Supplement Feature - February 2009
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In the Flow

Aquatic Design Trends

By Richard Zowie

Thinking Outside the Rectangular Box

When it comes to swimming pools, some might feel stuck. Sure, they'd love to upgrade to a new, high-tech aquatic center with lots of great amenities. But in today's economy, there's only so much you can do with the budget you've been given. What do you do when you have to make do with what you have?

The simple answer is, to borrow a Haitian expression, "Degaje!" Translated roughly as "get by" or "make do," it carries the idea of doing the best with what you have available.

Yarger suggests assessing the rectangular pool and asking these questions: How old is the pool? What kind of condition is the concrete shell in? How soon will it need new plumbing? What are the gutters like? Are the existing pool conditions up to code or do they need renovating?

Once these questions are answered, you can then begin to determine whether it would be cheaper and, eventually, more profitable to keep the pool as it is or to bust it out and add components. Can a slide be put into the pool? Can the steps on the shallow end be changed to zero entry?

Mendioroz suggests that people consider incorporating swim lessons into their rectangular pools. Besides adding waterslides and playgrounds, swim lessons can be an effective way to increase traffic to a pool. He points out that swim lessons can be a very lucrative business, and one client in San Jose, Calif., who's in his 70s but is very healthy makes a good living teaching swimming.

"If all you can afford is a linear pool, then concentrate on swim lessons," Mendioroz said. "It's really the only revenue you can generate. Others don't really pay out."

While some may see rectangular pools as a relic that needs to be phased out, Stefanc feels they can still be of use. They can be used for lap swimming or for therapeutic, exercise, educational and competitive purposes.

"[The rectangular pools], though considered relics to some, still remain a very important component of aquatic centers," he said. "They should not be overlooked."

While budget or space might be limited, Stefanc knows that a community's needs and wants will have to be carefully evaluated. But they might be surprised by what they can do with what's available.

"Many of our facilities have successfully integrated combined lap and leisure components into one pool not much larger than a traditional eight-lane, 25-yard lap pool," he said.