The Annual Paragon Awards, sponsored by Pentair Aquatic Systems, are presented for outstanding contributions to: Competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Competitive Diving, Aquatic Safety, Synchronized Swimming and Recreational Swimming.
John Leonard (USA)
2010 Paragon Award – Competitive Swimming
Since 1985, John Leonard has been the Executive Director of the American Swimming Coaches Association in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Under Leonard's leadership, the Association has grown from 1600 to 6,500 members. He has helped develop educational programs and services that include 26 different types of coaching schools, a Certification program that has certified over 11,000 coaches in 24 years and a model national learn to swim school in SwimAmerica which has taught over 3.4 million American youngsters to swim. He has turned the ASCA into an advocacy force that is respected world-wide. Throughout his career, Leonard has been an active coach in Syracuse, NY, developing national finalists and a 1976 Olympian while building an 800 member swim team, Lake Forrest College and Swim Team in Illinois and various teams in Florida.
In 1988, John was a founder of the World Swimming Coaches Association and continues to serve on the Organization's Board. He received the USA Athletes Appreciation Award in 1996, for his strong anti-doping actions in world sport; the Collegiate/Scholastic Trophy from NISCA in 2005, for his contributions to swimming; one of the 25 Most Influential People in all of Aquatics, by Aquatics International magazine; and one of the ten most influential people in USA Swimming by Swimming World magazine. He serves on multiple committees for USA Swimming, including the Olympic International Operations and International Relations Committees, and is a member of the FINA International Coaches Commission. He has served on 18 USA National Team Staffs and at seven Olympic Games. He has served as Chairman of the United States Swimming Steering Committee for the USA Olympic Team in Swimming.
An accomplished writer and editor, Leonard has authored over 1000 articles on swimming, written four books and edited three others, in addition to making clinic presentations in 26 countries. He regularly provides presentations from groups ranging from swimming parents and coaches to sports administrators. John has led the ASCA in Advocacy of multiple issues having significantly influenced the fight against doping in sport, and the creation of a Coaches Commission within FINA. In 2008 and 2009, John led the successful effort to modify the FINA rules about swimwear that resulted in the removal of the "Technical Suits" from the world stage.