Feature Article - February 2007
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Special Supplement: A Complete Guide to Aquatic Centers

By Jessic Royer Ocken

Other Potential Programs

Keep kids involved after they've completed swimming lessons, suggests the U.S. Water Fitness Association. "Some parents think it's time for soccer after their child can swim," said John Spannuth, head of the association. But you can lure them back to the pool with choices such as intermediate and advanced swimming classes, a "youth splash" water fitness class that includes lots of games, a chance to join a swim team or an opportunity to volunteer as an instructor's assistant and teach other kids.

Offer express fitness options. The U.S. Water Fitness Association reports that most water exercise classes are an hour long, so consider some shorter, more intense options for busy people on the go. This also frees up more pool time.

Use the pool as a social setting. The Student Recreation Center at Appalachian State University has hosted "Dive-In Movies" for years, and in fact, when the new facility was constructed, the university made sure the indoor pool area included an enormous blank wall to serve as the movie screen. "We watch 'Finding Nemo' or the old 'Jaws.' People bring their air mattresses, and we have a party," explained Joe R. Carter, director of university recreation.

In Las Vegas, the Municipal Pool has been home to Beach Party Splash, Hot Tropical Nights (with polynesian dancers) and Safety Day with the local fire department. "Events bring people to the pool," noted Tammy Hawkins, aquatics coordinator. "You can expose them to what aquatics has to offer." Then perhaps they'll be back for one of your program offerings.

Go roll a log. You've seen those crazy lumberjacks on cable TV—they balance on a log in the water by rolling it with their feet. Spannuth got a very enthusiastic program going at a YMCA years ago using an actual log, but these days, even better, you can purchase a specially made synthetic one that won't get so waterlogged. Try classes and competitions and special events. Here's your chance to bring an extreme sport to even the most traditional of swimming pools.

Create a recreational swim team. If you haven't had a team in the past, you may not be ready to leap immediately to cutthroat competition, but "pre-competitive swimming programs teach basic fundamentals and show kids how much fun the water can be," Spannuth said. Then, once you've got some swimmers ready for the next level, you can begin your own team or refer them to a more competitive program in your area.

Remember, it's a multipurpose body of water. Take a tip from Appalachian State University and make your pool open to all. When their water is not full of swimmers, it's likely to host the crew team for an indoor rowing clinic, an instructional session for new kayakers, a water polo match, a water basketball game or a group learning to scuba dive.

Teach adults to swim. There are plenty of people out there who are over age 5, but not particularly proficient in the pool. Most swimming lessons are aimed at the younger set, so you can make older students much more comfortable by developing a program just for them.

Think beyond the swim team. In addition to competitive swimmers, the Las Vegas Municipal Pool hosts water-polo teams, synchronized swimming teams and a diving program. They also offer lifeguard and CPR certifications, and they host the annual all-area Lifeguard Olympics.