Feature Article - February 2006
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Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Aquatic Centers

Just Add Water

By Kelli Anderson


For many facilities, good design also requires planning for multiple use. Although studies have shown that greater amounts of recreational use provide greater monetary returns (which increase recovery costs of construction, reduce subsidy rates and increase revenues), aquatic centers should not ignore the need to accommodate lap swimmers and competitive users.

In an ideal situation (read: healthy budget), aquatic centers can plan for multiple pools designated for around-the-clock recreational activity, lessons, competitive use and rentals for parties. With multiple pools, there are many obvious advantages. Revenue-producing recreation can continue without interruption, special-event rentals can be relegated to a portion of the facility instead of requiring a complete shutdown, and even repairs of these separate systems can be done without having to inconvenience all the users.

If budgets won't budge, however, or if expanding an existing facility is not an option, there are some modest and creative ways to design for multiple use. Recreational features like water slides with separate run-outs are a great solution to a multitasking dilemma. They don't take up much additional space, are relatively affordable and allow some recreational activity to continue while other programming takes place.

Swim-in-place systems for lap swimmers are another way to add a lap-lane element to your facility when space is a premium. For the DesPeres Community Center in St. Louis, the wave pool was designed to change into a lap pool with the flip of a switch. Depending on what elements your users want most will determine how much space and how many elements you will need to take into consideration.


Swabbing the deck, a task relegated to some unlucky yeoman in many a Hollywood film, is alive and well in today's aquatic centers. In the war against waterborne illnesses, properly disinfecting and cleaning pool decks is a first line of defense.

Regular cleaning and disinfecting regimens not only will prevent the spread of disease but also will keep deck surfaces from getting slippery from biofilm growth. Think: liability prevention 101.

How to clean deck surfaces will vary, obviously, according to type of material and manufacturer's instructions. For very large areas, commercial steam cleaning systems may be in order, especially as cleaning and disinfecting by hand would take far too long.

However, in smaller facilities, dirt, grease and scum can be cleaned effectively with a stiff brush and nonabrasive and eco-friendly cleaning solutions. (Check with the distributor for recommendations and to be sure the cleanser will not harm pool water in the event any gets into the pool).

Making your own cleaning and disinfecting solutions can be a great cost-saving alternative. Check with an aquatic consultant for full instructions. Such "homemade" solutions can be applied to the deck with a garden hose or hardware-store-variety air-pressure sprayer. After a thorough rinsing with fresh water and a high-pressure washer or nozzle, bacteria and pathogens should be gone.