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Keynote & Endnote Speakers

2020 AOAP Keynote and Endnote Speakers:

Monday, February 17 – 1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. – Frisco 2
Keynote Speaker

 “Be A Dream Chaser”

Rowdy Gaines, Olympian, Scripps, San Diego, CA

Rowdy Gaines’ life is one of inspiration and courage. Gaines, born in Winter Haven, Florida, didn’t start swimming until the age of 17. He tried other sports as a youngster but was either too short, too slow, or not coordinated enough. As he recalls, “I wanted to play football but was so intimidated by the size of the other players.”

A shy boy growing up, Rowdy Gaines found the solitude of swimming laps to be just what the doctor ordered. But his shyness quickly dissipated with his new found swimming success. After two years of rapid improvement as a high school swimmer, he was offered a scholarship to swim for Auburn University and under legendary coach Richard Quick. If not for the 1980 Olympic boycott, Rowdy Gaines might very well be one of America’s most famous Olympians. He was favored to win 4 Olympic Gold Medals in 1980. He had broken 11 World Records. But as he says today, while disappointed by the decision to boycott, he supported President Carter and the U.S.A 100%.

With every set back in his life, Rowdy Gaines has persevered. He graduated from Auburn in 1981 and thought his swimming career was over. Professional swimming didn’t exist at that time. He left the water for nearly a year, worked in his dad’s gas station, and went through post-collegiate depression thinking he’d missed his dream to swim in the Olympics. If you are not a swimmer, you have to understand the Olympics are swimming’s Super Bowl. Four years is a very long time in a sport where the biological clock is ticking. At his father’s coaxing to “stop feeling sorry for yourself,” Rowdy Gaines came out of retirement and in late 1981 returned to the sport he so loved.

Thursday, February 20 – 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. – Frisco 2
Endnote Speaker

“Our Legacy”

Joey Rusnak, Founder, Lifeguard Authority

Joey Rusnak, the Founder of Lifeguard Authority, an organization working towards preventing drowning and saving lives, will share his dream of a time when lifeguarded environments are free from drowning.  For decades, aquatic professionals have been relentlessly working towards eliminating fatalities in our communities. Joey believes it is within our grasp to be the generation of aquatic professionals that cross this finish line.  With the development of new technologies and rapid communication methods, we can experience unprecedented advancement because we have all the tools needed to succeed.  As we have grown smarter with data and experience, so too has the world around us, evolving and providing fresh opportunities.

This endnote explores the roles, accountability, innovation, and collaboration play in our quest to eliminate drowning from our communities.  Be entertained as Joey shares his personal story and adventure as an Aquatic Professional.  Be inspired as he takes you along his journey from a teenager forced into a job as a lifeguard, to being an international advocate for drowning prevention.  Be ready to learn how your own story can impact the future and how as an industry we need to be intentional about building our legacy.

BONUS INFORMATION: Update on Drowning Statistics in Aquatic Operations

Mick Nelson will present an update on drowning statistics in Aquatic Operations. Hear first-hand what the report covers, the different categories and break down by all states. This is one discussion that you will not want to miss as you will be able to find out how to receive the full report.