Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Pool and Hot Tub Alliance (PHTA) Step Into Swim Spokesperson Rowdy Gaines presented Paragon Pools/Float Like A Duck and the City of Las Vegas with a ceremonial Step Into Swim Grant check for $8,000 at the Municipal Indoor Pool on Tuesday, Nov 14.
PHTA member, Paragon Pools and its award-winning water safety initiative Float Like Duck petitions for the grant each year to support its mission of “educating the public on the importance of safety while celebrating the joys of water sports.” The Paragon Pools team then seeks out qualified aquatic programs within the community to administer the free-swimming lessons, with 100% of the grant funding to support the program.
“The City of Las Vegas has been a Water Safety Partner of our Float Like a Duck initiative since its founding in 2003,” says Joseph M. Vassallo, Paragon Pools’ president and Float Like A Duck founder. “And, during Float Like A Duck’s 20th anniversary, we wanted to reciprocate the long-term support by presenting them with the grant to provide no-cost swimming classes for disadvantaged youths in the Las Vegas community.”
In attendance to accept the grant were Paragon Pools/Float Like A Duck representatives: President Joseph M Vassallo and VP Joey Vassallo; City of Las Vegas representatives: Ward 3 Councilwoman Olivia Diaz, Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs — Recreation Supervisor Savonta Manor and Lifeguard/WSI Gabriel Mendoza.
During the 2023 summer swim season, a $3,000 grant was provided for free-swimming lessons, serving over 100 children in the inaugural season. After a review of the 2023 report, Gaines was so impressed with the success of the program that he committed another $5,000 Step Into Swim grant for the 2024 season. The $8,000 ceremonial grant check represents the combined $3,000 2023 grant and the $5,000 2024 grant.
Touted as “The Voice of Swimming” for his years of commentary announcing the Olympic swimming events and recognized as “Swimming’s Greatest Ambassador”, Gaines is a 2X inductee into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He spoke about the importance of teaching children how to swim, noting that if a child takes formal swim lessons it reduces the risk of drowning by almost 90%. Gaines also brought one of his Gold Medals from the 1984 LA Olympic Games to share with attendees, who were excited to examine it up close.
The Vassallo’s credit the efforts of their Councilwoman Victoria Seaman of Ward 2 and Councilwoman Olivia Diaz of Ward 3 who played a strategic role in coordinating the program with the City’s Park and Rec Aquatic’s division. Seaman and Diaz worked with Recreation Supervisor Savonta Manor to identify the highest need in the community, of which included the Municipal Pool and Baker Pool in Diaz’ Ward 3.
“Safety is the number one priority at the city of Las Vegas and during the hot summer months pool safety is something that we want to make sure everyone hears about loud and clear,” says Ward 2 Councilwoman Victoria Seaman. “I want to thank Paragon Pools/Float Like a Duck for this generous donation to go towards free swim lessons for city residents.”
“There is nothing better in Las Vegas than taking a cool swim on a hot summer day, but we want to ensure that our children, family and friends are safe as they are having fun in the pool,” says Ward 3 Councilwoman Olivia Diaz. “Thanks to community partners like Paragon Pools/Float Like a Duck we are able to provide free swim lessons and help to make the summer swim season safer for everyone.”
“The Step Into Swim grant is very important to our community,” states Vassallo. “Southern Nevada is known for its many aquatic environments and so many of the children do not have access to these bodies of water on a regular basis. The grant provides additional financial support allowing more families to access the City’s swimming programs to learn how to swim and be safe around water.”