Thomas M. Lachocki, CEO,NSPF
Thomas M. Lachocki, CEO,NSPF

As part of an effort to track pool-related issues, the National Swimming Pool Foundation has started compiling a database of news reports about such incidents.

The database, which can be accessed by anyone, also includes information on pool closures and lawsuits related to the aquatics industry.

The Worldwide Aquatic News Incident Database, at , has stories about swimming pool-related incidents dating to 2006. The database contains stories about drownings, water health issues, chemical problems, suction entrapments and accidents. It also has stories about lawsuits connected to pools.

The foundation started compiling the database to get a better idea of how the world sees the swimming industry, said Thomas M. Lachocki, CEO of the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based organization. “As we started looking at it, the general conclusion I got early on was [that] — through the lens of the news media — we’re an industry that inflicts drowning, disease, injury and chemical exposure,” he explained.

NSPF has used that information while developing programs to combat negative perceptions of the industry. One example is the foundation’s Step Into Swim campaign, in which courses devoted to nonswimmers are funded by donations from companies in the pool industry and matching grants from NSPF.

“The Step Into Swim program and having more focus on people experiencing the benefits of pools has certainly been an outcome of understanding what’s going on in the world,” Lachocki said.

The foundation has seen a need for the dissemination of this kind of information, according to Lachocki. “In conversations we’ve had in the past with commissioners [of the Consumer Product Safety Commission ] where they’re trying to understand what’s going on in the world, they expressed that it would be good to have all this information in a database,” he said.

The collection contains more than 2,500 articles and is available to anyone free of charge for educational use. It can be searched by country, state, date range and other demographic categories.

“We’re seeing some buzz on it,” Lachocki said. “We just want to build awareness. When people want to see what’s happening in their state, they can start pulling out that information.”

In other NSPF news, the foundation added four people to its board of directors. William Kent, owner of Team Horner in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is returning to the board after a one-year absence. New members are Rob Butcher, executive director of U.S. Masters Swimming ; Diane Dahlmann, director of student affairs at the University of Missouri-Columbia ; and Judy LaKind, president of LaKind Associates. D. Scot Hunsaker, president of Counsilman-Hunsaker & Associates of St. Louis, was elected board president, succeeding John Puetz, director of technology for Advantis .

“It’s really a great mix,” Lachocki said. “Having a diverse group of leaders, providing their unique perspectives with good hearts, is really important, and I think we’re there.”

NSPF also announced that the Canadian province of Alberta has approved the foundation’s Certified Pool/Spa Operator course, which pool operators there may take as part of their education requirements. NSPF instructors have trained individuals from Alberta Environmental Public Health as instructors for the province’s pool operators.

This kind of commitment by a governmental organization is unique.

“It doesn’t happen every day,” Lachocki said. “We have dozens of environmental health officials around North America who are NSPF instructors, but it’s not common where a whole province decides to go with NSPF.”