Have you ever observed a child play with a box? They are often more amused with the box than the toy that came inside it. Similarly, a rectangular pool doesn’t have to be boring. I confess that, as both a competitive swimmer and coach, I’m partial to the good 'ol fashioned lap pool. And I admit that the average rec swimmer probably doesn’t share my addiction to following the solid black line for thousands of yards at a time. But that doesn’t mean that your classic 50-meter pool is obsolete; it's actually quite the contrary. Your facility is full of recreational potential. A 50-meter pool is large enough to incorporate many different attractions. It is also large enough to accommodate several different activities at once, giving the facility a lot of programming flexibility. With a little creativity – thinking outside of the box, if you will – you can transform your “box” into the coolest pool in town!
Without further ado, here are Counsilman-Hunsaker's top ten ideas for supercharging your 50-meter pool:
10) Diving Boards
While many facilities are removing their diving boards, we encourage you to keep them, or perhaps even re-install them. (This assumes your pool depth and shape meets the applicable code requirements.) Diving boards – both one-meter and three-meter – offer a lot of recreational value, as well as a different experience for each swimmer, depending on their ability. Looking to add to your diving board use? Host a cannonball contest for added fun!
9) Jumping Platforms
Most patrons are not competitive divers, but many will welcome the opportunity to experience a little “cliff” diving. A jumping platform can be different than the platforms used for competitive diving. There are no specific dimensional requirements, but the pool depths must be appropriate for the equivalent height of the diving platform.
8) Water Slides
Tall and colorful water slides will attract attention from your regular patrons, as well as folks who have been driving past the pool for years without paying much attention. Water slides with runouts make a great addition because they don’t require any space in the pool as the plunge area. Drop slides discharge into the pool, but require about the same amount of clear space as a diving board. Sometimes it is possible for a drop slide to share a platform with a three-meter diving board.
7) Zip Lines
Speaking of features that can share the three-meter diving platform, zip lines can add a lot to your facility. Other than a secure place to anchor the cable and a tall platform (approximately 6-10 feet), a zip line doesn’t require much equipment. They don't require a large footprint of deck or pool space, nor do they obscure sightlines as do some of the larger pool features.
6) Climbing Walls
Climbing walls also come with a water depth and clear space requirement, but if you have the space, go big! Climbing walls offer a fun experience across a wide range of ages. Consider installing two climbing walls to add a competitive aspect to your facility, with climbers racing one another to the top!
If your 50-meter pool has more deep water than you need, consider adding a sprayground. Your facility may already have enough extra deck space to add a small sprayground. Or, there may be an opportunity to extend the pool deck to accommodate this type of feature. Flush-mounted sprays, vertical features, and even multi-level play structures are all options for spraygrounds. The opportunities when it comes to theming these structures are also practically limitless.
4) Inflatable Obstacle Courses
Not every pool has enough space to contain this much excitement, but your 50-meter pool does! Inflatable obstacle courses offer the experience of climbing, running, and jumping, all while racing friends along the way. Obstacle courses also lend themselves well to tournaments or obstacle course “Olympics.”
3) Water Basketball
Water basketball is a classic swimming pool activity. It is a low cost addition that can be provided at almost any pool. Swimmers will enjoy playing games, or just shooting hoops.
2) Water Volleyball
Similar to water basketball, water volleyball is a classic swimming pool activity. It is also a low cost addition which can be added to many pools. Nearly everyone knows how to play, and families and friends of various ages can all play at the same time.
1) Recreational Aquatic Sports Leagues and Tournaments
Many of the above activities can be transformed into a league, tournament, or even a one-day event. Cannonball contests, climbing wall races, obstacle course tournaments, basketball and volleyball tournaments, or even water polo or underwater hockey can all be established activities. Whether you create a regular league, or promote and host a one-day event, these events can draw in new swimmers of all types. Offering small prizes throughout the summer will keep them coming back for more. However, bragging rights may be the best prize of all!
So there you have it! Utilize some of these ideas in your facility to get more use out of your 50-meter pool.