Feature Article - June 2011
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A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

By Emily Tipping

Aquatic Facility Types

The most prevalent type of aquatic facilities was outdoor swimming pools. Nearly three-quarters (74.1 percent) of respondents with aquatics reported that they include outdoor swimming pools in the mix. Another 64.5 percent have indoor pools, and 45.6 percent have splash play areas. Hot tubs, spas and whirlpools can be found among 42.6 percent of aquatic respondents, and nearly a quarter (23.3 percent) have waterparks. (See Figure 35.)

Indoor swimming pools were most prominent among YMCAs, colleges, schools and health clubs. The majority of respondents with aquatics from these types of facilities indicated that they had indoor pools: 86 percent of YMCA respondents, 85.6 percent of college respondents, 85.4 percent of schools respondents and 85.3 percent of health club respondents. Respondents from urban areas were more likely to include indoor pools than those from rural areas. Nearly six in 10 (59.9 percent) urban respondents with aquatics had indoor pools, compared with 46.5 percent of those in rural areas. Regionally, indoor pools were more prevalent in colder regions, including the Northeast, where 58.5 percent of respondents with aquatics had indoor pools, and the Midwest (57.6 percent.)

Outdoor pools were most commonly found in camp facilities, where 95 percent of respondents with aquatics had outdoor pools. They were followed by parks: 78.3 percent of parks respondents with aquatics had outdoor pools. Interestingly, 100 percent of respondents from golf/country clubs indicated that they have an outdoor pool. Outdoor pools were more prevalent in suburban areas, where 65.3 percent of respondents with aquatics had outdoor pools, while they were less prevalent in urban communities, where 58.7 percent of respondents had outdoor pools. And, just as indoor pools were more common in the cooler regions, outdoor pools predominate in the warmer regions, led by the West, where 70.2 percent of respondents with aquatics had outdoor pools, the South Central region (69.2 percent) and the South Atlantic (68.8 percent).

Nearly half (48.5 percent) of parks respondents with aquatic facilities indicated that they have splash play areas. A little more than one-third (34.6 percent) of community center respondents with aquatics included splash play areas. This type of facility was far more common in urban areas, where 41.7 percent of aquatic respondents had splash play, than in rural areas, where just 19.1 percent had them. Regionally, the Midwest and West lead this area, with 35 percent of Midwestern aquatic respondents and 34.5 percent of Western aquatic respondents reporting that they have splash play areas. Regionally, they were least common in the Northeast, where a quarter (25.1 percent) of aquatic respondents said they had splash play areas.

Waterparks were most common among aquatic respondents from parks (21.4 percent) and resorts (21.2 percent). Community-wise, they tend to be found more in suburban areas, where 49.1 percent have waterparks, vs. rural areas, where 46.9 percent have them. Regionally, they are most prevalent in the Northeast. More than half (52.6 percent) of Northeastern aquatic respondents reported that they had waterparks. They were followed by the South Atlantic region, where 49.8 percent of aquatic respondents had waterparks. Waterparks were chosen less often by aquatic respondents from the Midwest, though 45 percent of these respondents indicated that their facilities include a waterpark.