Supplement Feature - January 2022
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Calmer Waters

The 2022 Aquatic Trends Report

By Emily Tipping


Considering the less common, more complex facilities, 18.2% of respondents said they included an aquatic park among their facilities (up from 16.9%), while 10.2% had a waterpark (no change). (For the purposes of the survey, aquatic parks are defined as being primarily focused on swimming pools and aquatic activities, while waterparks are more focused on rides and waterslides.)

Respondents from campgrounds and parks were the most likely to report that they had at least one outdoor pool. Some 82.1% of camp respondents and 75.1% of park respondents had outdoor pools. Outdoor pools were most likely to be found where respondents' operating costs for 2020 were less than $250,000. Some 58.4% of those with outdoor pools said they spent less than $250,000 in operating costs in 2020. In fact, 34.8% had annual costs of less than $100,000.

Indoor pools were most common for respondents at colleges and schools. Some 94% of college respondents and 90.9% of school respondents said they had at least one indoor pool. More than half (56.3%) of respondents with at least one indoor pool said their annual operating costs were less than $250,000, though in contrast with outdoor pools, just 24.6% had annual costs of less than $100,000.

Park respondents were the most likely to include splash play areas. Some 63.3% of park respondents said they had at least one splash play area (up from 59.6% in 2020). They were followed by Ys, where 36.5% of respondents had a splash play area. Just over half (51%) of those with at least one splash play area said their annual costs in 2020 were less than $250,000.

Respondents from Ys and community centers were the most likely to have at least one hot tub, spa or whirlpool. Some 42.9% of Y respondents and 40.9% of community center respondents said they had hot tubs. More than half (53.9%) of those with hot tubs said their annual operating costs for 2020 were less than $250,000.

Aquatic parks were more commonly cited as a facility type for park respondents than any of the other facility types covered here. Some 30.8% of parks said they had an aquatic park. In contrast to the other types of facilities, the largest number of respondents who had at least one aquatic park (42.7%) said their annual operating costs for 2020 were $500,000 or more.

Finally, waterparks were not dominant among any facility type covered here. More than half (52%) of those with at least one waterpark said their annual operating expenditure in 2020 came to at least $500,000.

More than six in 10 respondents (60.8%) said their aquatic facilities are open year-round, while 39.2% said they operate seasonal aquatic facilities. (See Figure 5.)

Respondents from schools, colleges and Ys were the most likely to indicate that their aquatic facilities are open year-round. More than nine out of 10 school respondents (95.5%), college respondents (93.8%) and Y respondents (92.1%) said their aquatic facilities operate year-round. Respondents from camps were the most likely to have seasonal operations; only 7.7% of camp respondents said their aquatic facilities are open year-round. (See Figure 6.)

It should come as no surprise that those with indoor pools only were far more likely to operate year-round than those who only have outdoor facilities. Among those who only operate indoor pools, 94.9% said those facilities operate year-round. This compares with 20.2% of those with outdoor-only facilities.

Among those respondents whose aquatic facilities operate seasonally, May was the most common month for the start of the aquatic season, while most facilities were likely to end their seasons in September. Some 56.1% of those with seasonal operations begins in May, and 31.3% said they open for the season in June. As summer comes to an end, 30.3% of seasonal aquatic operations close down in August, while more than half (53.5%) shut down in September.