September 18, 2017

Partner Spotlight: Interview with Joseph Vassallo, President of Paragon Pools and Co-Founder of Float Like A Duck™, Water Safety Initiative

a person in a duck costume standing with a man next to a pool where a lifeguard is helping a girl to float.

Duckie and Joe A. Vassallo watch as YMCA lifeguard teaches a youth how to float at the annual Float Like A Duck event.

Tell me a little bit about your organization and how long have you been a Pool Safely campaign partner?

We became actively involved in water safety when we founded our company, Paragon Pools in 2001 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2003, we launched the Float Like A Duck™ water safety initiative. Our mission is to educate the public about the importance of safety while celebrating the joys of water sports. Water and water sports are an integral part of our lives, whether in the bath, a pool, at the lake or the beach. Our goal through the Float Like A Duck program is to prepare the entire family with water safety skills, practices and preventative measures to ensure every experience is an enjoyable one. Duckie the mascot is a favorite of kids and parents and makes appearances throughout the city.

Float Like a Duck™ has been recognized for our water safety efforts, including the National Water Safety Congress – Award of Merit, Nevada Governor’s Points of Light Award, and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) – Community Lifesaver Award.

Over the years, we have built a strong alliance with fellow water safety activists, and becoming a Pool Safely partner this summer is important in providing an additional level of messaging to share with our community.

Float like A Duck PSA titled" Learning to swim, lef me to"

Float Like A Duck released a series of PSA videos in English and Spanish titled “Learning to swim, led me to…”

What top water safety steps or messages do you think are the most important for keeping kids safer in and around the water?

Float Like A Duck™ messaging focuses on enforcing the ABC & Ds of water safety, with a big emphasis on A – adult supervision.

How has your organization made a difference among consumers when it comes to drowning prevention?

Float Like A Duck’s water safety initiative has made an impact with our outreach programs, videos and collateral materials targeting the most vulnerable groups – kids under age four and the Spanish-speaking community.

This year we launched a PSA video series in English and Spanish, “Learning to swim, led me to…” featuring local community members stating how swimming has led them to exciting adventures and career opportunities.

As a result, parents are becoming more active in water safety awareness and kids are learning the tools they need to have an enjoyable and safer water experience.

two men and a person in a duck costume.

SkyView YMCA Executive Ray Fraser, Mascot Duckie and Float Like A Duck Co-Founder Joseph M. Vassallo show the Pool Safely Water Watcher lanyards they will distribute.

What is the most useful/your favorite Pool Safely resource?

Because we stress adult supervision, the Water Watcher lanyards are our favorite Pool Safely resource. It’s important to identify qualified adults to be designated Water Watchers. They should take turns, rotating every 15 to 20 minutes. It’s also important to explain to the kids and family members what “Water Watcher” means, the responsibility of being one and how everyone should respect the person taking on the role.

Why do you think it is beneficial to partner with CPSC and the Pool Safely campaign? 

When it comes to water safety, the Float Like A Duck team believes it is imperative to collaborate with other water and pool safety programs in sharing the importance of awareness. Consumers react and absorb information differently, and building a diverse library of resources to include the Pool Safely tools provides us with another means of reaching consumers.

We are proud to develop an active partnership role with CPSC and the Pool Safely campaign.