Supplement Feature - February 2015
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A Pool for Every Purpose

Multi-Use Pools Provide Space for Competition, Leisure

By Joe Bush


"On a basic budget you'd order the 4-inch lane lines," she said. "That will cost less than a 6-inch lane line, but you're still going to get a great lane line. You'd order a less expensive timing system, a less expensive starting block."

Omli said the good news for operators with a multi-use pool is that lane lines can also be used to cordon off areas for different uses. They are supposed to be removed from the pool, for maintenance and to extend their lives, and they range in price from $1,000 to $3,500.

Clocks are a less expensive alternative to scoreboard timers, Omli added; choose them for durability, mobility and most importantly, visibility and legibility.

Karen Andrus-Hughes is marketing manager for a Canby, Ore.-based manufacturer of starting blocks, slides, game equipment, lifeguard chairs, lighting, lane lines, diving boards, and handrails and lifts for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She said her company's starting blocks range in expense from those with an anchor inside the pool deck and those bolted to the deck. If starting blocks are permanent, Andrus-Hughes said be sure to have cones to place on top of them to discourage diving by non-swimmers.

"Community pools don't need to go to the expense of a more elite block and they may want blocks that aren't as high, a block that is more conducive to novice or new swimmers, community-type swim meets," said Andrus-Hughes.

She said multipurpose pools are more likely to want removable anchors on any deck-mounted equipment. If so, they'll need deck caps that cover the hole flush with the deck for the safety of those walking by. Her company's slides are not removable, she said, so care must be taken to place non-removable slides strategically, away from the starting blocks, for example.

Andrus-Hughes said competitive-only pools are in a tough spot.

"They may not be money makers, they may be supported by the tax base, but not a business running in the black," she said. "It'd be pretty tough to be sustained just by public swimming or by competitive swimming. Pools that are doing the best have figured out a way to be multipurpose and used 12 hours a day."

Caron of ADG said trending demographics and surveys of college students bolster the five-year outlook of the high popularity of college and community rec centers with multipurpose pools.

"What it really means and I think is applicable to the public sector as well, is that the things you want, deep water, rectilinear shapes, hard lines, cool water don't really mix well with your open, revenue-producing activities," Caron said. "Those programs want shallow water, want warmer water and they want the curvilinear spaces so that they have better sight with their instructors.

"That's not to say you can't do it and do it well, but there is a juxtaposition of those two ideas, and having them cohabitate is an issue that hasn't been 100 percent solved."