Feature Article - May/June 2006
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Undercover Operations

With proper planning, adding a pool enclosure can boost patronage and profits

By Dawn Klingensmith

From the brisk Eastern Seaboard to the sunny coast of Southern California, aquatics programs are going under cover. It hardly takes detective work to figure out why. Covered pools keep out leaves and other pesky debris, not to mention midnight skinny dippers. They shut out chilly temperatures, thereby extending daily water time, lengthening the swim season and boosting patronage. At the same time, they trap in solar energy and keep chlorine from dissipating.

For all those considerations, though, consumer demand is the main thing driving the trend toward enclosed pools. Many Baby Boomers and seniors, for example, have come to rely on aquatic exercise for a low-impact workout. Needless to say, shivery pool water and chilly outdoor air offer no succor to sore joints.

Kids, too, are quick to complain about the cold.

"At both ends of the age spectrum, you've got swimmers who are more comfortable inside than outside," says Randy Mendioroz, whose firm, Aquatic Design Group in Carlsbad, Calif., completes 60 to 80 projects a year, some 10 percent of which involve enclosures.

For these and other reasons, pool enclosures have started showing up on the wish lists of many sports and recreation facilities. And while motives for going under cover are no mystery, figuring out which type of enclosure to buy—and whether your market even will support it—requires some sleuthing.