The Swim Professor

Jim Reiser, M.S.

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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.— April 21, 2010 The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) recognized national and community drowning prevention leaders on April 26, 2010 at the NDPA’s 9th Annual National Drowning Prevention Symposium at the Sheraton Station Square in Pittsburgh, PA.

Cecilia Duer will receive the 2010 National Lighthouse Award, the NDPA’s highest honor.  Duer, executive director of the National Water Safety Congress since 2002, was selected for her leadership in water safety and drowning prevention. She also serves as the executive director of the Spirit of America Foundation and directs its youth education programs, and is involved in other national organizations dedicated to aquatic safety including the National Boating Safety Advisory; NASBLA Education Committee; Ohio DNR Division of Watercraft; and the NWSC Rescue Recover, Re-Warm and PWC courses.

NDPA Executive Director Kristin Goffman says, “Cecilia is a true leader in this effort, managing numerous national projects.  Her work in critical areas of water safety education has advanced drowning prevention efforts across the nation. She is a leading force in water safety, and she was selected by the NDPA board because she embodies the spirit of this award.”

Previous Lighthouse Award winners were Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Nancy Baker, whose tireless efforts helped to achieve passage of national legislation, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act, named in memory of Baker’s daughter, who drowned through entrapment on a spa drain.

Four NDPA Community Lifesaver Awards will be presented. This award honors exceptional work in the advancement of drowning prevention at the community or regional level through education, research, public awareness, legislative changes, or engineering advancements.  Winners were peer-nominated and selected by the NDPA board based on set criteria.

Jim Reiser with Swim Lessons University was selected for his leadership in promoting drowning prevention in his local community of Columbia, South Carolina through a multi-faceted approach including swim instruction, water safety awareness, and media outreach.  Reiser designed an innovative water safety & swim proficiency awards program using a color-coded arm band system, incorporating various colors with different levels of swimming ability. He has partnered with USA Swimming’s Make a Splash Campaign, authored books for parents on water safety, and serves as the water safety chairperson for Safe Kids Midlands in Columbia.

Julian “Duke” Brown with Horry County School District was selected for his dedication to the prevention of drowning in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  For the past ten years, Brown has coordinated a Junior Lifeguard Program for 5th grade students that meets state curriculum standards and encompasses water safety information and practices. The program Brown developed promotes appreciation and understanding of local aquatic environments and helps students develop specific abilities to save lives in and out of the water, and to assist swimmers in distress. Over 500 students have completed this after-school program.

Gary Gray, a Vashon Aquatic Club swim parent and board member, was inspired by his then five-year-old son’s desire to become a diver after watching the 2004 Olympic Diving competition. Gray immediately got involved in local swim programs and Vashon Island’s only competitive swim team–the Seals.  In 2009, Washington State’s Vashon Aquatic Club offered the free program to over 300 first-through-third grade students. Goffman says, “His nominators said that Gary is a tireless champion of getting kids in the water, and realizes the need for safety around the water since his community lives on an island.  He spreads his passion for water safety by ensuring that all children have access to swim lessons.”

The San Diego County Aquatic Council, led by Manuel Gonzalez, aquatic director for the city of Chula Vista and Belinda Bencomo, supervising recreation specialist for the city of San Diego CA, has made furthering aquatic opportunities for San Diegans, water safety and drowning prevention priorities.  The Aquatic Council has a diverse membership ranging from all 17 municipalities in San Diego County to numerous public and private agencies, swimming and pool industry representatives, and interested individuals. The Aquatic Council works to provide lifeguards with the necessary tools to ensure that guarded waters are safe, and to educate the public to help reduce drowning in unguarded waters. The group has been on the forefront of local and national legislative action and is currently working with local health departments to help ensure that pool operators in San Diego comply with the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act.  Goffman reports, “This council demonstrates that a community-based water safety coalition can make significant advances in drowning prevention within its local community.”

For further information, visit or call (951) 659-8600.


About the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA)

The NDPA was formed in 2004 to maximize efforts to prevent drowning through the development and implementation of strategies to facilitate and improve education, public awareness, effective barrier codes and greater utilization of layers of protection. This tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) national organization is comprised of individuals, organizations, government agency representatives, policymakers and corporations who have the common goal of saving lives. Affiliated members and programs share “the best of the best” with other members so that successful efforts can be replicated nationwide, with a goal of reducing drowning in swimming pools, open bodies of water and household products such as tubs and buckets.

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May 3, 2010 at 6:23 pm
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