Supplement Feature - February 2021
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Just Keep Swimming

The 2021 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping


Safe in the Water

As mentioned, more than half (56.3%) of respondents provide water safety training as part of their programming lineup, but this isn't the only way these facilities address safety and work to prevent drownings.

A majority of respondents—90.6%—said a lifeguard is on duty at least some of the time during their operating hours. Some 82.8% said a lifeguard is on duty at all times the facility is open (down slightly from 84.1% in 2020), and 7.8% said a lifeguard is on duty during at least some hours of operation (up from 6.5%). Just 9.4% said there is never a lifeguard on duty at their facilities, representing no change from last year's report. (See Figure 24.)

As was the case in last year's survey, 100% of the respondents from Ys said that a lifeguard is on duty at least some of the time. But in a change, this year 100% of Y respondents said a lifeguard is on duty at all times, whereas last year, that number was 98.8%, with 1.2% indicating a lifeguard was on duty only sometimes.

Colleges and schools were the next most likely to have a lifeguard on duty, with 96.9% of each cohort indicating that a lifeguard is on duty at least some of the time. They were followed by park respondents, 95.5% of whom said a lifeguard is on duty at least some of the time.

Camps were the least like to indicate that a lifeguard is on duty during their hours of operation, though more than three-quarters (78.8%) said they have lifeguards. They were followed by rec centers, 87.2% of whom said a lifeguard is on duty at least some of the time during their hours of operation.

Lifeguards are aquatic facilities' most important tool to prevent drownings at their facilities, but they are not the only tool in that kit. When it comes to drowning prevention, here are the methods most often used by respondents:

  • Lifeguard on Duty (90.6%, no change from 2020)
  • Life Preservers Required for Less-Skilled Swimmers (51.6%, down from 56.9%)
  • Video or Other In-Pool
  • System for Detecting Swimmers
  • in Trouble (5.4%, down slightly from 5.5%)
  • Safety Device That Sounds an Alarm When Submerged (4%, down from 4.8%)
  • Other (5%)
  • None (7%, up from 5.7%)