Feature Article - June 2008
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The Deep End

Keep it Going

Aquatic facilities are poised to take on a larger role in society—"as long as we don't mess it up," Lachocki said.

"When I say, 'so long as we don't mess it up,' I'm referring to the forces in favor of bringing more people to the water and the forces opposed to it," Lachocki explained. "Air quality and water quality are important. If we have continuing increases in recreational water illnesses where thousands of people are affected, that's a force that's moving people away from using aquatic facilities. If we continue to have drownings, that drives people away. Suction entrapment, diving accidents, chemical exposures—these things are all pushing people away."

So what force is working against these negatives to draw people to the water?

"The things drawing people to our facilities are mega-trends like an aging population, a growingly sedentary population, the need for our country to make sure people are exercising more and eating right," Lachocki said. "We are certainly in the field of being able to give people a fun, healthy exercise avenue to live a healthier life."

The good news, Lachocki added, is that people are drawn to the water in an instinctive way, and aquatic facilities can take advantage of that attraction.

"Civilization was founded on the water, and all you need to do is watch children to see water's instinctive draw," he said. "When you look at the aquatic recreational facility today compared to 20 years ago—what a fun experience it is! There's lazy rivers, slides, wave pools—it's unbelievable, the things that are available. We should see tremendous growth, but there are forces pushing away from that.

"The good news is that we have the ability to make sure that those negative forces are minimized," Lachocki added. "The question is, will we step up and do it, or will we wait for the legislators to tell us we have to do it? And really, there's only one intelligent way to go. There's no one with more knowledge and awareness of how things need to be done than the people in our field. So we need to make sure lifeguards, management and operators are trained and certified. We need to make sure we're aware of the latest science. We need to diversify how we program our facilities to attract a larger audience and give them what they're looking for. It's just a matter of learning what winning strategies are out there and implementing them."