Feature Article - July 2017
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Need Fun? Just Add Water!

Outfitting Your Pool

By Dave Ramont

There are more ways than ever for people to spend their precious entertainment dollars these days. Therefore, businesses are always looking for that extra little lure to get people through their door, to sweeten the pot. And aquatic facilities are no different.

Karen Andrus-Hughes, marketing manager for a Canby, Ore.-based manufacturer of pool equipment, has noticed in recent years an increasing move by aquatic directors and facility managers to add new pool deck equipment and programming that will attract more users to their pools. "Whether it's Aquatic Zumba, an in-the-pool Easter egg hunt, a big ride pool slide or pool game, adding extra swimming pool fun is essential to getting people to the pool and keeping them coming back. A pool of water only is no longer enough."

There are many choices for facilities when it comes to adding a little pizzazz, from large climbing walls to a simple volleyball net. Andrus-Hughes points out that careful product selection is vital in getting the most out of available pool space. "For example, consider selecting a pool basketball game that can be placed in the same deck anchor as a starting block. Making this work means considering water depth at the installation point, as well as the game's and starting block's setback from the edge of the pool. A little planning ahead of time can help make the most of your pool space."

Of course, these pool amenities need to be able to withstand high-humidity environments, heavy doses of UV rays and exposure to pool chemicals. Another consideration is the product's deck space requirements, if any. And the pool's configuration and layout may dictate what type of anchoring system is required for certain products.

Let's start with the aforementioned basketball games, an inexpensive yet popular water activity. Some bases can be mounted, while others simply fill with sand or water. Some feature winged backboards, which deflect the ball back in to the pool, and many are height-adjustable.

Water volleyball is also popular, with some systems using the same anchoring system as basketball. Custom length nets are available. Underwater hockey has also become popular, with some facilities offering league play. Other economical games include water badminton, underwater ring toss and various diving games.

Waterslides are always a hit, and provide a waterpark feel to pool facilities. There are full-tube or half-tube models, with open or closed flumes. Some have ladders or spiral staircases. High-volume water delivery systems are available, discharging up to 30 gallons of water per minute. Some slides are designed for younger kids, incorporating safety features such as molded handrails and enclosed ladders.

Many facilities are seeking extra revenue from water therapy or water fitness classes. Stationary aqua exercise bikes and aqua treadmills are perfect for fitness or rehab. Aqua fitness belts, barbells, and exercise balls are available, as are water exercise steps for water aerobics. Deck-side public address systems are great for aqua aerobics classes, with inputs for microphones, iPods, and other MP3 players.

Myron Clifton, director of marketing and sales operations for a Concord, Calif.-based national distributor of aquatic supplies, said, "With summer here, we are very excited about several products, including advanced pool cleaners and vacuums that keep your pool clean for minimal costs."

Indeed, automatic vacuums and robotic pool cleaners, which are self-propelled and self-contained, save on labor costs. They can operate by remote control, and utilize various cleaning programs. Some have brushes for scrubbing, and feature wall-climbing capabilities. Old-school leaf rakes, nets and skimmers are still popular, too.

Need a Lift?

Another trend Clifton mentioned are the advancements in pool lifts. "Many ADA-approved aquatic lifts now have heavier lifting capacity, or have intelligent control battery for easier accessibility, and some have covers, caddies and armrest options," he said. Since the Access Board, which is responsible for developing and updating the design guidelines for the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), revised standards in 2010, most public pools are now required to have at least one primary means of entry, either a pool lift or sloped entry. Pools with more than 300 linear feet of pool wall require an additional form of access as well, which could be a lift, ramp, stairs or a transfer wall or system. Only the one type of accessible entry is required if a pool has less than 300 linear feet.