Supplement Feature - February 2020
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A Deep Dive Into Aquatic Facility Trends

By Emily Tipping


Water Safety & Drowning Prevention

As mentioned in the previous section, a majority (64.1%, up from 57.2% in 2018) of respondents provide water safety training to their patrons. But there are other ways to address water safety, through lifeguarding programs, as well as specific tools aimed at preventing drowning.

A majority of respondents (84.1%) reported that there is a lifeguard on duty at all times the aquatic facility is open. Another 6.5% said a lifeguard is on duty during some hours of operation. Some 9.4% said there is never a lifeguard on duty at their facilities. (See Figure 25.)

All 100 percent of the respondents from Ys said that a lifeguard is on duty at least some of the time. Some 98.8% of Y respondents said a lifeguard is always on duty, and 1.2% said a lifeguard is sometimes on duty at their facilities.

Colleges were the next most likely to have a lifeguard on duty, with 94.5% indicating there is always a lifeguard and 2.7% indicating there is sometimes a lifeguard on duty. They were followed by parks respondents, where 92% said a lifeguard is always on duty, and 4.3% said a lifeguard is sometimes on duty.

Some 8.8% of respondents from schools and rec centers said they never have a lifeguard. That said, 79.4% of rec centers and 76.5% of schools said a lifeguard is always on duty at their aquatic facilities, and 11.8% of rec centers and 14.7% of schools said a lifeguard is sometimes on duty.

Camp respondents were the least likely to report that they had a lifeguard on duty at their facilities, with nearly one-fifth (19.4%) indicating they never have a lifeguard on duty. Still, nearly three-quarters (74.2%) of camp respondents said a lifeguard is always on duty at their facilities, and 6.5% said a lifeguard is sometimes on duty.

Lifeguards are the first line of defense against drowning, but they are not the only method used to protect swimmers. When it comes to drowning prevention, here are the tools most commonly employed by respondents:

> Lifeguard on Duty: 90.6%, down from 92.1%
> Life Preservers Required for Less-Skilled Swimmers: 56.9%, up from 54.2%
> Video or Other In-Pool System for Detecting Swimmers in Trouble: 5.5%, up from 4.9%
> Safety Device That Sounds an Alarm When Submerged: 4.8%, down from 4.9%
> Other: 5.7%
> None: 5.7%

ADA Awareness & Compliance

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that there were 56.7 million people in the United States with a disability in 2010. That represents 19 percent—nearly one-fifth—of the population. This includes both physical and mental impairments that have an impact on major life activities.

Also in 2010, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards were updated with new requirements for swimming pools. Broadly speaking, the requirements cover commercial swimming pools, including public pools run by municipalities and school districts, as well as private pools, such as those in hotels. The rules require that pools with more than 300 linear feet of wall need to include two means of access, one of which must be a fixed pool lift or sloped entry. Pools with less than 300 linear feet of wall only require a single means of access, but that must be a lift or sloped entry.

Nearly a decade after the new requirements were introduced, awareness and compliance are both relatively high.

The vast majority of respondents (95.8%) said they are aware of the ADA requirements for swimming pools. Another 1.1% said they are not aware of the requirements, and 3.1% were not sure. This represents virtually no change from 2018. (See Figure 26.)