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Feature Article - June 2018

Aquatics

A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities


Hot tubs, spas and whirlpools are most commonly found in the West, where 41.3 percent of aquatic respondents said they feature hot tubs. They were followed by the South Atlantic region, where 38.9 percent of aquatic respondents have hot tubs. The Northeast was least likely to be home to hot tubs, with 23.9 percent of aquatic respondents there reporting they have at least one. In terms of community type, suburban respondents are the most likely to include hot tubs, with 41.9 percent of aquatic respondents from the suburbs reporting that they include at least one hot tub, spa or whirlpool as part of their facilities.

Different types of aquatic amenities are typically more common among specific types of facilities. For example, indoor swimming pools are more commonly expected in college recreation facilities and YMCAs than they are at parks, whereas splash play areas are more commonly found in parks.

Outdoor swimming pools are most commonly found among camp respondents' facilities. Some 95.3 percent of aquatic respondents from camps said they have at least one outdoor pool. They were followed by parks (81.5 percent) and community recreation centers (75.6 percent).

Indoor swimming pools are most commonly found among colleges and universities, where 96.5 percent of aquatic respondents said they currently have at least one indoor pool. They were followed by health clubs (91.2 percent) and Ys (89.6 percent).

Aquatic respondents from parks were the most likely to report that they currently have at least one splash play area. Some 65.7 percent of aquatic respondents from parks said they have a splash play area (up from 57 percent in 2017). They were followed by community centers (55 percent).

Waterparks are rare among most facility types. Only parks respondents commonly include them. Nearly one-third (31.3 percent) of aquatic respondents from parks said they have at least one waterpark.

Hot tubs, spas and whirlpools are most commonly found in the facilities of aquatic respondents from health clubs. Some 79.4 percent of aquatic respondents from health clubs said their facilities include hot tubs. They were followed by Ys (55.9 percent) and community centers (54.5 percent).

As usual, the majority of aquatic facilities covered by the report are used either for leisure and recreation, or for a combination of recreation and competition. Only 2 percent of respondents with aquatics said their pools are used for competition alone. More than half (53 percent) said their aquatic facilities are home to both recreational activities and competitive swimming. And 45 percent said their pools are used only for recreation and leisure. (See Figure 38.)

Pools used only for leisure and recreation are most commonly found among respondents from camps. Some 93.2 percent of camp respondents with aquatics said their pools are used only for leisure and recreation. They were followed by health clubs (64.7 percent) and parks (40.3 percent). Aquatic respondents from schools are the least likely to have recreation-only pools, with just 12.5 percent of school respondents indicating their pools are used for this purpose.

Conversely, competition-only pools are most prevalent among school respondents. While few aquatic respondents overall said their pools are used for competition only, among schools, more than a quarter (25.8 percent) of aquatic respondents use their pools only for competition. They were followed by community centers, though only 6.6 percent of these respondents said their pools are used for competition only. No health club, Y or camp respondents have competition-only pools.

Combination pools, used for both recreation and competition, are most commonly found among aquatic respondents from colleges and universities. Some 68.9 percent of these respondents said they had combined leisure and competition pools. They were followed by Ys (61.3 percent) and schools (61.3 percent).

Pools & Budgets

From 2015 to 2017, and from 2017 to 2019, respondents whose facilities include aquatics report smaller increases in overall operating expenses, when compared with respondents who have no aquatic elements. From 2015 to 2017, aquatic respondents' overall operating expenses grew by 3.6 percent, from $2,229,000 to $2,310,000. This compares with a 5.9 percent increase for respondents without aquatics, whose expenses grew from $1,171,000 to $1,240,000.

Looking forward, aquatic respondents expect their overall operating costs to grow by 6.9 percent from 2017 to 2019, to an average of $2,470,000. This compares with a 7.3 percent increase for respondents without aquatics, whose expenses will grow to an average of $1,330,000.

The average operating expense for aquatics only increased at a faster rate from 2015 to 2017 than the overall operating budget, and from 2017 to 2019, it is expected to increase at a faster rate as well. Aquatic operating expenses grew 7 percent from 2015 to 2017, from an average of $458,000 to $490,000. From 2017 to 2019, aquatic operating expenses are expected to grow a further 10.2 percent, to an average of $540,000. (See Figure 39.)


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