Feature Article - July 2008
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Splash City Roadmap

Trends in Aquatic Design & Programming

By Kate Bongiovanni

The family excursion to the swimming pool isn't what it used to be. Forget the days of simple outdoor rectangles open in the warm months that might have an occasional waterslide or diving board and a separate wading pool for tykes. Or look beyond the one-track mind of the indoor pool built adjacent to the high school or middle school for use by the district's swim teams and perhaps the park district's learn-to-swim and open-swim programs. Competing for attention are water play areas, ramped-up indoor and outdoor swimming pool facilities with programs to match, and waterparks with attractions for all ages.

"Many cities are seeing a drop-off in attendance because their flat-water pools simply don't hold the same appeal they once did," said Aleatha Ezra, director of park member development at the World Waterpark Association (WWA). "Once people have experienced the fun of a waterpark, they are less interested in visiting a regular flat-water pool. Plus, many of the nation's pools are getting older, and the costs to repair and maintain them are expensive. So these facilities are replacing their old pools with mini-waterparks."

When it comes to aquatics for the entire family, facilities are taking a 21st-century design approach that's evolving the structures as well as the program offerings and learning environments.