Supplement Feature - February 2021
Find a printable version here

Just Keep Swimming

The 2021 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping


Outfitting Aquatics

Over the past couple of decades, aquatic facilities have evolved rapidly beyond the rectangular pools of the past to include a wide variety of features that bring fun and fitness to the water, expanding all the ways people use aquatic facilities to keep them coming back for more.

Here are some of the more common features found among aquatic respondents' facilities:

  • Lifeguard Stand: 78.2%
  • Lane Lines: 77.7%
  • Pool Lift or Other Accessibility Equipment: 63.6%
  • Pool Exercise Equipment: 54.1%
  • Diving Boards: 48.3%
  • Starting Platforms: 46.3%
  • Pool Slides: 36.7%
  • Shade Structures: 34.3%
  • Zero-Depth Entry: 34.2%
  • Water Basketball Equipment: 33.9%
  • Scoreboard: 28%
  • Water Playground: 16.7%
  • Pool Inflatables: 18.4%
  • Water Polo Equipment: 20.8%
  • Water Volleyball Equipment: 15.3%
  • Teaching Platform: 15.3%
  • Lazy River: 13.8%
  • Diving Platforms: 13.2%
  • Swim Platform 9.2%
  • Poolside Cabanas: 9.5%
  • Swim Wall or Pool Bulkhead: 11.3%
  • Poolside Climbing Wall: 8.1%
  • Lily Pads/Water Walk: 6.7%
  • Underwater Treadmill or Bike: 4.3%
  • Wave Pool: 2.7%
  • River Raft Ride: 1.7%
  • Surf Machine: 1.1%
  • Water Coaster: 0.5%

The features that saw the greatest increase from 2019 to 2020, in terms of the number of respondents who include them in their facilities, include: water basketball equipment (up 3.5 percentage points); scoreboards (up 3); pool exercise equipment (up 2.6); swim walls or pool bulkheads (up 2.5), and water polo equipment (up 1.2).

Respondents from parks were the most likely to include many of these types of features at their facilities. Interestingly, most of the equipment related to aquatic recreation was most likely to be found at facilities operated by parks, while fitness and competitive equipment was more dominant at other types of facilities.

Parks were more likely than others to include: pool slides, water coasters, river raft rides, poolside climbing walls, lily pads and water walks, wave pools, water playgrounds, zero-depth entry, lazy rivers, shade structures, surf machines, and lifeguard stands.

Respondents from schools were more likely than others to include: diving boards, starting platforms, lane lines, water basketball equipment, scoreboards, and swim platforms.

College respondents were more likely than others to include diving platforms, water polo equipment and swim walls or bulkheads.

Respondents from Ys were more likely to include pool exercise equipment, underwater treadmills or bikes, and pool lifts or accessibility equipment.

Respondents from camps were more likely than others to use pool inflatables and water volleyball equipment; and rec center respondents were more likely to have teaching platforms and poolside cabanas.

Not surprisingly, considering the challenges that pandemic-related shutdowns will place on facilities, the number of respondents with plans to add features at their facilities fell in 2020 to 26.3%, down from 32% in 2019. Respondents from rec centers and Ys were the most likely to have such plans. Some 38.5% of rec center respondents and 30.3% of Y respondents said they planned to add features at their facilities. Respondents from colleges and schools were the least likely to be planning to add features to their facilities, though 20.4% and 21.9%, respectively, said they were planning to do so. (See Figure 18.)