Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Aquatic Facilities

A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities


The number of aquatic respondents who report that their aquatic revenues support their aquatic operations fell slightly in 2020. Some 19.8% of aquatic respondents said their aquatic facilities generate the revenues to support their operations, down from 21.7% in 2019. Another 73.8% said their aquatic facilities are subsidized via funding from other sources. (See Figure 38.)

As was the case in 2019, respondents from health clubs were the most likely to report that they earn their aquatic operating costs back via aquatic revenues. Some 26.7% of health club respondents with aquatics said they cover their aquatic operating costs with revenues. They were followed by Ys, where 23.6% said their aquatic costs are covered by revenues.

Respondents from camps were the most likely to indicate that they subsidize their aquatic operations with funding from other sources. Some 86.5% of camp respondents said their aquatic operations are subsidized. They were followed by parks (76.5%) and colleges (75.4%).

Programming

The majority of aquatic respondents reported that they currently provide programming at their aquatic facilities‚ÄĒeverything from swim lessons to lap swimming, lifeguard training and beyond. Some 94.1% of aquatic respondents said they offer aquatic programming. This includes 100% of aquatic respondents from colleges, schools, health clubs and rec centers. Nearly all respondents from Ys (98.6%) said they offer aquatic programming. Slightly fewer parks (92%) and camps (88.9%) said there was aquatic programming at their facilities.

The top 10 most common aquatic programs offered at aquatic facilities in 2020 include:

  1. Leisure swim (85.1% of aquatic facilities host leisure swim)
  2. Learn-to-swim for children (81.9%)
  3. Lap swim (75.9%)
  4. Lifeguard training (74.5%)
  5. Aquatic exercise programs (68.4%)
  6. Learn-to-swim for adults (62.2%)
  7. Youth swim teams (61%)
  8. Water safety programs (58.5%)
  9. Swim meets and competitions (52.3%)
  10. Special needs aquatic programs (34.6%)

Areas that saw growth from 2019 to 2020 include: youth swim teams (up 6.5 points, from 54.5%); aquatic exercise programs (up 3.9 points, from 64.5%); swim meets and competitions (up 2.8 points, from 49.5%); lap swimming (up 2 points, from 73.9%); learn-to-swim for children (up 1.9 points, from 80%); special needs aquatic programs (up 1, from 33.6%); and lifeguard training (up 0.3 points, from 74.2%).

Aquatic respondents from Ys were more likely than others to provide: learn-to-swim for children; learn-to-swim for adults; youth swim teams, lap swimming, water safety programs; and lifeguard training.

Aquatic respondents from schools and school districts were more likely than others to provide: adult swim teams; school or collegiate swim teams; special needs aquatic programs; swim meets and competitions; and diving and diving teams.

Aquatic respondents from health clubs were more likely than others to provide: aquatic exercise programs; leisure swim; and aqua-therapy programs.

Finally, aquatic respondents from colleges were more likely than others to provide water polo programs.

The percentage of aquatic respondents who said they were planning to add additional aquatic programs at their facilities over the next few years was up slightly in 2020. Some 23% of aquatic respondents said they had such plans, up from 19.8% in 2019.

Aquatic respondents from Ys were the most likely to be planning to add aquatic programs at their facilities. More than three in 10 (31.9%) Y respondents said they had such plans. They were followed by rec centers (27.9%) and parks (24.5%). Fewer respondents from schools (17.2%), colleges (16.7%), health clubs (13.3%) and camps (7.9%) said they had plans to add aquatic programs.

The 10 most commonly planned aquatic program additions include:

  1. Special needs aquatic programs (planned by 28.7% of those who will be adding programs)
  2. Learn-to-swim for adults (22.9%)
  3. Aquatic exercise programs (19.7%)
  4. Aqua-therapy programs (19.7%)
  5. Adult swim teams (14%)
  6. Learn-to-swim for children (13.4%)
  7. Water safety programs (13.4%)
  8. Water polo (12.1%)
  9. Lifeguard training (12.1%)
  10. Youth swim teams (10.2%)

In a departure from the norm, aquatic respondents from rec centers were the most likely to be planning to add most types of programs, including: learn-to-swim for children; youth swim teams; aquatic exercise programs; leisure swim; aqua-therapy programs; swim meets and competitions; water safety programs; diving and diving teams; and lifeguard training.

Aquatic respondents from schools were more likely than others to be planning to add learn-to-swim for adults or water polo programs.

Aquatic respondents from Ys were more likely than others to be planning to add adult swim teams and special needs aquatic programs.

Aquatic respondents from health clubs were more likely than others to be planning to add school or collegiate swim teams, while those from camps were the most likely to be planning to add lap swimming.