By the Numbers: Aquatic Survey Respondents

If you're a long-time reader of Recreation Management, you likely are familiar with our annual State of the Industry Report, where we delve deeply into the who's, what's, where's and how's of recreation, sports and fitness facility management. In this issue, we introduce more specific research into the aquatics industry.

The responses represented here are the result of a separate survey sent specifically to respondents whose facilities include aquatic elements, from swimming pools to splash play and more. We'll be reporting the results in this and upcoming issues.

This month, let's take a look at the basics: Who are our aquatic survey respondents, and what types of pools and aquatic facilities do they represent?

Nearly three out of 10 (29.1 percent) respondents to the survey were from the Midwest. This includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The second largest number of participants were from the West, with 23 percent of respondents reporting in from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Figure 1 - Type of Facility

Smaller numbers of respondents reported in from the Northeast (17.5 percent) and the South Atlantic states (17.2 percent). The Northeast includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. South Atlantic respondents reported from Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

The smallest region represented was the South Central region, with 13 percent of respondents reporting from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas.

Figure 2 - Pool & Aquatic TypesWhen it comes to the type of communities represented by the Aquatic Survey respondents, the largest number were from suburban areas. Some 43.3 percent of respondents said they were from the suburbs. They were followed by those from rural areas, at 30.2 percent. Urban areas had the smallest number of respondents, with 26.4 percent indicating they were from urban communities.

When it comes to the type of facility represented by respondents, parks and recreation departments and districts were the most common, with nearly half (47.7 percent) of respondents indicating they worked for parks and rec. (See Figure 1.) They were followed by colleges and universities (14 percent); YMCAs, YWCAs, JCCs and Boys & Girls Clubs (7.8 percent); campgrounds, RV parks, and private/youth camps (6.3 percent); community or private recreation and sports centers (5.3 percent); schools and school districts (5.2 percent); sports, health and fitness clubs, and medical fitness facilities (3.3 percent); golf clubs and country clubs (2.7 percent); and resorts and resort hotels (2.6 percent). Another 5.2 percent of respondents were from other types of facilities.

Outdoor swimming pools were the most common aquatic type included as part of survey respondents' facilities. (See Figure 2.) Some 66.4 percent said their facility included at least one outdoor swimming pool. They were followed by indoor swimming pools (60.3 percent); splash play areas (46.9 percent); hot tubs, spas and whirlpools (35.5 percent); aquatic parks, which include facilities that feature multiple aquatic amenities with a focus on swimming pools (31 percent); and waterparks, which include facilities that feature multiple aquatic amenities with a focus on rides and waterslides (15.5 percent).

A majority of respondents (59.2 percent) indicated that their aquatic facilities are open year-round, while 40.8 percent reported that their operations are seasonal. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3 Season of OperationAmong respondents with seasonal operations, a majority reported that their facilities open for business in May, and close in September. Some 57.9 percent of those with seasonal operations said they opened in May. Another 27.9 percent open in June, and 7.9 percent open in April, with the remainder reporting that they open during other months of the year. More than half (52.1 percent) of respondents with seasonal operations said they closed their aquatic facilities down in September. Another 30.1 percent said they close in August, and 9.8 percent close in October, with the remainder of seasonal operations shutting down in other months.

In the coming months, we will delve more deeply into the responses from our aquatic respondents, taking a closer look at the amenities and programs they include as part of their facilities, their operating budgets, drowning prevention, water and chemical conservation, and more. Next month, we'll dive into aquatic respondents' top concerns and what they consider to be the top issues currently facing the aquatics industry. Stay tuned!


This report is based on a survey conducted for Recreation Management by Signet Research Inc., an independent research company. An e-mail was broadcast and respondents were invited to participate. From the launch of the survey on Dec. 12, 2017, to the closing of the survey on Jan. 2, 2018, 1,194 returns were received. The findings of this survey may be accepted as accurate, at a 95 percent confidence level, within a sampling tolerance of approximately +/- 2.8 percent.