Programming Your Pool for Everyone
by Ronda Brodsky, MS
Do you have times during the day when your pool is empty of patrons? If so, you are likely hoping for more as you see your facility finances going down the drain with the water. There are numerous pool programming ideas that can be utilized while keeping everyone happy and actively involved. All it takes is a little ingenuity and an understanding for offering the right activities to your clientele.
Programming for everyone makes sense financially. You can keep pool patrons happy while financially staying above the water. Pools and aquatic areas are not just for swimming, but this does not mean you ignore your fitness and/or lap swimmers; they are just as important as every other piece in your aquatic programming puzzle.
First, know what types of classes and activities your clients want. Also, keep in mind that you need to program your pool at all times of the day. Here are some ideas to help you expand your market:
- Lap Swimming
- Children’s Swimming Lessons
- Adult Swimming Lessons
- Water Fitness, Shallow and Deep
- Arthritis Programming (check out the AEA AFAP Program Leader Online Training Course)
- Senior Classes
- Youth Fitness Classes
- Swim Teams for All Ages, including Masters
- Birthday Parties
- Pool Rentals
- Scuba and Snorkeling Classes
- Canoeing and Kayaking Classes
- Sport Training and Conditioning
Our pools should be constantly filled with programs and activities. Lap swimming should be available at most times, supplemented by additional programs designated during specific time slots. For example, you might have swimming lessons in 2 lanes, lap swimming in 2 lanes, water walking in one lane, and a deep-water water fitness class in the dive-well – all happening at one time. Make sure that the proper signage is posted, and patrons know what the pool schedule will be when they arrive. In the case of special events, make sure that you provide proper notice so that everyone can plan accordingly.
Water temperature is another consideration for keeping everyone happy. Of course, it is ideal if you have multiple pools with different water temperatures, but many of us do not have that option. Although 83 degrees F (28.3 C) may sound a little cold for some populations and activities while very warm to the lap swimmers and those on a swim team, it can be feasible for many aquatic options. Believe it or not, if you keep the pool at this temperature and make sure that everyone is aware, you can efficiently program your pool for multiple uses. Children, seniors and some special populations (e.g. arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions) generally prefer warmer temperatures, so adjust accordingly with longer warm-ups, more active programming, and dynamic cool-downs; plus encourage participants to dress for the environment. On the other hand, swim teams may need a shorter warm-ups, adjusted training breaks, and other modifications since they generally prefer cooler water temperatures.
It can be possible to adjust the water temperature at different settings for the different activities but often this will cause additional headaches and if someone forgets or is there is a malfunction in the system you will have more problems. I have found the key to be honest and upfront on the temperature of your pool. Do not lie or lead a client to believe that you will change the temperature if he/she feels too cold or too hot.
Also, monitor air temperature and humidity as these influence the comfort level of both patrons in the water and staff on deck. For indoor pools, these environmental issues can be controlled to a certain degree; outdoor pools are in the hands of the weather. Is your indoor pool air properly maintained and set at safe, comfortable levels? It is recommended to maintain air temperature and humidity at the same level year round.
To keep your pools profitable, be creative and multi-program your space. However, do not over-program your pool. Experiment with different types of classes and aquatic activities; only keep those on the schedule that are popular and feasible for your facility. Organization is key! Aquatic management must stay on top of the game; staff must be prepared and positive; and clients must be kept informed.
I have developed many pool schedules and know that they are very time consuming, but the effort is well worth your effort. If you want any more ideas or input, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ronda Brodsky is a Physical Education and Health Teacher at a charter school in Detroit, Michigan, with a master’s degree in Physical Education. Ronda is an American Red Cross CPR, first aid, lifeguarding and water safety instructor. She has over 30 years in the aquatic industry as an AEA certified professional and a past presenter at IAFC. Ronda is a frequent contributor to Akwa magazine, AEA’s member publication, and the author of Aquatastic: Swimming Made Simple. Ronda can be reached at email@example.com