Guest Column - February 2009
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Design Corner

Managing a Cutting-Edge Aquatic Center

By Kevin Post & Michelle Schwartz

The deck management team supervises lessons, recreation and competition programming activities with a staff of aquatic instructors, coaching and sports staff, and lifeguards. Staff qualifications include Certified Water Safety Instructor, Certified Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Certified Aquatic Fitness Professional, and first aid. Highly trained lifeguards must possess a lifeguard, CPR and first aid certificate by the American Red Cross, YMCA/YWCA or Ellis and Associates. Lifeguards must be screened, and it is recommended that they be at least 18 years old to possess a desired maturity level for potentially saving lives.

The pool operations team includes the overall maintenance of the pool system and waterpark features for risk reduction to the users, employees and facility. Pump room technicians include a unique skill set, including Certified Pool Operator (CPO) or Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) for day-to-day chemical knowledge in order to operate the facility in compliance with the local health department requirements. Operations include industry knowledge for pre-season inspection to identify and fix necessary parts and repairs prior to opening. The team must meet critical needs during the season, complete the closing of the facility in the fall, perform post-season inspections to help identify and fix necessary repairs and major renovations during the off-season, and perform winter maintenance during the winter months.

Aquatic Consultant Assistance

Hiring an experienced aquatic consultant can be a plus when deciding how to find experienced professionals to manage a new aquatic center. A consultant can offer professional placement, whereby they conduct a local and national search as directed by the owner to fill key positions. Through nationwide networking capabilities, they may be in contact with soon-to-be-graduates in the aquatic field looking for professional placement. As the market demands more aquatic professionals, colleges and universities are responding by providing additional curriculum for aquatic professional career choices. Additionally, the rise of campus conjugal recreation and competitive aquatic facilities provides "on the job" training.

The U.S. leisure market is fueled predominantly by baby boomer spending and young professionals with an interest in travel, attractions and activities. While not competing for the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences award (at least not yet), municipal aquatic centers must strive for excellence in impeccable service due to the increased importance of leisure goals. Managing a cutting-edge aquatic center is contingent on a professional staff with enormous responsibility and a growing skill set.


Kevin Post is a project manager with Counsilman-Hunsaker, specializing in feasibility analysis for communities. He assists clients in preparing for the development and capital investment requirements of a new project.
Michelle Schwartz is a contract writer for the Counsilman-Hunsaker team. She focuses on research and writing feasibility studies, master plans, strategic plans, marketing narratives and assisting engineers and architects in writing articles for publication. For more information, visit