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Jumping In

By Jim McCloskey

Blog art croppedA couple blogs back, I wrote about the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s Step Into Swim program (see “A Campaign Apart,” 10 October 2012). Since then, I’ve been following the program’s progress, digging into its background and getting more and more convinced of its significance.

I’ve been around the industry long enough to know that lots of good initiatives have come and gone – some of them with distressing speed and almost all of them with much of their potential unrealized. I can even accept some responsibility with a few of those mishaps, because I sat on special association committees year after year, working on project development and supporting those efforts in print while I was editor at Pool & Spa News.

I see an important distinction, however, between any and all of those old programs and Step Into Swim: Where the industry-promoting efforts I observed in the 1980s and ’90s were product-driven and designed to build sales (while also educating consumers about their options), Step Into Swim turns that around by being issue-oriented and having public safety, health and well-being at its core (while also neatly building public recognition of the value of having more swimming pools).

As campaigns go, I think Step Into Swim is on remarkably solid, constructive ground – and it keeps getting better.

Just the other day, I received an email from NSPF with a link to a video that had taken the $3,000 first prize in an NSPF-sponsored competition. As the cover note declared, “This winning video illustrates that teaching people to swim is an investment in the next generation.”

Using statistics drawn from a May 2012 NSPF White Paper (helpfully titled “More swimmers will result in a healthier society, fewer drownings and reduced healthcare costs”), the video quickly summarizes the nature of the challenge, then offers a simple call for donations. It’s just plain smart, with slick production values to match. (To see it, follow the link below.)

The winning entry came from Matt Giovanisci, owner of SwimUniversity.com, who indicated a very personal motivation for his involvement. “Years ago,” he said, “my two-year-old cousin almost drowned on top of my family’s pool cover. Since then, I have made it a personal mission to promote pool safety.

“When I saw the opportunity to create a video for Step into Swim,” he added, “I jumped at the chance to use my video skills to promote a cause I care deeply about.”

Step Into Swim is already taking big strides. So far, it has given a total of $40,000 to four non-profit agencies (American Red Cross, JCC Association, U.S. Swim School Association and 21st Century Swimming) to sponsor swimming instruction for children and adults in communities across the United States.

Early donations from companies and individuals in the pool industry and beyond has encouraged NSPF to increase its commitment to the program to ensure its success in the long term. As I see it, that’s very good news.

Please do spend some time with the video and check out the information on the web page that carries it: This is a campaign to watch!

To see the winning video, click here.

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