The municipal aquatic center found a happy merge of the convenience of a public pool with various fun features of the commercial waterpark while segregating creative water play areas for various age groups. Aquatic attractions have become much more age defined with age limitations and appropriateness due to elements of thrill and capabilities. Tots enjoy shallow pools with gentle water features and play areas tucked securely out of the way of the more active areas. Once children grow out of the tot stage they romp in zero-beach free-form pools and make their adventurous way across water walks and participatory play features with “just-their-size” waterslides. Older children speed down flume and drop waterslides and enjoy large water play structures. Teens enjoy gathering spots like action islands with access to deep water pools and extreme features (dizzying swirl slides and competing FlowRiders). Lazy rivers and current channels accomodate just about everyone while spas and lap lanes are geared for adults.
Just like other parks and recreation amenities, aquatic centers stimulate local economic development. According to the National Association of Homebuilders, parks and recreation areas may enhance the value of nearby land 15-20% as recreation amenities encourage happier and healthier families, positive business growth, and economic development opportunities. Creative people choose to live in communities with first-class amenities and cutting edge experiences. Further, championship venues bring tourism revenue to local hotels, restaurants, and stores. Activities enlarge the tax base and stimulate the economy, which then provide more tax revenue that the agency can use to enhance or expand infrastructure, facilities, programs and services.
Championship venues have seen a rise in building “fast” pools. Twenty years ago swimmers swam nearly their entire race at the surface. Today, most elite swimmers swim a large percentage of their races 3 to 4 feet below the surface, utilizing a butterfly (dolphin) kicking technique. This technique has been shown to create turbulence that extends far beyond the boundary layer produced in other strokes. Consequently, pool depth more closely correlates to swimming speed. The exceptionally fast pool features wide gutter construction, carefully calibrated water depth, gutter hung touchpads that do not disrupt the gutter's ability to absorb wave energy, and well-designed and properly tensioned floating lane lines to keep the swimmer’s waves isolated in one lane while smoothing out the water within the lane.
Climate-controlled venue natatoriums offer a year-round, light-filled swimming experience with a 50-meter by 25-yard pool or a 25-meter by 25-yard pool. Other amenities include 1-meter and 3-meter springboards, a Colorado Timing system, full color video scoreboard, high quality sound system, and ample spectator seats. A swimmer’s ability to see pool wall targets, floor markings and other swimmers is critically related to good visibility, which depends upon water clarity, state-of-the-art filtration and chemical treatment systems, as well as one hundred foot-candles of light, more if televised. All surfaces touched by the swimmer, such as walls and starting blocks, are slip resistant surfaces. A movable bulkhead offers versatility to accommodate other aquatic lessons, fitness, and activities while a whirlpool spa extends a rejuvenating sanctuary for soothing muscles.
The development of campus leisure pools with lap lanes, large spas, bubble benches, current channels and lots of open space represents a changing facet of the recreation scene at colleges and universities. Today, rather than pools that support select, elite student athletes, schools gravitate toward facilities that support the entire student body, including ADA populations. It is reported that facilities that offer students a place on campus to pursue exercise, leisure experiences, and recreation opportunities have proven to be populated showpieces and an enormous recruitment tool. Moreover, a major clientele benefit of school leisure pools is the quadrennial turnover; schools are always recruiting new "clients" for whom the leisure pool remains a fresh experience.
Due to the associated health benefits of the warm water wellness experience, therapy pools have grown in medical-based popularity. Aquatic therapists provide rehabilitation movements to clients in warm water pools that involve exercise and motion to increase the dynamics of blood pressure and blood and lymph circulation as well as decreasing swelling in skin and other tissues. Users include injured athletes, post operative patients, the disabled (permanent and temporary), arthritis sufferers, diabetics, pregnant women, aging baby boomers, meditation enthusiasts, and obese patients. Ergonomically well-designed aquatic therapy environments offer easy access ramps, perimeter railings, aerobic steppers, treadmills, underwater benches, flexible pool depths for multiple programmatic needs, high-quality water chemical treatment systems, and an appropriately designed HVAC/DH system. Pleasing environments—tranquil waterfalls, natural daylight, aromatherapy, and ambient music from a built-in sound system—cradles the mind and body in a relaxing, soothing, and peaceful way.
Fierce competitors for leisure spending dollars coupled with the versatility of today’s products make it possible to build imaginative pools and provide authentic, functional settings. Immersive waterscapes have become the norm for waterparks and the resort experience as the hospitality and waterpark industries have exploded in destination waterscapes that create indelible memories in sought after locations. With the continued advancement in the fabrication of water features for safety, fun and fantasy, themed waterscapes create water jungles, pirate coves, and Mayan temples (to name only a few) with physical fitness and imaginative play for a whole day of fun. Some pools blend with their exquisite regional architecture and landscapes while others translocate guests to far away places with immersive environments. A concentration of immersive environments can be observed in the Wisconsin Dells, Las Vegas, and Orlando, where the amusement and leisure industry offer four-season destinations with hybrid segments of water, theme, and amusement parks.