E&A's International Aquatic Safety School Sees Record Attendance

Phoenix, Ariz., was once again home to the aquatic industry’s longest-running, largest, and most comprehensive safety school. A record number of Instructors participated in the pre-IASS Instructor Trainer update and for the first time in 37 years, attendance soared to more than 275 participants. Programming for IASS includes classroom sessions, land skills, in-water skills, team building, professional development, and the opportunity to connect with professionals from around the world. E&A will also conduct an IASS East program, taking place in Abu Dhabi beginning February 27, 2023.

This year’s keynote speaker at IASS was outgoing Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. CEO Murray Hennessy. Water parks are the core of a Great Wolf Lodge experience which, according to Hennessy, makes lifeguards the backbone of their destinations. New technology, such as the Ellis Aquatics Vigilance System elevates aquatic safety, although lifeguards will never be replaced. Aquatic safety is a career that is here to stay, and the lifeguards trained to E&A standards are the best in the world. With nearly 40 Great Wolf aquatics professionals in the audience for Hennessy’s keynote, it was clear the company is as committed to safety as giving families a howling good time.

“Three of our current Great Wolf General Managers are former lifeguards,” commented Nick Licastro, General Manager of Great Wolf Lodge Williamsburg. “To this day, as I remain involved in aquatics, serving as Faculty for IASS, I remain passionate about sharing the principles of service and accountability that helped me be a dedicated lifeguard and future leader.”

For the second year, IASS Faculty selected one participant from each group to receive the Vera Solis Leadership Award. Vera, who passed away in 2021 after a lengthy battle with cancer, was undeniably one of the greatest and most influential teachers, as well as being a leader and role model, in the aquatics industry. Vera’s husband, Louis Solis, attended IASS on the first day and shared his thoughts with the participants on how much the E&A Family meant to Vera.

“It was an honor to be joined by Louis Solis,” said RAC Carroll, CEO of Ellis & Associates. “Vera was the matriarch of the E&A family from the early days; she dedicated more than 35 years to our industry, helping to inform procedures that save lives every day. Her husband was a big part of Vera’s contributions, supporting her passion throughout her career.”

This year’s Vera Solis Leadership Award recipients are:

  • Michael Herdson - Columbia Association
  • Trinity Finley - Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Arlington (not pictured)
  • Tanesha Boulden - Prince William County Government
  • Zhane Dean - Great Wolf Lodge Georgia
  • Emma Gerrity - Cedar Fair Oceans of Fun
  • Denzel Flowers - Cedar Fair Valley Fair Amusement Park
  • Jordan Brouillard - Plainfield Parks and Recreation