Feature Article - February 2004
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In the Swim

The Best Strategies for Aquatic Center Peak Performance

By Kim Tobin

Programming to Please

Whether offering activities for a core group of residents and students or outside groups who rent space, program choices regularly evolve, and it's crucial to stay attuned to what your users want and need. The following program examples help show the breadth of available options that can help populate your pool and include newer entrants to the mix, like underwater hockey and therapeutic offerings.


Swim lessons

Summer camps or community group recreational swim and water safety programs

Lifeguard training, CPR and first-aid classes


Scuba diving

Skin diving

Synchronized swimming


Underwater hockey (Not for any pool, this sport is most successful with a tile-bottomed pool that has a large, unsloped bottom space on which to play.)

Inner-tube water polo

Water basketball

Water volleyball


Beyond tried-and-true water aerobics, offerings include deep-water exercise, water-based tai chi, water yoga, water treadmill classes, pre- and post-natal aquatic fitness, water jogging, and pool Spinning (featuring special submerged exercise bikes).


Helping the ill, injured or disabled feel better, therapy pools can be an asset to a facility's programming and are growing in popularity. Having a separate pool used primarily for therapy has helped spawn contractual relationships with healthcare providers to enhance treatment for their patients and provide an opportunity for them to explore potential therapeutic options for their own facilities. Depending on the type of program, it may be run by a licensed therapist or an unlicensed trainer who is trained in a specific program by an organization (for example, the Arthritis Foundation conducts training courses for arthritis-patient therapy).

Therapy pools are usually kept at a water temperature above 90şF and may include special structural adaptations like wheelchair-access ramps that lead into the water.


Arthritis-patient therapy

Adaptive swim lessons for developmentally disabled swimmers

Stroke-victim therapy

Therapeutic massage

Traction Techniques

WATSU (taking its name from "WATer shiatSU," a floating therapeutic massage that can be used for both injuries or wellness)

AICHI (an eastern-based sequential program of water movement that is beneficial for range of motion, muscular stretching and flexibility)