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Maximizing Pool Programming

Author   by Craig Yaniglos


As I’ve traveled the country as an AEA Aquatic Training Specialist, I’ve often been asked, how do you offer so many programs?  This often leads to a soapbox speech about how pools don’t have to constantly run in the negative and, with the right leadership and the right programs, your pool can be profitable.  A pool is an extremely valuable space and as such needs to be programmed correctly, both in terms of activities that effectively coexist and in regard to charging the right price to make sure you’re always making money.

In a post COVID-19 world, these principles will ring truer than ever.  It pains me to think that the current worldwide virus that has shut down most of our country is not only going to permanently damage small businesses, but it’s going to inevitably close down more pools.  Perhaps it’s going to be too late for some, but if not, take some of these ideas and hit the ground running so your pool can get back into full swing on day one!

Just like in your aqua aerobic classes where everyone believes their name is on the bottom of the pool and they are entitled to as much space as they want, your other programs all think the same way.  We all want the entire pool for as long as possible.  Greedy, right?  Well this is where leadership needs to take control.  You have to figure out how to please as many people as possible; sometimes we can make the changes quickly and others have to be eased into slowly. 

Intuition is very important here, so I recommend taking easy wins first before biting off some harder situations.  For example, you shouldn’t get too many complaints for hosting a lifeguarding class during an open swim.  First, you get great publicity and free advertising that you offer these courses and, second, you have a high margin program (lifeguarding) helping to subsidize a lower margin program (open swim). 

Swim teams seem to pose some of the most challenging space requirements because they swim horizontally and like to spread out their swimmers.  This is where you can easily be fooled.  As a recovering swimmer and swim coach, sure, it’s great to have extra space, but there is no reason why 10 people and sometimes a few more share a lane together.  This may open up a lane or two, which you can then program for swim lessons or an aerobics class.  Remember, we want to program every square inch of the facility for as much time as we can. 

Again, leadership is essential.  At my prior facility, we had an L-shaped pool – 25 yards by 25 meters.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we offered deep-water classes in the deepest (12-foot) section, that was approximately 45ft x 45ft).  I always told the swim coaches to do training on those days so they did not have to compete against the music; they could focus on technique on the other days.  It is much like making lemonade out of lemons, but when I was a coach I was able to figure this all out.  I didn’t want to yell over loud music, but I also realized how important that music was to the class.  I made the adjustments and it worked just fine.  I still coached state level athletes in one of the fastest states in America. 

Now that we have more time than ever on our hands, prepare for the rise of our swimming pools.  Draw a picture of your pool and start thinking about how much space might be needed for each program.  Keep in mind, we can create our own demand!  What I mean by this is offer something no one else has but requires minimal space – e.g. a Hydrorevolution® circuit.  Minimal equipment, minimal space, limit enrollment and upcharge!  Now think about where this program might fit into your space and schedule.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.  You may have to come up with a proof of concept and you may have to ask more than once, but my message to you is to keep trying!  Our pools depend on this to move forward.  Managers should be cheering for new ideas to make money and boost budgets, but often times they lack vision.  Paint the picture they need to see and get the authorization to try new programming.  Then execute it flawlessly to prove your point.  Win one battle and the others will fall into place.  Before you know it, your pool will be programmed to the max! 

If you ever want to run ideas by me, I’m always happy to help think through proposals.  Please reach out to me via email at craigleswim@gmail.com.



Craig Yaniglos is the CFO for Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools.  Craig holds group fitness certification with ACE and is an AEA Aquatic Training Specialist and AEA CEC Provider.  Craig is passionate about attracting all types of populations to the pool and educating aquatic fitness professionals around the globe.

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