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February digital focus : aquatics AB HIGHLIGHTS aquatics COVERAGE COMPILED FROM OUR EXTENSIVE ARCHIVE

THIS MONTH we’re diving into our aquatics archive to bring you some of our best recent content on pool facilities and programming. Whether you’re running a pool for competition or recreation, you’ll find something below to help give your facility a boost in 2020.

Round-the-Clock Programming for Competition Pools

By Courtney Cameron

Aquatics facility operators are always looking for ways to fill the water during more hours of the day. But for large rectilinear pools, introducing recreational programming isn't always the best way to diversify use. Clovis West High School in Fresno, Calif., which has hosted the California Interscholastic Federation State Swimming & Diving Championships for five consecutive years, has a laser focus on competition aquatics — and still manages to keep the pool in use more than 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Hosting the Championships

The Clovis Olympic Swim Complex is a 1980s-era outdoor facility with a 50-meter pool, a 25-meter dive well with boards and platforms in a range of 1 to 10 meters, and an instructional pool. Over the course of the two-day CIF championship event in May, the complex hosted roughly 3,000 people, including competitors, coaches, officials and spectators.

According to Clovis West athletic director Matt Loggins, coordinating so many teams and events takes a lot of planning, preparation and logistics — and a few facility upgrades. During his tenure, the school has installed new bleachers along the east side of the 50-meter competition pool that can seat around 1,500 spectators at a time for large high school and collegiate swim meets and water polo tournaments. Other additions he's seen include the installation of a new outdoor video board for spectators, as well as non-slip matting on the pool deck and various specialized timing equipment. The complex also periodically rents portable shade structures from a local provider.

"With our facility, we want to make sure that we get as many people as possible close to those eight lanes on the competition end of the pool, so we put in bleachers," says Loggins. "We also put in multilevel press and VIP and coaching areas along the south end of the pool to frame the competition end. And then it does get warm here in the Central Valley, so we bring in shade covering over all the bleachers and block areas. The goal is for the athletes to come in and they don't need anything. We have everything covered, and we just want them to come in and compete to their very best."

With his team of like-minded coaches, teachers and administrators (Loggins serves as the logistics director for the championship meet, while the Clovis West head swim coach serves as competition director, and the district athletic director and assistant superintendent of educational services help with planning and preparations), Loggins does his best to accommodate up to 400 different schools at the aquatic center and makes sure everyone has what they need, whether it be a large team of up to 15 or a smaller contingent of one or two swimmers.

"We don't have a special staff for events, so we add on some additional duties," he says. "The four of us meet regularly throughout the year and we just divvy it out and tackle it and get it done. Set-up can be a challenge, but I think after year five we kind of have a blueprint and a plan."

Out-of-water accommodations

Hosting so many user groups in such a condensed period of time requires setting up temporary support spaces in addition to the connected locker rooms, showers and restrooms at the west end of the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex. The west end also connects to the school gym and courtyard, with a wrestling room directly off the pool deck that gets reallocated as a hospitality room for officials during the championships. The gymnasium itself is used as a team area, where competitors make use of the air conditioning and a live feed of the competition.

"We livestream the competition so the athletes are able to be in a climate-controlled environment and still know what races are going without having to be on deck," says Loggins. "That's one way we allow for a greater number of spectators to be closer to the competition — we remove the coaches and athletes."

Coordinating user groups

Besides being filled to capacity for high-profile annual competition events, the pools at Clovis West are used regularly for high school swim team practices and physical education classes — including sport-specific classes for swimming and water polo. "Before school it's utilized by our high school swim team, as well as our high school polo team, just depending on where we're at in the season," Loggins says. "Then after school our teams are practicing usually until about 5 or 5:30."

The district also operates a USA Swimming-affiliated swim club through the facility, which generally fills the hours between 5 and 9 at night, and the local dive club fills in any other gaps. "It's kind of a joint thing, where it's our campus and it's our site pool so we have some autonomy over it, but then the district has some shared autonomy."

The pools are open to the community only through established competition programs. Says Loggins, "It's not open for general swim. It's pretty organized." As one of five high schools in the Clovis Unified School District, each of which has at least a 30-meter pool, in addition to aquatics facilities at the district's junior highs, Clovis West has the freedom to specialize because the burden of use is shared. "There's a lot of water to be managed in Clovis Unified," Loggins says. "There are areas that do open for the public; we're just not one of those sites."

The Clovis Olympic Swim Complex's revenue comes from year-round club use more than the annual CIF championships, which Loggins considers a labor of love. "It's about allowing our kids to wake up in their own beds and come compete in a pool they're used to," he says, "and hopefully do very well."

This article originally appeared in the July | August 2019 issue of Athletic Business with the title "The Clovis Olympic Swim Complex: In Use Dawn to Dusk." Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry.

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Aquatics Programming for Fun and Profit

For those who have staked their careers in the aquatics industry, it comes as no surprise that the majority of an aquatics facility's revenue is generated through two means: learn-to-swim programs and competitive swim teams. These two staples of the aquatics facility landscape are dependable, continuous, low-maintenance — and predictable. Unfortunately, this means that the bulk of a facility's cost-recovery rests on the shoulders of a relatively small population. How can facility managers cater to the needs of their most loyal patrons while driving growth in the simultaneous goals of fun and profit?

Equipping Pools for Competition

Let's assume that your competition pool is no shorter than 25 yards, 25 meters or 50 meters with touchpads installed. No touchpads? You're allowed to add an extra 0.03 of a yard or meter, respectively, to the minimum length, per FINA rules. Let's also assume that you have 16 to 20 feet of deck width to accommodate not only spectators, but dozens of idle swimmers and roaming meet officials, who combined likely outnumber the spectators. Sufficient locker rooms, storage rooms and auxiliary spaces to accommodate team training and massage are a plus (and required if you plan to host an NCAA event).

NYC's 'Cool Pools' Project Tackles 11 Pools in Two Years

Renovating just one pool can be a huge undertaking — from narrowing down the available options to getting investors and the community on board to navigating closures while work is done. So it isn't difficult to imagine that committing to a renovation plan aimed at revamping every municipal pool over the course of several years is an impressive undertaking — especially in a city the size of New York, which boasts a staggering roster of 34 outdoor pools, 19 outdoor mini-pools and 12 indoor pools.

Pool Safety Products for Seamless Drowning Prevention

Lifeguards might be considered specialized guardian angels, keeping catastrophe at bay and providing peace of mind for aquatics facility patrons and operators alike. However, lifeguards aren't omniscient beings with supernatural gifts of sight — they are, in many cases, teens or young adults with a high level of personal responsibility and limited authority to make positioning changes to increase their own efficacy.

Aquatic Center Death Illustrates Limits of Immunity

Municipal sport and recreation service providers may have policies and procedures in place to minimize risks inherent in dangerous activities, but employees who fail to implement those protocols expose themselves and their organizations to liability. Moreover, municipalities should never view the governmental immunity defense as a foolproof safety net for negligence. These concepts recently came to light in Engelhardt v City of New Berlin, et. al., No. 2016AP801 (2019).

2020 Aquatic Design Portfolio