Feature Article - November 2022
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Pool Pizzazz

Add These Accessories to Improve Programming Safety, Efficiency & Accessibility

By Joe Bush


Adding pool accessories is the easiest and most budget-friendly way to expand your aquatic facility's programming and entertainment potential, improve safety and accessibility, and find new routes to operational efficiency. Many of those enhancements lead to extra revenue of course, which helps with return on investment.

If you're building a pool, you're not exactly adding accessories, but regardless of whether the project is new construction or a refresh/remodel, the choices for each goal are many.

Let's break accessories down by category, then address accessories for competition-heavy pools.

Programming & Entertainment

Whether you plan to add classes like swimming and water aerobics, competitions and sports like water polo, or just plain fun, with obstacle courses and more, you can find equipment to help enhance such offerings.

To section off areas so that existing classes and events can continue alongside new ones, Kelle Snyder, commercial marketing manager for a manufacturer of commercial pool deck equipment, suggests mobile dividers like bulkheads.

A pool divider is capable of segmenting the pool into multiple bodies of water and allowing things like swim practice on one side and open recreational play on the other side, she said. "Without these pool dividers, you have to solely dedicate a facility to one or the other, and likely the recreational hours are the ones that get cut short," said Snyder. "Now that you have dedicated space for recreational programming, this versatility allows a recreational facility to not only increase utilization but add revenue as well."

George Deines of Counsilman-Hunsaker said some action-packed accessories that entered the scene in the past decade are holding their ground in popularity. "We are still seeing climbing walls and deck-anchored zip lines added to the deep end of the pool to add play value to that area of the pool," he said. "Inflatables and the [retractable ninja course] are both amenities that can help turn a flatwater lap pool into a full-fledged obstacle course."

Deines said the creativity of programming directors should be considered an accessory as well. "Special events have always been popular at indoor pools," he said. "Programming an aquatic Easter egg hunt, a rubber duckie race in the current channel or lazy river, or even a dive-in movie night utilizing the timing system video board are great ways to offer community programs at your pool."

For larger budgets, facilities can add whole new systems for more fun, said Justin Caron, principal and CEO of Aquatic Design Group. "The facility could design and build a new pool to complement their existing offerings, or renovate their existing pool to add more recreational elements, such as river current channels, vortexes, beach entry, interactive structures and interactive wet play elements," said Caron. "The influx of new surfing technology can also be added to an existing facility, either in the pool itself, or nearby with one of several sheet flow and deep water surfing box waves."

Safety

Caron said operators should make sure their pool surface and deck surface are predictable and have the right amount of slip resistance. Adding a fall-attenuation style surface around play features can help parents feel more comfortable bringing their children and reduce the potential liability on the operator, he said. Air and water quality are important safety features as well, Caron said. He suggested adding low-voltage/high-voltage fans, replacing or upgrading the existing pool dehumidification unit, installing UV, advanced oxidation process (AOP), or another secondary means of disinfecting pool water, and/or installing a source capture chloramine removal system.

Accessibility

Pools provide an environment that expands mobility for patrons with physical disabilities and other physical challenges, which makes it extremely important that ADA-approved access points are a part of the pool, said Snyder.

"Since pools and bodies of water come in all shapes and sizes, there are different requirements for each that make a pool ADA-compliant from zero-entry designs to aquatic access lifts," she said. "In terms of lifts, there are numerous designs and features that can be best suited to any pool, ranging from portability to varying range of motions, but the most important topic in accessibility is the fact that the lifts must be usable and available at all times that the facility is open. This means diligent maintenance and monitoring of battery levels to ensure anyone who wants access to the pool will be able to get it on demand."

Caron said lower-level sinks and counters for wheelchair-bound patrons are crucial, as is adding handrails and altering the deck surface with different finishes.