Feature Article - June 2022
Find a printable version here

Trends in Aquatic Facilities

A Look at Trends in Aquatic Facilities

By Emily Tipping


From the high school pool where teens compete to the park district's aquatic complex complete with lazy river, splash play area and poolside lounges, facilities that feature aquatics are fairly common in the recreation, sports and fitness industry. Aquatic facilities require more than careful attention to detail, with their complex systems for disinfecting water and lifeguards and other staff to ensure safety. Aquatic facilities suck up a lot of budget dollars, and require a well-trained crew knowledgeable about everything from the nuances of balancing the pool's water to how to know when a swimmer is in trouble.

In this section of the Industry Report, we take a deep dive into the answers from those survey respondents whose facilities include aquatic elements. This includes any respondent who has at least one indoor or outdoor pool, splash play area, waterpark or hot tub.

Fewer respondents in 2022 included aquatic features in their facilities than in 2021. Some 49.9% of respondents in 2022 said their facilities include aquatics, down from 54.6%. More than half (51.1%) of respondents did not include aquatics. (See Figure 34.)

For the first time, indoor swimming pools were more common than outdoor pools for aquatic respondents to the Industry Report. Some 62.2% of aquatic respondents said they currently have at least one indoor pool, up from 59.2% in 2021. And 60.4% currently have at least one outdoor pool, down from 67.2% in 2021. Splash play areas were found among 42.3% of aquatic respondents' facilities, down from 49.8% in 2021. More than a third (35.7%) of aquatic respondents said they currently have a hot tub, spa or whirlpool, down from 37.2%. And 15.7% of aquatic respondents said they currently have a waterpark down from 17% in 2021. (See Figure 35.)

As you might expect, indoor aquatic facilities were more common in colder climates. They were most commonly found among respondents from the Midwest, where 69.3% of aquatic respondents said they currently have indoor aquatic facilities. They were followed by the Northeast, where more than two-thirds (67.3%) of aquatic respondents said they include indoor aquatic facilities. In the West, 59.2% of aquatic respondents have indoor facilities. And smaller numbers in the South Atlantic region (56.1%) and South Central region (50%) said they currently have indoor aquatic facilities.

The trend reverses for outdoor pools, with those in the southern regions more likely to include outdoor aquatics. More than three-quarters (78.1%) of South Central respondents and 64.3% of South Atlantic respondents said their facilities currently include outdoor aquatics. They were followed by the West, where 57.1% of aquatic respondents said their facilities include outdoor pools. More than half of aquatic respondents in the Northeast (55.6%) and the Midwest (54.3%) currently include outdoor aquatic facilities.

Splash play areas were also more commonly found in the southern states. Half (50%) of South Central aquatic respondents and 48.6% of South Atlantic respondents said they currently feature splash play areas. They were followed by the Midwest, where 43.5% have splash play areas, the West (40.9%) and the Northeast (32.6%).