Feature Article - January 2007
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Beyond the Lap Lane

Get more people in the pool with fresh aquatic programming for adults

By Stacy St. Clair

OK, let's stop for a moment to inventory your aquatic facility.

Zero-depth entry? Check.

Lazy river? Check.

Splash-play elements such as waterfalls, cannons and soakers? Check. Check. Check.

Diverse programming options that engage patrons of all ages? Anyone?

That's what we thought. Herein lies one of the biggest issues facing aquatic centers today. While the industry has developed a must-have list when it comes to amenities, programs are often overlooked.

Ignoring programming needs can be detrimental to even the best-designed facilities. No matter how many bells and whistles a center has, its finances will suffer without classes, events and other offerings to pull patrons in and keep them coming back.

Most facilities already offer ample programming for children with myriad learn-to-swim classes and competitive teams. It's the adult customers who don't have enough reasons to dip their toes in the water.

"Where is most of the programming today?" asked Melon Dash, president of the Transpersonal Swimming Institute. "It's all for kids. There's a huge market for adults that isn't being used."

Adult classes not only increase patronage, they also help the bottom line—especially for warmer-climate and indoor pools—because they encourage daytime use. In the end, the ability to fully program a pool during operating hours can spell the difference between turning a profit and merely scraping by.

Still not sure how to program your facility? We help you take this critical plunge by looking at programs that have succeeded in pools across the nation. They work because they recognize the various needs and skill levels of their adult patrons. With a little creativity and extra effort, your aquatic center can make the same splash with your post-adolescent customers in no time.

"There are so many advantages of aquatic classes," said June Lindle Chewning of the Aquatic Exercise Association. "It encourages diverse participation as well as diverse programming."