Educating & Advancing Aquatics With PHTA


In January 2019, The Association of Pool and Spa Professionals and the National Swimming Pool Foundation decided to unify as a single organization, and since then, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance has been advancing in its core purpose of promoting safe and healthy pool and hot tub environments.

According to the PHTA Mission Statement, the alliance aims to protect and advance the industry's interests through education, advocacy, standards development and more. It does this through a range of programs and events, education and certification, and so much more.

Asked about the most important current initiative at the PHTA, President and CEO Sabeena Hickman, CAE, said, "There are so many!"

She added, "PHTA provides education, advocacy, standards development and research to increase our members' professionalism, knowledge and profitability. We also facilitate the expansion of swimming, water safety and related research and outreach aimed at introducing more people to swimming and making swimming environments safer.

"In 2022," Hickman said, "we will continue to elevate our programs by offering newly launched mentoring and apprenticeship initiatives. Additionally, we will drive consumer awareness of pool safety and drowning prevention through Step Into Swim, a campaign designed to provide learn-to-swim grants to aquatic facilities across the country."

The Step Into Swim Campaign is a 10-year initiative dedicated to drowning prevention. In May, the board of directors of PHTA committed to donating $500,000 to fund the Step Into Swim grants, which are distributed to aquatic facilities that provide swimming lessons in their communities.

Swimming has its educational value—mental, moral, and physical—in giving you a sense of mastery over an element, and of power of saving life, and in the development of wind and limb.

— Robert Baden-Powell, British Army officer, writer, and founder of the Scout Movement

In addition to creating new swimmers, the PHTA also aims to help support a well-informed, highly knowledgeable workforce for the aquatic industry. Its certifications, including Certified Pool & Spa Operator (CPO), Certified Builder Professional (CBP), Certified Service Technician (CST) and more, demonstrate proficiency in the profession through rigorous testing, as well as ongoing professional development and recertification.

"Certification is a mark of excellence," Hickman explained. "It demonstrates that the certified professional has voluntarily taken extra steps to improve and widen his or her skill set—which provides both the employee and employer a competitive advantage."

Education is a central mission of the PHTA beyond its certification offerings, and its annual World Aquatic Health Conference, now in its 18th year, disseminates cutting-edge science relevant to the pool and spa market. This year's event will be held virtually, making it easy for anyone to attend from anywhere.

"The event will be held December 7 to 9 and will address the upheaval the pool industry has experienced—facing historic growth—which has increased the need for certified operators, water safety education and an understanding of public health and safety issues related to pool ownership," Hickman said. "WAHC's educational program will offer insight from some of the industry's biggest names in the areas of water and air quality; facility management; employee management and aquatic programming; and codes and standards."

Learn more about the WAHC at, and learn more about the PHTA at