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Meet the Founder

About Joe Zemaitis

The Foundation for Aquatic Safety and Training (FAST) was inspired by Braxton Bilbrey, a 7 year old boy, who became the youngest person ever to swim from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shoreline. Motivated by Braxton’s story, over 50 swimmers ages 8 to 18 made that same 1.4 mile stretch of frigid open-water swim the following year. These competitive swimmers became the first FAST ambassadors of water safety, reaching out to the next generation of young people with the message of water safety and drowning prevention.

As coach, I was motivated to help Braxton and the other swimmers because I believe every child has a core genius, a natural talent, something he or she is particularly good at. In almost every child’s life there is someone or something that brings out the very best in them. For the kids that’s what FAST is all about—Kids Saving Kids! Both the lives of the swimmers involved and the lives of the high-risk children they reach with our drowning prevention message are changed forever! FAST Talkers and FAST’s Water Safety for Refugees programs are helping make Arizona water safer for children. We also sponsor major media events designed to keep the drowning prevention message in the media spotlight all year long.

I am passionate about health and education issues and using sports to help kids excel in life. In fact, I wrote a book about it, “Joe’s Rules.” The event that significantly impacted my life was the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship. In 1998, at the age of 18, I become the youngest ever to break the ten hour mark—setting a 19 & Under world record. Later I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lake Forest College and was a finalist at the Arizona level for the Rhodes Scholarship. Currently I am the head coach of Swim Neptune, a year-round swim program that I built with over 300 competitive swimmers at six pool locations across the Valley. We train hard so the impossible become imaginable and the imaginable becomes achievable—a lesson that I learned in life that has extended far beyond water’s edge.