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

Outfitting Your Pool

By Dave Ramont

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.

There are three main types of pool lifts to choose from. If having a deck obstruction is not a problem, then a permanent lift is a great choice, and typically the least expensive. They're attached to an anchor underneath the deck.

Removable lifts are installed into a sleeve in the pool deck and can be removed as needed. If sleeves are installed at different points, you can use the same lift in multiple locations. The sleeve is covered by a protective cap when the lift is removed.

These two types of lifts can be battery- or water-powered. Lifts that are water-powered are connected to a water supply, typically a hose across the deck or conduit installed under the deck.

Portable pool lifts are the third and most flexible option, but usually the most expensive. These rechargeable battery-powered lifts are on wheels, and utilize brakes and weights to stay in place while in use.

There are many add-ons for pool lifts, such as activation keys to prevent unauthorized use. Other options include wireless remotes, different seat types, seat belts, adjustable head rests, and moving foot and arm rests. Depending on a pool's construction, some lifts feature longer reaches to water lines or can rotate. Some can service in-ground pools and above-ground spas, or serve two adjoining pools from the same install location.

Aqua wheelchairs are great for pools with ramps, zero-depth entry or movable floors. They're also useful in showers and spas, and can feature retractable foot rests, swinging side-arms, seatbelts, shoulder harnesses and anti-tip features. There are also ADA-compliant ladders, which might have wider stairs, shielded treads or extended handrails. They may be forward-walking, or have netting under the stairs and sides to prevent entrapment. Some have wheels or are designed for easy, frequent removal.

Kittrell Pool in White Plains, N.Y., was built in 1970, and over the years it's seen heavy use from camp groups and residents alike. So, in 2015, it underwent a renovation, combining the old tot pool and main pool into one bigger pool. New additions included a new deck surface, lap lanes, lifeguard chairs, deck furniture, lockers and locker room amenities. But they also made the pool and building far more accessible, adding zero-depth entry and ADA-compliant walkways, entrances and exits, bathrooms, showers and changing rooms. In addition, they purchased an aquatic wheelchair and pool lift.

Fran Croughan is a manager at Kittrell, and said the rejuvenated pool was an instant success. "It's been elevated to another level—it's an overall nicer facility. The amount of usage doubled in the first season."

As far as the pool lift, Croughan said there are a few regular users, plus one woman who regularly utilizes the aqua wheelchair. "She transfers into the wheelchair, rolls right into the pool and starts swimming. If we helped one person, it was all worth it."

Ready to Compete?

There are many competitive products available, with technology driving new innovations all the time.

"We're excited about the latest lane lines and storage reels, and new and bigger pace clocks," Clifton said.

Lane lines seem simple enough, but over the years manufacturers have worked to tweak them so as to provide a product that doesn't, well, make waves, since tranquil water is imperative during races. Corrie Lloyd is the new business development manager at a Constantine, Mich.-based manufacturer of competitive pool products. She explained how they were innovators when it came to including a material in their production phase for the discs and floats that not only extends the life of the lane for use, but also protects the lanes from UV damage, which can cause discoloration and the plastics to crack and break. Indeed, their lane lines have been used in several Olympics and many other national and international competitions.

"We offer 17 colors, and for larger orders are capable of matching custom colors to allow a cosmetic balance for facilities." She added that they offer a tensioning device that does not require any tools, allowing for quick installation of the lanes with a simple turn of the wrist.

Lane line storage reels and caddies allow for quick and easy installation and removal of lane lines, and assist in keeping the lines neat and preventing tangling. Depending on the lane line diameter, some can hold nearly 1,000 feet.

Starting platforms are another important product when it comes to racing and fractions of seconds. There are many varieties, compatible with different types of timing systems. Different styles of pedestals are available, depending on pool configurations. For instance, extra elevation may be required for pools with overflow gutter designs. There are various types of tread, with some companies offering custom colors or team logos. Some have hand grips or wedges for "track" style starts. Some start systems contain speakers and also strobes for hearing-impaired athletes.