Supplement Feature - February 2021
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Just Keep Swimming

The 2021 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping

The 10 most commonly planned additions at aquatic facilities include:

  • Shade structures (planned by 28.2% of those who will be making additions, down slightly from 28.9%)
  • Poolside climbing walls (21.2%, down from 21.5%)
  • Pool inflatables (21.2%, up from 20.2%)
  • Pool slides (15.3%, down from 18.9%)
  • Pool lifts and accessibility equipment (14.7%, up from 12.3%)
  • Water playgrounds (14.1%, down from 15.9%)
  • Zero-depth entry (13.5%, up from 13.2%)
  • Pool exercise equipment (12.9%, down from 18.4%)
  • Underwater treadmills or bikes (12.4%, up from 12.3%)
  • Poolside cabanas (11.8%, down from 14.9%)

In addition to being among those most likely to be planning any additional features at their aquatic facilities, respondents from Ys were the most likely to be planning to add more different kinds of features than any other respondent cohort, other than camps. Respondents from Ys were the most likely to be planning to add: pool slides, pool inflatables, lane lines, underwater treadmills or bikes, zero-depth entry, lazy rivers, water polo equipment, and swim platforms.

While camps were less likely to be planning additional features, they were still the most likely to be planning to add: starting platforms, wave pools, water playgrounds, pool lifts and accessibility equipment, shade structures, water basketball equipment, water volleyball equipment, and swim walls or pool bulkheads.

Respondents from parks were the most likely to be planning to add: water coasters, pool exercise equipment, teaching platforms, poolside cabanas, and surf machines.

Rec center respondents were the most likely to be planning to add poolside climbing walls, diving boards and scoreboards. College respondents were the most likely to be planning to add diving platforms, while those from schools were the most likely to be planning to add lifeguard stands.


Not every aquatic facility needs to offer programming to entice swimmers to the water (splash pads and waterparks, for example). However, offering programs like learn-to-swim and aquatic exercise offers a way to boost revenues and outreach. A majority—95.9%—of respondents to the survey said they do currently provide some type of programming at their facilities. This is virtually unchanged from 2019, when 95.8% provided programming. In fact, 100% of respondents from Ys and recreation centers said they currently provide programming. They were followed by college respondents, 99% of whom currently provide programming. Camp respondents were least likely to do so, though a majority—88.2%—of these respondents said they currently do provide programming at their aquatic facilities. (See Figure 19.)

The following are the types of programs covered in the survey and their prevalence among respondents' offerings:

  • Learn-to-Swim Programs (79.1%)
  • Lifeguard Training (76.1%)
  • Leisure Swim Time (73.3%)
  • Lap Swim Time (73.3%)
  • Birthday Parties (58.5%)
  • Aquatic Aerobics (65.2%)
  • Water Safety Training (56.3%)
  • Youth Swim Teams (57.2%)
  • Swim Meets & Other Competitions (49%)
  • Aquatic Programs for Those With Physical Disabilities (34.6%)
  • School Swim Teams (33.3%)
  • Aquatic Programs for Those With Developmental Disabilities (28%)
  • Water Walking (29.1%)
  • Dive-In Movies (24.3%)
  • Aquatic Therapy (24%)
  • Adult Swim Teams (20.2%)
  • Aqua-Yoga & Other Balance Programs (22.1%)
  • Diving Programs & Teams (17.5%)
  • Water Polo (15.8%)
  • Doggie Dips (12%)
  • Collegiate Swim Teams (11.7%)