A campaign to create 1 million new swimmers in 10 years has gained recognition and buy-in from several industry groups.

Step Into Swim, organized by the National Swimming Pool Foundation, was named as a recipient of the 22nd annual Paragon Award for Aquatic Safety. The recognition is given by the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) and sponsored by Pentair Aquatic Systems.

The program is grounded in the fact that children of non-swimmers have been found to remain non-swimmers. “When we teach children to swim, we potentially impact their children and generations to follow,” NSPF said.

ISHOF presents its Paragon Awards to those who have made outstanding contributions to aquatics.

NSPF introduced its learn-to-swim initiative in 2012 to improve public health and reduce drowning by providing swim lessons to children, adults and minority populations. To do this, it channels all donated funds toward learn-to-swim programs in the form of grants.

For this purpose, NSPF raises sponsorships from aquatics businesses, associations and the public sector. It also issued a white paper to explain the benefits of teaching a population to swim.

Other winners of this year’s Paragon Awards included Ron Van Pool for competitive swimming; Terry Sayring for water polo; Linda Paul for competitive diving; Stefania Tudini for synchronized swimming; and Juliene Hefter for recreational swimming. The awards will be physically presented at a ceremony August 25 at ISHOF’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla. headquarters.

ISHOF is not the only organization to endorse Step Into Swim. Several in the pool and spa industry are contributing funds in the hope of increasing the country’s base of swimmers.

NSPF has raised more than $65,000 for the campaign so far this year. Master Pools Guild, the Richmond, Va.-based fraternity of pool and spa builders, has given $40,000 to the cause. Several other groups donated $5,000 each: The American Chemistry Council, the National Plasterers Council, the Bill Kent Family Foundation and NSPF Board Member Anita Sayed. Financier and philanthropist Donald Sussman contributed $2,500, while Genesis co-founder and Questar Pools President Skip Phillips has given $1,000.

“How often does one dollar do three great things: prevent drowning, create more swimmers, and increase demand for water-based activity?” said NSPF CEO Thomas Lachocki.

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