Sep 16, 2015

National Swimming Pool Foundation Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The foundation will commemorate the event at the World Aquatic Health Conference on Oct. 8, 2015 in Arizona at the Desert Foothills

National Swimming Pool Foundation 50th anniversary

The National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF) celebrates its 50th year in 2015 and sets goals to further keep aquatics safer and create more swimmers. The foundation will commemorate the event at the World Aquatic Health Conference on Oct. 7, 2015 in Arizona at the Desert Foothills.

In the 1960s, there was an increased interest in swimming pools thanks to the prosperity created after World War II and advances in plastic materials and disinfection. As the pool and spa industry grew, a group of leaders, the National Spa & Pool Institute, realized a need for an educational organization to research and supplement practical aquatic knowledge for the industry. In 1965, that organization became the NSPF, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, with the original mission to receive and maintain funds to use for scientific and educational purposes which would influence the design, construction and operation of swimming pools and spas.

In the 1970s, as pools were becoming larger and more unique, the NSPF developed a mail-in correspondence course, which after successful completion, one received the Certified Pool/Spa Operator (CPO) Certification. The CPO Certification is to this day, the NSPF’s most popular creation as it has resulted in more than 400,000 successful CPO certifications in nearly 100 countries. This program is designed to provide individuals with the basic knowledge, techniques and skills needed to operate pools and spas.

In the 1990s, consumers wanted lower-maintenance pools with higher-quality automatic cleaners, control systems, and safety devices such as pool alarms and safety covers. A higher standard was also implemented in the NSPF, as then-CEO Les Kowalsky required pool operators to train and recertify every five years to have a valid CPO Certification.

When the new millennium began, the NSPF moved from Texas (distribution) and New York (headquarters) to Colorado Springs in 2002. A year later, Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D., was appointed CEO. With Lachocki’s appointment, the NSPF reinvented itself with the goal of creating more value for the nonprofit’s customers.

The NSPF then released the indexed, and updated Pool/Spa Operator Handbook. The board hired NSPF instructor Ronald Ford to update the handbook, which resulted in a 30% increase in those achieving their CPO certification by the next year. In 2004 the annual World Aquatic Health Conference was launched by the NSPF as an educational and networking event for the aquatics field. 

That same year, Alex Antoniou was hired as the foundation's first director of educational programs. At the time, there was only one course: the two-day CPO certification program; once Antoniou came on, the NSPF’s portfolio grew quickly. The nonprofit presented a comprehensive series of online training programs that focused on specialized programs in aquatics, like the Certified Pool/Spa Inspector, Aquatic Play Feature, and 60 other courses. The NSPF also funded creation of a science-based, free Model Aquatic Health Code, which is now published by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

By 2006 the NSPF released a Spanish Pool & Spa Operator handbook. A year later a French version was printed. During this time, the NSPF reinvested about $4 million in research grants. In 2007, NSPF introduced the Pool Operator Primer online course and Pool Operator Fusion classroom course as a blended learning course for CPO Certification. Two years later, the NSPF partnered with the American Red Cross and created the Home PoolEssentials, an online course that teaches backyard pool safety and maintenance for homeowners.

In 2009 the NSPF’s mission became, “To encourage healthier living by increasing aquatic activity through education and research.” The organization initiated the 10-year Step Into Swim campaign to create 1 million more swimmers.

Recently, the NSPF became a sponsor of Swim Today, a campaign that is meant to give a new initiative to the sport of swimming for youths. Since 2003, the organization has grown from three employees to 19 to better keep up with the flourishing needs of the industry. The NSPF looks forward to support initiatives that help to keep pools safer and keep pools open, to assure that the future of aquatics is more accessible to the people who enjoy the benefits of getting into the water.

“The innovations we have created has resulted in 12 consecutive years of mission-focused training-program growth. As a result, we are able to give back to prevent bad things and to promote good things,” stated CEO Tom Lachocki. “All we ask is that everyone in our field train their staff. If you chose to use NSPF materials, thank you!  We take your confidence very seriously and commit to serve you for decades to come. What’s more, we intend to give back to help mankind through aquatics."