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

By Emily Tipping

Aquatics and Finances

While operating budgets among facilities of all types are still struggling to reach pre-recession levels, aquatic facilities, after seeing a drop in fiscal 2010, are expected to recover this year. In fiscal 2010, aquatic respondents report they saw a drop of 2.3 percent from the average operating budget level reported for fiscal 2009 by last year's survey respondents, from $432,000 in fiscal 2009 to $422,000 in fiscal 2010. However, respondents projected that aquatic operating expenditures would rise by 5.5 percent from 2010 to 2011, and by another 4.5 percent from 2011 to 2012. (See Figure 37.)

Respondents from parks tended to be among those with the highest average operating expenditures for aquatics. This could be because parks respondents were also more likely to be operating multiple facilities. Their average expenditure for fiscal 2010, for example, was $508,000, 20.4 percent higher than the average for all aquatic respondents.

Around a third of respondents with aquatic facilities reported that their revenues had increased from 2009 to 2010. Similar numbers project increases in 2011 and 2012, as well. From 2009 to 2010, 32 percent of respondents said their revenues had grown, while 33.1 percent are expecting to see an increase in 2011, and 32.6 percent expect an increase in 2012. More than half said their revenues would be steady over this same period, with 53.3 percent reporting their revenues for 2010 were the same as 2009, 56.6 percent expecting revenues to hold steady in 2011, and 59.2 percent expecting the same in 2012.

The number of respondents with aquatic facilities who are seeing revenues fall is declining steadily. In last year's survey, 21.1 percent in saw revenues drop from 2008 to 2009, and 14.7 percent this year saw a drop in revenues from 2009 to 2010. Just 10.2 percent expect to see a decrease in 2011, and 8.2 percent projected a decrease in 2012.

On Guard!

The majority of respondents with aquatic facilities indicated that they have a lifeguard on duty during all hours of operation. Some 84.8 percent said they currently have lifeguards working during operating hours.

Respondents from YMCAs were most likely to have lifeguards on staff. Almost every YMCA respondents with aquatics (99 percent) said they have a lifeguard working when the pool is open. They were followed by parks (92.5 percent) and colleges (90.6 percent).

Respondents from health clubs were least likely to have a lifeguard working during all hours of operation, and, just 41.2 percent of aquatic respondents at health clubs said they have a lifeguard working the whole time the pool is open.