If you’ve gone swimming lately, you may have noticed that the community swimming pool of yore has made way for the aquatic center of tomorrow.

During the past four decades, the swimming pool industry has gone through a veritable sea change. This evolution has been driven by several factors, including more sophisticated consumers, increased regulation, and new technology.

Gennadiy Poznyakov/123RF
Source: Gennadiy Poznyakov/123RF

Based on an April 2017 article published in Athletic Business, here are six ways that public swimming facilities have changed during the past 40 years.

  1. Swimming has become a more immersive experience. Municipalities have invested in pools that are more interactive and recreational in purpose. Aquatic facilities have become larger and more like private water parks, offering waterslides, play structures, wave pools, artificial beaches, and more.
  2. Aquatic centers have become more luxurious. Public pools have taken on a more resort-like feel, and designers are paying much more attention to finishes, lighting, color, and landscape.
  3. Pools have gotten deeper. For a while, deep water was found only in competition or sports pools. Now, recreation pools have become deeper, too. This deep water allows for diving, rock climbing, zip lines, and extreme sports.
  4. Pool technology has improved. Across the aquatics industry, pool technology has evolved. Once upon a time, only the most sophisticated pools were built with automated backwash and rudimentary chemistry controllers, which checked for pH and oxidation-reduction potential. Nowadays, the water chemistry controller is essentially the pool’s “brain” and communicates with the pumps, heating, filters, and UV treatment centers.
  5. Pools have become more expensive. Not only has the cost of cement and steel gone up but transportation has also become more expensive. To offset these price increases, contractors utilize prefabricated building materials. Furthermore, municipal aquatic centers are generating income by building cabanas, pavilions, and celebration rooms, which can all be rented out.
  6. Pools are more highly regulated. There are now more government regulations inherent in the construction, operation, and maintenance of public pools. For instance, the American with Disabilities Act requires that every pool of a certain size offer a secondary means of access.

On a final note, members of the aquatics industry as well as government regulators have embraced the Model Aquatic Health Code. According to the CDC, this voluntary code helps “to make swimming and other water activities healthier and safer” and “to reduce risk for outbreaks, drowning, and pool-chemical injuries.”

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