Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Aquatic Facilities

A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities


Outdoor swimming pools were most commonly found among aquatic facilities in the South Central and Western regions. Some 78% of South Central respondents and 76.1% of Western respondents said they currently have outdoor pools. Aquatic respondents from the Northeast were the least likely to include outdoor pools, though a majority (61.2%) said they have at least one outdoor pool.

Indoor swimming pools were most commonly found in the Northeast and South Central regions, with 66.4% of Northeastern respondents and 64.5% of South Central respondents reporting that they include indoor pools. Indoor pools were least common in the South Atlantic region, though 53.6% of aquatic respondents there said they have at least one indoor pool.

Splash play areas were most commonly found in the South Central and South Atlantic regions. Some 75.7% of South Central region respondents and 61.4% of South Atlantic respondents said they include splash play among their facilities. Splash play continued to be least common in the Northeast, though the percentage of aquatic respondents there with splash play areas grew from 39.5% in 2019 to 47.4% in 2020.

Waterparks were most common among facilities in the Midwest and in the South Central region. Some 33.1% of respondents in the Midwest and 24.2% in the South Central region said they currently include waterparks. They were least common in 2020 in the South Atlantic region, where 9.5% said they currently have waterparks.

Hot tubs, spas and whirlpools were most common among respondents from the West; some 46.3% of Western aquatic respondents said they currently include hot tubs. They were followed by the South Atlantic, where 38.7% feature hot tubs. The South Central region was least likely to be home to hot tubs, with 27.7% of aquatic respondents there indicating that they have at least one.

Some types of aquatic operations are more likely to be found in some industry segments vs. others. For example, splash play areas are more typically found among park operations than in health clubs, while hot tubs are far more common in health clubs than at camps.

Outdoor swimming pools were most commonly found at camp respondents' facilities. Some 93.9% of aquatic respondents from camps said they have at least one outdoor pool. They were followed by parks (80.5%) and recreation centers (68.4%).

Indoor swimming pools were most common at health clubs, where 100% of aquatic respondents said they currently have at least one indoor pool. They were followed by colleges and universities (96.8%) and Ys (91.4%).

Aquatic respondents from parks were the most likely to report that they currently have at least one splash play area. Some 70.8% of aquatic respondents from parks said they have a splash play area. They were followed by Ys (49.1% of which have splash play) and rec centers (48.5%).

Waterparks are much less common for most facility types, but some 28.4% of aquatic respondents from parks said they currently include a waterpark, and 28% of those from Ys said they have a waterpark.

Hot tubs, spas and whirlpools were most commonly found in the facilities of aquatic respondents from health clubs. In fact, 100% of health club respondents with aquatic elements at their facilities said they have a hot tub. They were followed by respondents from Ys (76.7%).

As usual, the vast majority of aquatic facilities covered in the report are used either for leisure and recreation, or for a combination of recreational and competitive activities. Just 0.7% of aquatic respondents said their pools are used for competition only. More than half (55.5%) said their aquatic facilities host both recreational and competitive activities, and 44.8% said their pools are used only for recreation. (See Figure 36.)

As is usually the case, pools used only for leisure and recreation are most commonly found among camp facilities. Some 94.6% of camp respondents with aquatics said their pools are used only for recreation. They were followed by health clubs (73.3%) and colleges (48.5%).

Combined-used pools that offer both recreational and competitive programming are most commonly found among schools, where 75% of aquatic respondents said their pools are used for both purposes. They were followed by Ys (71.8%) and rec centers (59.5%).

Competition-only pools are rare. In 2020, just 7.1% of aquatic respondents from schools and 1.5% of those from colleges, plus a single park respondent said their pools are used for competition only.