Speech of Hon. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Mr. Fattah: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize and congratulate a young man of remarkable achievement. Shaun Anderson is co-founder and President of Diversity in Aquatics Inc., a visionary network that works to save lives through global efforts to reduce the incidence of drowning.
But that's not all. Shaun is a consultant to USA Swimming, a college faculty member, a former coach as well as a collegiate swimmer and track team member at his alma mater, Pennsylvania State University. He began swimming competitively at age four.
Citing these accomplishments and more, Penn State has named him one of 12 alumni under the age of 35 to receive the 2011 Penn State University Alumni Achievement Award. He will be honored on April 8.
Let me tell my colleagues a little more about this amazing young man. His brainchild, Diversity in Aquatics, boasts members across a worldwide spectrum including Olympians, coaches, elected officials and educators. The organization is literally a life saver. It helps spread the word about water safety through advocacy, educational programs, and action, holding regional water safety clinics, and connecting individuals and groups through their website.
I was pleased to provide a welcoming video for the Diversity in Aquatics Network, which has been active in support of swimming and water safety in Philadelphia's communities of color. The Network has spotlighted the work of Jim Ellis, who developed Philadelphia's first all-African American swimming team and was the subject of the biopic ``Pride.''
In 2009, USA Swimming named Shaun a diversity consultant, giving him responsibility for developing programs for under-served communities throughout the country. He has become a global spokesperson on the issue of diversity in swimming and aquatic safety. For example, he was interviewed and appeared in a Newsweek article in September 2010 about efforts to lower the rate of drowning among African American children.
Shaun Anderson devotes himself to a vital but often overlooked cause. It is a sad fact that worldwide, 388,000 people a year--an average of more than 1,000 a day--are known to perish by drowning, although this data may dramatically understate the problem. In our nation and overseas, a disproportionate number of drowning victims, and victims of non-fatal injuries from submersion, are children from communities of color and from low-income backgrounds. The reasons are many, but the ``cure'' is obvious: teach youngsters how to swim, use safety techniques and respect the perils of water.
In pursuit of this goal, Shaun Anderson has assisted with clinics in Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, the Philippines and elsewhere. Most recently he helped the Bahamian Ministry of Education and International Olympic Committee in implementing a nationwide learn to swim program for the Bahamas.
Anderson also serves as a faculty member in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science at Norfolk State University. At Penn State he was a varsity athlete in two sports: three years on the track team and a four-year member of the swim team. In addition to his degree in Kinesiology from Penn State, he holds an M.B.A. from California State University--Long Beach.
It is no wonder that Shaun Anderson has been widely recognized and honored for his ``diversity'' of achievements. He is a multi-tasking role model and advocate who carries a life-saving message and the imperative of diversity into regions and disciplines never before imagined. Across our nation, young people of all races and communities are healthier, better swimmers--and very much afloat in life--thanks to a talented, tireless young man named Shaun Anderson.