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Supplement Feature - February 2013

Buoyed by Innovation

New Aquatic Design Trends Offer a Sea of Options

By Chris Gelbach


Addition Without Subtraction

Wet climbing walls situated poolside so climbers can fall back into the water are also becoming more and more popular as a skill-based amenity to attract the tween and teen demographic. They are additionally part of the growing trend to add recreational elements that make competition pools more versatile without negatively affecting existing programming.

"Climbing walls at the side of the pool don't take up a lot of space," said Roderick. "Facilities can usually even retrofit those in and not affect their existing program, so they're something that managers can add to the facility if they don't have a lot of money to add some interest back to the pool."

Other recreational elements are also being added to traditional competition pools in a strategically unobtrusive way to add versatility without compromising performance. "At a couple of YMCAs that we're doing now," said Roderick, "the water features don't take up any space in the pool because we either hang them on the ceiling, or we put them on the deck and they cantilever over into the pool." This adds recreation appeal when they're in use, and visual interest at all times without negatively affecting the program space when they're not on.

This trend is being further propelled by the fact that these recreational features for competition pools are becoming more affordable than ever before. "Instead of having a cement pond, for very similar budgets you can put some organic feel to it and get some real design and make it a whole lot more fun," Cloward said. He noted that the most common features being added—without affecting the competition programming element—include small play structures, smaller waterslides, splash decks for tots, zero entries and lazy rivers, sometimes with small wave generators. "You say waves to somebody and most people immediately think of a great big wave pool, and you don't have to do that," said Cloward. "You still need a zero-entry beach to break out onto, but we can put waves in a fairly small pool."