Robert Ogoreuc ’89 Recognized by International Swimming Hall of Fame

Bob Ogoreuc

From left: Bruce Wigo, Bob Ogoreuc, and Mary Hayes, daughter of Judge Harold Martin, for whom the award is named. Photo courtesy of Bob Ogoreuc

The International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) conferred the 2011 G. Harold Martin Award to Robert (Bob) Ogoreuc ’89, president of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), at a May 7 awards ceremony at its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The award is given annually to an individual who exemplifies “long and exceptional leadership, insight, and dedication to the water safety of children and the cause of making ‘Every Child a Swimmer’.”

“It’s wonderful to have our president honored in this way,” said Kim Burgess of Ft. Lauderdale, National Drowning Prevention Alliance interim executive director. “The NDPA has been promoting water safety since its founding in 2004, and Bob has been instrumental in helping the alliance to achieve its mission to be a catalyst in the prevention of drowning. In recent years, the group has expanded our focus on promoting swimming as an important ‘layer of protection’.”

“Not connected to the award, but as another milestone for the NDPA,” Burgess said, “the National Drowning Prevention Alliance recently moved its offices to the ISHOF headquarters, and we are excited and grateful to be associated in this way with the International Swimming Hall of Fame.”

“Bob was a natural choice for this award,” Bruce Wigo, ISHOF president and CEO, said. “He’s devoted his career to teaching aquatics, and he volunteers in numerous capacities. Bob constantly shares his love for and appreciation of the vital role of swimming in saving lives. He has worked with the Ocean City Beach Patrol, with the American Red Cross, and with numerous other organizations to promote swimming and to train others in water safety and rescue techniques.”

“I am humbled and honored to be chosen for this award,” said Ogoreuc, an assistant professor at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. “It’s not only a personal milestone, but I’m pleased that it will bring more attention to the important work being done by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, especially our partnership with the CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign.”

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is currently working on a federally funded, national public education program that complements the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Pool Safely campaign. The Pool Safely campaign aims to reduce childhood drownings and prevent drain entrapments through public education, training programs, and strategic partnerships. The campaign fulfills requirements of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which became a federal law in 2007.

Parents and pool owners are encouraged to download the free resource, “Layers of Protection,” at NDPA.org and to visit PoolSafely.gov for safety tips, informational videos, and children’s games and activities.

Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death to children nationally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, in 2007, 3,443 people drowned in the U.S. in all bodies of water. Of these, 2,758 were children younger than fourteen years of age. Moreover, for every child who died, almost four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Half of those treated (1,380) were admitted to the hospital or transferred for a higher level of care. Many victims suffer permanent brain damage.

The CPSC estimates that, each year, about three hundred children younger than five drown in swimming pools and spas, and more than three-quarters of emergency room submersion injury cases involve children younger than five.

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is a volunteer-driven 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2004. NDPA members are dedicated to preventing drowning for all age groups in all bodies of water through public education, advocacy, and strategic partnerships. The public is invited to join by visiting the National Drowning Prevention Alliance website.

The International Swimming Hall of Fame is a nonprofit educational organization that operates a dynamic shrine dedicated to the history, memory, and recognition of the famous swimmers, divers, water polo players, synchronized swimmers, and persons involved in lifesaving activities and education.

The Pool Safely campaign fulfills requirements of Section 1407 of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (P&SS Act). The 2007 law is named for the seven-year-old granddaughter of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker who drowned in 2002 when she became trapped on a hot tub drain.