Aquatic Access Celebrates Life of Founder John Nolan

Employees, friends and family of Aquatic Access founder John E. Nolan are remembering his life of innovation and service that benefited people with disabilities.

Nolan passed away in November at the age of 91, at his home in Louisville, Ky.

Nolan and his daughter, Linda, created Aquatic Access in 1987. David Nolan, John's son, joined Aquatic Access a few years later and designed the company's IGAT line of independently operated lifts for in-ground pools and spas.

John Nolan had a long history of making water more accessible for people with disabilities, his family says. In the late 1960s, he established J.E. Nolan & Company and produced a bathtub lift. At a 1981 Los Angeles pool and spa show, he introduced the Nolan Poolift, an independently operated, water-powered lift for swimming pools.

Linda remembered, "We thought that everyone would be very impressed with this new device, and we would be swamped with orders. But the disability rights movement was in its infancy, and most dealers responded that they didn't know anyone who would need such an item. At that time, I would never have believed it would take 30 years for such products to be required at public pools."

Nevertheless, many people with disabilities and their families were helped by Nolan's innovations. An Aquatic Access news release said Nolan "was always most pleased to hear the hundreds of stories from and about the people who benefited from using his products -- those who were confined to wheelchairs on land, but could actually walk in the water; the mother whose paralyzed daughter could now stand and pivot; people who actually learned to walk again after injury or illness; those who maintained their fitness by exercising in water; the man who could now play with his children in the hotel pool."

"Dad has been described as a true original, one of a kind, a great man, and an inspiration," Linda said. "It's been extremely gratifying that so many people have let us know that his life truly made a difference in their lives."

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at

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