Supplement Feature - February 2021
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Just Keep Swimming

The 2021 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping


Industry-Wide Challenges

Before we get to the elephant in the room, it's important to note that the impact of COVID-19 is not the only challenge or issue that aquatic managers have to deal with. Keeping equipment up to date and ensuring you have a well-trained staff in place, as well as budget challenges and managing safety also continue to be daily challenges aquatic managers must address.

Respondents in 2020 said the top issues currently facing the aquatics industry include: budgets, staffing and equipment facility maintenance. This represents a slight shift from 2019, when staffing was the No. 1 concern for aquatic facilities.

Some 58.9% in 2020 said budgetary issues were the top challenge for the aquatics industry, up from 56.8% in 2019. Another 52.4% said staffing was a top challenge, down from 60.5%; and 49.1% said equipment and facility maintenance was their top challenge, up from 48.8%. (See Figure 27.)

The area of concern that saw the greatest increase over 2019 in terms of the number of respondents naming it a top challenge, was outreach to minorities and other underrepresented populations. Some 14.8% in 2020 named this a top concern, up 3.2 percentage points from 2019.

Other areas that were of greater concern in 2020 than in 2019 include: regulatory issues (up 1.9 percentage points); resource conservation (up 1.7); new programming ideas (up 1.4); and safety and risk management (up 0.7).

Parks were the most likely to indicate that staffing was a top concern. That said, they were most likely to consider budgetary issues as their top challenge (63.8%). This was followed by staffing (59%) and equipment and facility maintenance (47.6%).

College respondents were the most likely to name budgetary issues as their top challenge. More than seven in 10 (70.1%) college respondents said budgets were their top issue. That's up from 67.1% in 2019. This was followed by equipment and facility maintenance (55.7%) and staffing concerns (43.3%).

For school respondents, budgets were the top concern for 56.7%, followed by equipment and facility maintenance (53.3%) and staffing (50%). School respondents were also the most likely to report that outreach to minorities and underrepresented populations was a top concern for the aquatics industry. Some 23.3% of school respondents named this as a top concern.

For respondents from Ys, 56.1% named budgetary issues as a top industry concern, followed by staffing (51.5%) and equipment and facility maintenance (43.9%).

Camp respondents were the most likely to name equipment and facility maintenance as a top concern. In fact, this group of respondents bucked the trend for the year and named equipment and facility maintenance as their No. 1 concern, with 60.6% choosing this area. It was followed by budgetary issues (42.4%) and safety and risk management (39.4%).

Finally, 61.5% of rec center respondents named budgetary issues as their top concern. This was followed by staffing (41%) and equipment and facility maintenance (38.5%).