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

Outfitting Your Pool

By Dave Ramont

New technologies have driven advances in wireless starting systems, touchpads, timing consoles, judging terminals and scoreboards—with different components having the capability to communicate with each other as well. Scoreboards come in many sizes and styles, and can be re-configured by changing modules, therefore covering swimming, diving, water polo or synchronized swimming.

Full-color LED video displays are capable of showing animations, live action and instant replays, and advertising. Other competitive products include backstroke and finish line flags, pace clocks—which can be electric or battery-powered—and water polo supplies.

Lloyd pointed out that water polo has been growing for the past 10 years in all areas from clubs to high school and collegiate levels. Necessary supplies include goals—choose from floating or deck-mounted wall goals—and balls, which come in different sizes for men, women or juniors. There are field lane lines, shot clocks and water polo startup baskets for providing efficient and accurate starts to games. Tubes are available for inner tube water polo games.

Over the last two years what we've seen in the industry is the popularity of facilities for early introduction to swimming for children.

Pools across the U.S. are adding competitive programs to drive attendance, but budget restrictions make this a slow process for many facilities, according to Lloyd. "We have pools trying to build programs but are only able to get one piece of equipment every two years or so, so this makes growing a program difficult—especially a new program. Over the last two years what we've seen in the industry is the popularity of facilities for early introduction to swimming for children."

There are many products geared toward instruction. Adjustable-height teaching platforms reduce water depths, offering a secure, elevated surface for student swimmers to stand in the water while learning. Some are modular and can be linked together, sitting on pool-bottom risers that fill with sand, and most have railings.

Swim walls maximize swim lane flexibility and usage, by separating one lane into two. So two swimmers could swim laps in one lane, or lessons could take place during lap swim. Some walls suspend between two racing lane lines. Another type sits on the pool floor when not in use, and when filled with air, it forms a pool wall designed to fit around lane lines.

Underwater speakers allow for talking to swimmers underwater, broadcasting a recall tone during competition, clearing a pool, or providing scuba instruction. Underwater pool mirrors aid in checking stroke techniques, or can be hung vertically from pool ends to provide feedback during flip turns.

Add a Little Fun!

Aquatic climbing walls are hot, and are utilized for both fitness and fun. They are modular, with four-foot panels attaching to a stainless steel frame, allowing you to customize the width and height of the wall. Pool depth determines the height of the wall, and most space and deck configurations can be accommodated.

Another popular item is inflatable obstacle courses or other inflatable-play amenities. These are great ways to increase revenue and attendance, with some facilities offering them at specific times for an added fee, or installing them during pool rentals and parties. These modules can be customized in many sizes and shapes, depending on space. Again, the higher a module is, the deeper the water has to be. They're an easy investment and don't require any construction. Modular and stand-alone varieties are available.

There are various ways of anchoring inflatable play structures, usually requiring bungees. Horizontal anchoring is one method, using mobile or stationary floor loops for swim lanes. Other stationary objects for horizontal anchoring could include starting blocks or ladders. Some pools have pre-installed anchoring points embedded in the floor for vertical anchoring. Floor anchors and anchor sacks can also be utilized. Most inflatables don't require continuous flow, and can be easily inflated or deflated with an electric blower or hand pump.

On Deck

Let's move on to deck amenities, which offer up a plethora of products. And one that has always maintained popularity is the classic diving board. These days, they're mostly made from fiberglass with a solid wood core, or they're aluminum. They come in various lengths, typically from eight to 16 feet. The dive towers and stands are sold separate from the boards, and they come in many styles and heights, with left, right or dual mount options.

Lifeguard chairs also come in a myriad of styles and height options. Some chairs are anchored, and some are portable with rear legs set into anchor sockets and front legs with locking wheels for easy re-location. Some sit on a pedestal. There are lookout towers that sit at varying heights with railings and chairs featuring 360-degree rotation. Some are designed to be close to the pool edge, or are low-profile for quick exits. Observation chairs are also good for supervision, judging and instruction. Many have umbrella holders. Materials include fiberglass, stainless steel and recycled plastic.

There are many types of ladders, hand rails and grab rails in varying shapes and sizes. A wide array of deck furniture is available—chairs, chaise lounges, tables with umbrellas and benches. Some benches double as lockers or storage units. Stash your pool noodles in the many bins, baskets and caddies that are available. There are portable, rolling bleachers. You'll find drinking fountains and fountain/foot shower combos, plus clocks and thermometers, some with protective cages. Keep your patrons informed with weatherproof message display boards, free-standing or fence-attachable. And all these products come in many colors and materials, including recycled plastic.

Pool covers, solar pool covers and insulating blankets save heating costs, reduce water evaporation and chemical loss, and help keep pools cleaner. They can be custom-tailored to fit any size or shape pool, and come with necessary straps, anchors and bearings. Pool cover storage reels use hand cranks or power-driven electric motors for easy installation, removal and storage. Indoor models can be wall-mounted.