Paragon Awards                           Presented By

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.

Carol Zaleski (USA)

President USA Swimming / Chairman FINA Technical Swimming Committee

2009 Paragon Award / Competitive Swimming

When Carol Zaleski becomes involved with something, she takes it all the way. It was her five children who got their mother involved in swimming when they became age group competitors in the early 1970s. It was at that time that Carol's volunteer influence began to flourish in all of the local, national and international arenas.


From the beginning, she held every Allegheny Mountain Swimming Committee office from Secretary to

General Chairman. Today she is in her fourth decade as competition judge, starter and referee for everything from the local LSC to the Olympic Games. Within USA Swimming, she developed materials for the First National Officials Training Program (1985). She has served as President of USASwimming an unprecedented four terms (1986-1988, 1988-1990, 1994-1996, 1996-1998). She has conducted workshops on officiating and administration of swimming throughout the United States and has served on various committees of the United States Olympic Committee including the Overview Commission with George Steinbrenner and the Olympic Games Preparation Committee. In 1992 she was elected President of United States Aquatic Sports.


She was elected to the FINA Technical Swimming Committee and served as Honorary Secretary (1988-1992) and as the first woman Chairman (1992-2005). She currently serves as Vice-Chairman and has been the leader of interpreting and formulating the rules for international swimming. She was elected President of UANAin 2003 and currently serves as Vice President. On theWorld Championship level, she was Competition Director (1991-Perth, 1994-Rome) and on the Olympic level she was Meet Referee (1984-Los Angeles, 1988-Seoul) and Competition Director (1992-Barcelona, 1996-Atlanta, 2000-Sydney, 2004-Athens). She is the first female referee both at a FINAWorld Championship and an Olympic Games.


Carol expresses what she believes is right for swimming and swimmers. She is warm, helpful and will spend the time needed to help solve a problem. Her honest approach to the sport has earned her the 1992 United States Swimming Award for Exceptional Contribution to the Sport of Swimming. In 1990, she has received the USS Athletes Appreciation Award and she was the keynote speaker at the first International Coaches Seminar held in Olympia, Greece. Currently she is the longest-serving member of the USASwimming Board of Directors (1979). Paragon is proud to honor this woman who ventures onto committees traditionally held by men.

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