Feature Article - June 2019
Find a printable version here


A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

Looking forward, respondents from rec centers, Ys and parks were the most likely to be expecting further increases to aquatic revenues. Among aquatic respondents, from 2018 to 2019, 39.6 percent of rec centers, 37.7 percent of Ys and 36.3 percent of parks said they are expecting aquatic revenues to increase.

The percentage of aquatic respondents who report that their aquatic revenues support aquatic operations remained virtually unchanged from 2018 to 2019. More than one-fifth (21.7 percent) of aquatic respondents said their aquatic facilities generate the revenue to support operations (compared with 21.5 percent in 2018), while 69.3 percent said their aquatic facilities are subsidized via funding from other sources. (See Figure 38.)

Respondents from health clubs were the most likely to report that they earn their aquatic operating costs back via aquatic revenues. Some 36 percent of health club respondents with aquatics said they cover their aquatic operating costs with revenues. They were followed by parks (23.9 percent of whom cover aquatic operating costs with revenues) and Ys (23.2 percent).

Respondents from camps and colleges were the most likely to subsidize the aquatic operations with funding from other sources. Some 78 percent of camp respondents and 77.6 percent of college respondents with aquatics said they cover some of their aquatic operating expenses with funding from other sources.


The majority of aquatic respondents reported that they currently provide programming at their aquatic facilities, from learn-to-swim programs to aquatic exercise programs. Some 94.6 percent of aquatic respondents said that they offer aquatic programming at their facilities. This includes 100 percent of aquatic respondents from schools and Ys. Nearly all—99 percent—college aquatic respondents also provide programming. They were followed by those from rec centers (96.4 percent), health clubs (95.8 percent), parks (93.8 percent) and camps (88.1 percent.)

The top 10 aquatic programs currently found at aquatic facilities include:

  1. Leisure swim (currently found at 85.7 percent of aquatic facilities)
  2. Learn-to-swim for children (80 percent)
  3. Lifeguard training (74.2 percent)
  4. Lap swim (73.9 percent)
  5. Aquatic exercise programs (64.5 percent)
  6. Learn-to-swim for adults (58.8 percent)
  7. Water safety programs (55.2 percent)
  8. Youth swim teams (54.5 percent)
  9. Swim meets and competitions (49.5 percent)
  10. Special needs aquatic programs (33.6 percent)

No programs saw an increase in the number of respondents providing them from 2018 to 2019.

Aquatic respondents from Ys are more likely than others to provide: leisure swim; learn-to-swim for children; lifeguard training; lap swim; aquatic exercise programs; learn-to-swim for adults; water safety programs; youth swim teams; and special needs aquatic programs.

Aquatic respondents from schools and school districts were more likely than others to provide swim meets and competitions, school/collegiate swim teams, and diving or diving teams.

Aquatic respondents from colleges were more likely than others to provide water polo. Those from rec centers were the most likely to offer adult swim teams. And finally, aquatic respondents from health clubs were the most likely to offer aqua-therapy programs.

The percentage of aquatic respondents who report that they are planning to add additional aquatic programs at their facilities over the next few years remained virtually unchanged in 2019. Some 19.8 percent said they had such plans, compared with 19.6 percent in 2018.