Feature Article - July 2008
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Splash City Roadmap

Trends in Aquatic Design & Programming

By Kate Bongiovanni

World Aquatic Health Conference

Want to learn about the latest and greatest in all things aquatic? The 2008 World Aquatic Health Conference, Oct. 15 to 17 in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the place to learn about the science of aquatics and how the latest developments can help reduce risk, improve programming, attract more participants and increase profits. It's also the perfect opportunity to network with others in the aquatic community, and it's not just for facility operators, but coaches and trainers of all kinds. A special symposium on Oct. 15 addresses how aquatic exercise can help improve non-aquatic athletes.

For more information, visit www.nspf.org.

Community Learning

Beyond learn-to-swim lessons, one of the latest trends in the pool aims to combat drowning, an unfortunate occurrence that we hear about all too often, especially in places where pools are a backyard necessity and waterfronts are a fact of life. Since it is a cause of death that can be avoided with proper guidance and education, the U.S. Swimming Foundation, the YMCA and the American Red Cross, among others, have created programming to help prevent drowning, but just as importantly, provide low-cost options to get people in the water.

Earlier this year, the USA Swimming Foundation and the YMCA of the USA teamed up to offer free or low-cost swim lessons in Raleigh, N.C., San Jose, Calif., Philadelphia, and Omaha, Neb. Between 10 and 20 schools in each area will have programming available. The partnership helps bring USA Swimming's Make A Splash anti-drowning program to at-risk kids who are part of their schools' free or discounted lunch program. They'll learn water safety skills and basic stroke technique with YMCA instructors.

In Summit County, Ohio, the American Red Cross takes its foundation as a leader of swimming and lifeguard instruction since 1914 to offer a community-wide learn-to-swim program in time for summer.

"The program relies on the dedication of community volunteers as well as partnerships with many local facilities," said Jessica Wright, a client services specialist at the Summit County Red Cross. "All of our instructors are certified American Red Cross Water Safety Instructors and volunteer their time. We are also lucky to have Water Safety Instructor Aides as well as helpers who are not certified instructors."

The program has been in operation for 62 years and has garnered the support of the community. Wright explained that several area pools run by parks and recreation departments or metro parks within the county are involved in the program.

"The local facilities that help us bring this program do not receive any compensation and donate the pool space to the program," she said. And the program needs the facilities it can get: Instructors welcome 500 to 600 participants each year, and they are always looking to expand. Two of the facilities offer adult lessons for the 40 to 60 adults who turn up every year, and one is adults-only, according to Wright.