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

By Emily Tipping

Aquatic Programming

A substantial majority of respondents whose facilities include aquatics indicated that they currently offer programs of some kind. Some 93.7 percent currently include programming at their facilities. The top programs include:

  1. Leisure swim (89.9 percent)
  2. Learn-to-swim for children (80.8 percent)
  3. Lap swim (76.3 percent)
  4. Lifeguard training (74.9 percent)
  5. Aquatic exercise programs (69.4 percent)
  6. Learn-to-swim for adults (62.6 percent)
  7. Water safety programs (61.7 percent)
  8. Youth swim teams (55.5 percent)
  9. Swim meets and competitions (52.7 percent)
  10. Special needs aquatic programs (37.6 percent)

Swimming lessons for children as well as adults are most common among YMCAs, where 99 percent of respondents with aquatics reported they offer this type of programming. They were followed by health clubs (88.2 percent), community centers (85.2 percent), parks (84.6 percent) and school (80.5 percent).

Also the domain of YMCAs is lifeguard training offered by 90 percent of these respondents, as well as aquatic exercise, offered by 96 percent. They also lead the way in water safety and special needs programs, with 81 percent offering water safety programs, and 67 percent offering special needs programs.

Health clubs were most likely to offer lap swimming. This type of program can be found at 97.1 percent of health clubs with aquatics. Health clubs also were second most likely to include aquatic exercise (after YMCAs), with 91.2 percent of health clubs with aquatic offering it. In addition, 82.4 percent of health clubs offer learn-to-swim programs for adults.

At schools and school districts, 90.2 percent of respondents with aquatics offer swim teams, and 87.8 percent said they have swim meets and competitions. Swim teams were also common at college aquatic facilities, where 71.3 percent said they have swim teams. Diving teams can be found at 56.1 percent of schools with aquatics, and 35.3 percent of colleges. Water polo can be found at 41.4 percent of colleges, and 19.5 percent of schools.

One program that did not appear in the 10 most common programs, aqua-therapy, was notably popular among health club respondents. More than three-quarters (76.5 percent) of those with aquatic programming said they offer aqua-therapy.

Around one-fifth (20.1 percent) of aquatic respondents reported that they have plans to increase aquatic programming over the next three years. Here are the top 10 planned program additions among these respondents:

  1. Special needs aquatic programs (32.7 percent of respondents who plan to add aquatic programming)
  2. Learn-to-swim for adults (23.5 percent)
  3. Aquatic exercise programs (23.5 percent)
  4. Learn-to-swim for children (22.6 percent)
  5. Water safety programs (19.4 percent)
  6. Aqua-therapy (18.9 percent)
  7. Lifeguard training (17.1 percent)
  8. Adult swim teams (16.6 percent)
  9. Youth swim teams (15.2 percent)
  10. Swim meets and competitions (13.4 percent)