Guest Column - February 2016
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The Power of Water
Aquatic Programs for Diverse Communities & Profitable Swim Centers

By Anne-Marie Spencer

Water immersion can also help promote bone health. According to studies reviewed in "Water Immersion Works," an exercise program can help attenuate bone resorption, enhance bone formation and increase bone mineral content. The book also reviews studies showing the positive effect water immersion can have on promoting nervous system health, reducing arthritis joint stress, preventing and lowering high blood pressure, and many other benefits that are of particular concern to older people.

Water immersion is also a valid component in programming for people with disabilities. Now that law requires a pool lift in all commercial pools to help aid people with disabilities in access and egress, ensuring that your pool provides programs for this demographic makes perfect sense, to ensure their enjoyment of the pool is better facilitated. Remember to think of your facility beyond pool access: Things like family dressing rooms, adequate parking, access ramps where needed, and other usage considerations need to be facilitated adequately.

To facilitate these programs, look to partnerships with local hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, organizations devoted to promoting services for people with disabilities, military service agencies, and senior service agencies as a starting point, which may result in both programmatic and financial benefits. By working in partnership to serve the community, organizations may be able to leverage resources, reduce duplication of effort, and decrease the amount of tax support required for delivering aquatic services. Organizations may be able to assist with certified trainers, program ideas and, most importantly, people interested in your programs.

One great example of an aquatic facility that has taken its programming to a new level to serve people of all ages and abilities is the Palm Desert Aquatic Center at the Y of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif. Besides offering public and private swim classes for all ages and abilities, they facilitate party rentals for birthdays, office events, reunions or just for fun. Reservations are required and include a choice of packages to facilitate the event. Lanes can be reserved for lap swimmers, and the center facilitates a wealth of additional interests through programs for wellness, triathlon swim training, scuba diving lessons, therapeutic and adaptive classes, lifeguard training, water polo, and field trips for local schools. They also rent a variety of gear from fins and lifejackets to monthly locker rentals. The center maintains a small shop where swimsuits and personal care items are available for purchase. In addition, a scholarship program helps provide financial assistance to swimmers who need funding. As a result, the facility is bustling with activity during open hours.

Karen Creasey, facility manager, said, "We know we need programs to attract all ages, abilities and interests to serve our diverse community and ensure our facility is profitable. A carefully curated schedule and engaged employees are the catalyst for ensuring success."

A successful aquatic facility understands that building a base of users and programs is critical in developing lifelong aquatics participants to the diverse, yet interconnected, aquatics options. Opening the facility to a variety of programs is essential in creating a base of regular participants and a sustainable aquatics community that ranges from youth to the most elderly.

Anne-Marie Spencer is vice president, Corporate Marketing & Communications for PlayCore. PlayCore helps build stronger communities around the world by advancing play through research, education and partnerships, infusing this learning into its complete family of brands. For more information, visit