Shawn DeRosa is always saving lives. Since his teenage years as a lifeguard, he rose through the ranks as an instructor, trainer, and aquatics director. Shortly after graduation from law school, he took his J.D. and applied it to aquatic risk management with the Massachusetts State Forest and Park system.

“It was a neat opportunity to combine the law degree with my passion for aquatics — to really make a difference in our state parks, make them a safer place for people,” says DeRosa.

Born and raised in Walpole, Mass., DeRosa grew up a true Boston boy — attending Boston College with a degree in business administration and marketing. Even during law school at Suffolk University, DeRosa never left the aquatic scene. To pay his way through school he continued to teach lifeguarding classes. So for him, switching from the idea of a law firm to the state park system was a natural transition.

As aquatics coordinator for the state park system, DeRosa oversaw 66 aquatics facilities, seven ocean beaches, 38 inland beaches and 20 swimming pools.

Today, the 34-year-old DeRosa works as a consultant with the Aquatic Safety Research Group in Boston. There, he helped launch a one-day pool operator course, recently introduced at the 2004 Athletic Business Conference in Orlando, Fla. Most programs are offered over a two-day course, but DeRosa says the one-day program helps balance cost concerns.

“Many states still don’t require people to be certified,” DeRosa explains, a fact that concerns him. “There is a desperate need in those states for those operating public or private pools to have some basic understanding of how to protect the public health and offer a safe environment for people to swim in.”

He also teaches courses in leisure services at Salem State College as an adjunct faculty member.

Prior to his involvement with the Aquatic Safety Research Group, he was the Northeast Regional Director of the National Recreation and Park Association and sat on the board of directors for three years. His goal was to enhance the park and recreational opportunities not only for those employed in the field but for all citizens. He was politically active in seeking funds for park and recreation agencies and tried to apply the initiative from the national headquarters to the local level.

DeRosa says he wants to work towards providing fun and safe recreational experiences at pools and beaches without having everyone fear litigation. He says he plans to go wherever he can be the most effective. “Once we get that information to the public, it will make a dramatic impact on aquatics,” he says. “And I want to be a part of that.”