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Feature Article - April 2005

Programming Your Pool

A closer look at aquatics facilities that used their successes and failures to grow

By Kyle Ryan

Programming is the great leveler of the aquatics playing field. Without it, the newest, flashiest facility will be a shell of its potential. With it, even the most boring rectangular pool can bustle with activity. Speaking generally, the competition for people's time grows ever more fierce as time passes. It takes effort to reserve a place in their busy schedules, and if you can't do it, someone else can.

Scott Irvine, aquatics coordinator for the city of Las Vegas, runs an award-winning, 40,000-square-foot facility that is the city's crown jewel of aquatics. He also supervises the city's other, more ordinary pools, including two that are more than 40 years old.

When a nearby YMCA opened a large play pool, one of the city's old pools suffered. A six-lane, 25-meter pool with diving board, it lacked anything resembling pizzazz.

"We know there were kids in the area because there's a middle school right there," Irvine says. "We couldn't get those families to come out and swim if our lives depended on it."

So Irvine and his staff changed tactics by shifting their focus to preschoolers. They painted the fence in primary colors, created more shade and bought pool toys, life jackets and noodles. Then they sent letters to preschools offering two-hour exclusive rentals, which decreased in price as rental quantity increased. Pool staff supervised the kids and provided some learn-to-swim instruction.

"We tried to accommodate them in any way we could, and that's actually proven very successful this year," Irvine says. "Our pool is so booked with outside programming…We've made more money in that pool than we have in the last few years combined."

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