Twenty-five years ago, the waterpark industry was still playing in the kiddie pool.

Now, public and private waterparks attract millions of visitors annually (79 million in North America in 2010, according to the World Waterpark Association); support a small industry of specialized water safety professionals; and generate serious competition for innovation and market share among the top waterpark builders and designers.

Overseeing this constantly changing segment of aquatics is Rick Root, a former lifeguard and president of

Overland, Kan.-based WWA since 2001. It’s a job that requires diplomacy, PR savvy for consumer and business press alike, and a solid knowledge of water safety, business and tourism to effectively support this growing segment of the aquatics industry.