​​​​inPERSPECTIVE / AQUATICS: Building & Sharing Aquatic Expertise


Swimming is an activity enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, both for recreation and competition. However, as with any activity involving water, there are inherent risks involved, including the risk of drowning. That’s why it’s essential to have trained and qualified aquatic professionals overseeing swimming facilities and water-based activities.

The Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP) understands the importance of professional development in the aquatics industry, and that’s why they’re holding the 13th annual Aquatic Conference & Expo in Reno, Nev., from Feb. 12 to 16, 2024.

Aquatic professionals play a significant role in preserving the safety and enjoyment of water-based activities in many settings, including swimming pools, waterparks and beaches. To become an aquatic professional or maintain certification, continuing education and training are necessary. That’s where AOAP’s annual conference comes in.

The conference provides essential networking, education and development opportunities for aquatic professionals from various areas in the aquatics industry. From programming to risk management, staff training, leadership, diversity and inclusion, the conference covers essential topics that equip aquatic professionals with the tools to improve their organizations and promote safer and more enjoyable water-based activities.

Beyond the educational tracks offered at the conference, attendees can attend workshops, with directors’ schools and the new Aquatic Technician Training course being available this year. The AOAP conference also features a new track on the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), presented by the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code, providing attendees with valuable insights into codes and regulations that impact the safety and operations of aquatic facilities.

It’s noteworthy that the conference features networking opportunities for attendees to engage with experts in the aquatic field, learn about new products and services, and build relationships with potential partners. Such relationships positively reflect aquatic facilities and enhance operations, leading to more efficient programs and safer swimming environments.

The conference is an excellent opportunity for aquatic professionals to learn from renowned industry speakers, including industry leaders, who share practical insights. Attendees can gain CEUs that are invaluable to maintaining professional certifications and advancing in their careers.

At the 2024 Aquatic Conference & Expo, all registered participants will have the unique option to attend any National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) sessions during the conference week, which enhances the conference experience significantly. Drowning prevention is a crucial component of water-based activities, and the conference’s expanded opportunity ensures aquatic professionals can gain more knowledge in this area to promote safer practices in their facilities.

Social events at the AOAP Conference are designed to entertain and provide a relaxing atmosphere to attendees. The 2024 Conference will have an on-site all-conference social event with a ’70s theme, where attendees can dress up, dance and socialize with industry experts and peers.

Connecting and engaging with other aquatic professionals during the conference can provide insights into other facilities’ best practices that can benefit an aquatic facility’s operations. Furthermore, the fun and friendly nature of the social events allows attendees to form personal bonds, which can lead to more significant professional collaborations in the aquatics industry.

Professional development is essential in the aquatics industry. To remain effective, engaged and informed, aquatics professionals need to continually learn and upgrade their skills. To ensure the continued growth and prosperity of aquatics as a whole, professionals should attend conferences such as AOAP’s in 2024 to gain valuable insights into areas of the industry, including programming, leadership and risk management. Such participation equips professionals with the tools they need to promote safe aquatic activities, offering enjoyable and meaningful experiences for all individuals who participate in aquatic activities.

As we gear up for the 2024 Aquatic Conference & Expo, we would like to urge all aquatic professionals to make attendance a priority. Don’t miss this exceptional opportunity to connect, learn from industry experts and contribute to the advancement of the aquatics industry.     RM



Mark Basnight is deputy director of the Association of Aquatic Professionals (AOAP). Melissa Fadler is director of marketing and member engagement for AOAP. For more information, visit www.aquaticpros.org.