Guest Column - September 2009
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NSPF

Creating Recession-Resistant Aquatic Facilities

By Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D.


Therapy & Rehabilitation

Since water reduces strain and often increases blood flow to injuries, aquatic therapy is gaining greater acceptance with researchers, physicians and health-care providers. As a result, more providers in the medical community are exploring opportunities to deliver therapy and rehabilitation programs in the water.

There are organizations that host a spectrum of educational programs and conferences to train staff members in this field. They can also help support programming, sales and marketing efforts. Two reputable organizations that are excellent resources include the Aquatic Therapy & Rehabilitation Institute (www.atri.org) and the Aquatic Resource Network (www.aquaticnet.com)

Recreation & Play

There is nothing like playing in the water. Waterparks have transformed aquatic recreation by bringing a spectrum of aquatic play features to the public. Play features have become more common at many pools—not just at waterparks. The World Waterpark Association (www.waterparks.org) hosts an annual conference and regional meetings, which help facilities implement play features. Also, the Aquatic Play Feature Handbook and corresponding online training program, available at www.eproacademy.org, educates managers and operators on the maintenance of these unique features.

Facility Expansion

During a recession it may be difficult to justify investment in new facilities. Recreational facility management should consider if they can borrow (rent) other local facilities or contract with qualified instructors to begin delivering new programs. For example, therapy or swim lessons require warmer water temperatures than those available in a competition pool. Nearby hotels, health clubs, community or apartment pools may not be fully utilized and may have the physical attributes to build a program, attract students and earn revenue. Similarly, contracting with qualified instructors may be more economical than training staff. After the program is implemented, revenue and expenses will be better defined to help justify future investment.

Building or expanding an aquatic facility is a complex process. There are tremendous resources available to help organizations best match community need to facility design. USA Swimming hosts a Build-A-Pool conference that focuses on the planning, programming, designing and building of aquatic facilities. In 2010, five regional conferences are planned.

(www.usaswimming.org/facilities).

Good or bad, the future of aquatic facilities is in our control. Aquatic facilities that deliver programs that create value to broader user groups have a distinct advantage in achieving profitability. This is especially true during a down economy. Fortunately, there are tremendous resources available to help make your aquatic facility recession-resistant.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., is CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation (NSPF). He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Louisiana State University and his bachelor's from Lock Haven University, Pa. Lachocki has researched and published in diverse fields including catalysts, detergents, solvents and recreational water. He was awarded six patents that have been issued and are practiced in at least eight countries. Prior to joining NSPF in 2003, he was responsible for product development for a leading recreational water treatment chemical and equipment company. For more information, visit www.nspf.org.