Supplement Feature - February 2009
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In the Flow

Aquatic Design Trends

By Richard Zowie

Upcoming Trends

When it comes to the future, those who are curious always want to know what aquatic industry experts see when they peer into the proverbial crystal ball. For Yarger and Mendioroz, there are a few fascinating things on the horizon.

If you're the kind who likes the idea of swimming with fish, perhaps you might be enchanted by the idea of clear slides through an aquarium. According to Yarger, these transparent slides would let you swim inside a compartment in an aquarium as if you're swimming with fish.

Other ideas out there could involve swimming facilities where others could watch people swimming in an aquarium. It's for those who don't want to swim but who enjoy seeing others swim.

"We worked with manufacturers of play elements after we did that and developed it and marketed it to other people," Yarger said. "We've done designs that go to other places."

In this time of increasing concern about global warming and an urgent call to wean the world off of fossil fuels, Mendioroz feels that the aquatic center market will start to become more and more environmentally friendly. For starters, this might include a big increase in solar heating for pools along with more energy-efficient pump motors. He suggests variable frequency drives to reduce electrical costs on circulation pumps.

Any environmental trend will become popular if it helps to reduce facility costs.

Mendioroz feels that in 20 years, a revolution will take place when alternate energy sources start becoming more commonly used. Other alternate energy sources of the future include third-generation solar power and electrical power produced from nano-solar technology.

People have to learn to operate their centers smarter if they want to remain open, Mendioroz said.

"The biggest operating expense is labor so if you can design things smartly and reduce staff and need less to run the facility it'll be better," he said.

In California, where they suffered rolling blackouts earlier this decade, it is imperative to have aquatic centers that are fiscally efficient, as well as energy-efficient.

"How do you justify opening a public swimming pool when people have no power in their homes?" Mendioroz asked. "We figured we had to do something to reduce energy costs."

Otherwise, the day might come where swimming pools will dry up because nobody will be able to afford to run and use them.

One trend that Yarger sees on the horizon is nostalgic in its approach. It involves taking 15- to 20-year-old swimming pools and making them competitive again to prevent the slide of losing customers.

"That's probably more of a trend that will happen," he said. "Deciding what to do with a pool with no zero entry and no slide and seeing what can be done with a pool like that with 10 to 12 years of life left in it to get population back to it."