Feature Article - June 2014
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A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities


What's the "funnest" sport? Swimming, of course. That's according to a new SwimToday campaign led by 10 industry partners and five-time Olympian Dara Torres. This campaign showcases the many benefits of swimming, hoping to bring more kids into the sport.

Why launch such a campaign? A recent report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association reveals that 80 percent of parents overlook swimming when choosing organized sports activities for their children after they learn to swim. Many parents report that they lack access to a nearby pool, though research shows that 82 percent of households in the United States have a pool within 12 minutes of their residence.

SwimToday aims to dispel the myths and misconceptions, all while moving more people into the sport of swimming.

No matter how fun you think the sport of swimming is, there's no doubt that aquatic facilities across the country have adapted to many expectations and have aimed to boost the fun at their facilities over the past couple of decades. Long gone are the days of the boring rectangular pool. Many of those old-time facilities have been replaced by pools featuring all kinds of amenities that aim to get more people into the water and enjoying themselves.

In this section, we'll take a look at how some of these trends continue to play out, by focusing on the data provided by respondents whose facilities include aquatic elements, whether indoor or outdoor pools, waterparks, splash play areas or hot tubs.

More than half of all respondents (52.1 percent) to the 2014 Industry Report survey reported that their facilities include aquatic elements of some kind. (See Figure 34.) This represents a slight decrease from 2013, when 53.9 percent of respondents included aquatics.

Aquatic Facilities

There was little change in the types of aquatic facilities represented in the survey from 2013 to 2014. There was a slight increase in the percentage of respondents who reported that their facilities include splash play areas (49.8 percent in 2014 vs. 48.8 percent in 2013) and hot tubs, spas and whirlpools (42.7 percent vs. 42.1 percent in 2013). Slightly fewer respondents in 2014 had indoor swimming pools (65.7 percent vs. 68.6 percent in 2013), outdoor swimming pools (72.1 percent vs. 72.7 percent in 2013), and waterparks (23.1 percent vs. 23.6 percent in 2013). (See Figure 35.)

Indoor swimming pools were most commonly found in the Midwest, with 61.5 percent of Midwestern aquatic respondents indicating they included indoor pools among their facilities. They were followed by the Northeast (57 percent) and South Central region (50 percent). Respondents in the West and South Atlantic were less likely to include indoor swimming pools, though 45.1 percent of Western respondents and 45.9 percent of South Atlantic respondents included them.

On the other hand, outdoor swimming pools were most common in the South Central region, the West and the South Atlantic states. In these regions, 66.7 percent, 65.5 percent and 65.2 percent of respective respondents included outdoor pools. They were less common in the Northeast and Midwest, where 50.3 percent and 48.2 percent, respectively, included outdoor pools.