Encouraging healthier living by increasing aquatic activity through education and research.
Who We Are
We believe everything we do helps people live healthier lives. We believe we can make a difference by encouraging more aquatic activity, keeping pools safer, and keeping pools open. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, proceeds go to fund research and to help create swimmers.
What We Do
We offer books, online courses, create training programs, and organize conferences that are technically sound, convenient, and beautifully designed. NSPF® Instructors have trained over 450,000+ professionals in 101 countries with the Certified Pool/Spa Operator® (CPO®) Certification Program. People around the world continue their education with NSPF online training courses like Pool Operator Primer™ and Water Chemistry Basics to help prevent injuries, illness, and accidents.
Over $4 million in grants funded by NSPF have impacted policies and practices around the world. We attract hundreds of professionals from around the globe to the World Aquatic Health™ Conference each year to learn of the latest advances. In 2012, we launched Step Into Swim™ Campaign, a 10-year initiative to create 1 million more swimmers.
We are always looking for new partnership opportunities, please contact Customer Service or 719-540-9119 to explore the possibilities.
NSPF Company History
Birth of the National Swimming Pool Foundation
A group of visionary leaders in the growing pool and spa industry formed the National Swimming Pool Foundation® (NSPF®). These leaders recognized a need for an educational and research organization to supplement and accentuate practical experience. In addition, they realized research was needed to answer many technical questions and fill knowledge gaps.
The National Swimming Pool Foundation received approval from the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. The original mission of this new organization was to receive and maintain funds to use for scientific and educational purposes - influencing the design, construction, and operation of swimming pools - either directly or by contributions to organizations that qualified as tax-exempt organizations.
Origin of the CPO® Certification
The first pool operator course to educate the public on the safe and proper care of swimming pools and spas was developed by the National Swimming Pool Foundation as a correspondence course available to subscribers through the mail. Upon successful completion of the course, recipients received the Certified Pool/Spa Operator® (CPO®) Certification.
In the early 1970s, a Seattle-based professor named Dr. Don Van Rossen authored the first formal, black and white, course handbook, which outlined best practices to care for a swimming pool and spa. By the late 1970s, the booming pool industry had taken notice of the first complete swimming pool manual, and Dr. Van Rossen sought to expand beyond his own ability to teach.
Dr. Fontaine Piper, a Missouri-based university professor, was hired to create an Instructor School to train the very best CPO® Certification holders to become instructors. By 1985, 58 instructors were trained in the United States. Today, there are approximately 800 NSPF-trained instructors worldwide; 100 of those international, who are delivering training to pool professionals in English, Spanish, French, & Ukrainian. Dr. Piper continues to lead the instructor program as the Chairman of the Instructor Education Committee.
Mr. Leif Zars, a respected engineer, builder, and pioneer in the swimming pool industry was hired as Chairman of the National Swimming Pool Foundation Board. He was responsible for establishing the Foundation’s distribution center in San Antonio, Texas.
Mr. Les Kowalsky, a prudent American businessman, joined the National Swimming Pool Foundation as Chief Executive Officer. Kowalsky raised the standard of the CPO® Certification by requiring pool operators to train and re-certify every five years. The Certified Pool/Spa Operator® Certification program gained popularity and credibility throughout the United States.
The National Swimming Pool Foundation Board reorganized and selected Board Member, Ray Essick, as interim CEO with the goal to relocate the Foundation headquarters to beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado from Texas (distribution) and New York (headquarters). Mr. Essick formerly served as Executive Director for USA Swimming located in Colorado Springs. During his tenure, the Foundation searched for Handbook authors and recruited the next chief executive officer.
Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D., was appointed CEO by the National Swimming Pool Foundation Board of Directors in December. Dr. Lachocki’s experience in chemistry, research, education, and business development in his former role as Director of Product Development for BioLab, Inc. (a Chemtura Company), allowed insight into the issues and opportunities affecting the swimming pool and spa industry.
A History of Education
The Board contracted with Ronald Ford, a respected pool professional in Florida and NSPF Instructor, to author and update the NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook.
The new, full-color, indexed, and updated Handbook was released. Since then, the Foundation has fulfilled a commitment to update the Handbook every one to two years with both practical field information and research-based findings. Regular updates have ensured that CPO® certification students have access to the latest, unbiased, scientific information.
International efforts were expanded with the release of the Spanish Pool & Spa Operator® handbook; only to be shortly followed by a French publication the next year. During this time of tremendous innovation and growth, the organization decided to reinvest nearly $4 million in research grants to better the industry. Research focused on two things:
- Keeping pools safer and open by focusing research on drownings, illnesses, injuries, and chemical exposures.
- Helping the industry flourish by documenting how immersion and water activity can benefit an individual’s health, thus giving reason for the pools to be open and the industry to grow.
The introduction of Pool Operator Primer™ and Pool Operator Fusion™ were just the beginning of over 21 online aquatic training courses introduced by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. The Primer & Fusion courses presented a flexible CPO® Certification training, with a blended format of online plus one day classroom education.
2009 and Beyond
Partnering with the American Red Cross, the Home Pool Essentials online course was launched to help residential pool and spa owners with basic maintenance and water safety in and around the pool and spa.
As the first decade of the new millennium came to a close, the NSPF brand mission statement changed: To encourage healthier living by increasing aquatic activity through education and research. To complement the new mission, NSPF initiated the 10 year Step Into Swim™ campaign to create one million more swimmers. Complementing goals of the campaign were to reduce drownings, improve the public health, and build demand for our field.
Today, the National Swimming Pool Foundation certified instructors train more students on the basics of pool care with the CPO® Certification program than any other industry program in the world. Over 450,000 professionals hold the prestigious CPO® Certification. In 2016 alone, over 34,000 pool professionals were trained and certified.
Initiatives for Growth and Service
The National Swimming Pool Foundation Board charged Dr. Lachocki with establishing high standards for service and preeminence of products that satisfy specific needs throughout the aquatics industry. These strategies align with the organization’s newly adopted mission, “To encourage healthier living by increasing aquatic activity through education and research.”
Several key initiatives have been implemented over the past several years:
- Appointment of Alex Antoniou, Ph.D., from Rutgers University, as Director of Educational Programs initiated a dramatic expansion in the Foundation’s educational programs.
- A research grant program has awarded over $4 million since 2003. Through these funded grants, it has been demonstrated that research can guide the growth and significance of the aquatics field.
- A Scholarship and Fellowship program has reinforced NSPF’s commitment to education.
- The annual World Aquatic Health™ Conference was launched, an unmatched educational and networking event that highlights scientific advances and spotlights issues, emerging trends and opportunities in the aquatics field.
- A joint partnership with Human Kinetics was created to publish the first scientific scholarly journal in our field – International Journal of Aquatic Research & Education.
- The Board provided startup funds to create a Model Aquatic Health Code, implemented by the Centers for Disease Control, to open the door for a free, science-based, model code to help reduce wasteful and confusing duplicative code development processes.
- The Step Into Swim™ 10-Year Campaign was launched to create 1 million more swimmers.
- In 2016, Genesis, educators for residential pool and spa design and construction, merged with NSPF to further each other's missions.
Team efforts supported by the National Swimming Pool Foundation Board of Directors have resulted in thousands of professionals elevating their abilities to reduce drowning, disease, chemical exposure, and injuries. As a result, the Foundation has experienced ten consecutive years of growth from mission-based educational programs. These revenues are reinvested into research, and other mission-based initiatives.
Tomorrow, more than ever, as our society ages, and as we struggle with the health consequences of sedentary lifestyles, aquatic activity in healthy water becomes more and more important. We all have the responsibility to continue to learn and understand how aquatic activity benefits health, families, our communities, and the world. The National Swimming Pool Foundation Board remains committed to furthering advances in research to demonstrate how aquatic activity creates healthier lives. We continue to support initiatives that help to keep pools open, assuring more accessibility to people who can enjoy the benefits of getting in the water.