- A Call to Action for the Aquatics Industry
by Eric Herman June 2014
Last week I couldn’t help but notice this year’s Memorial Day observance took place just days after the breaking news about the falsified records scandal at VA hospitals. In a world filled with brutal ironies, that one was a doozy!
Naturally, the timing led to all sorts of political finger-pointing and moral handwringing about how we’re failing in our duty to assist our wounded service people. Although that simple observation is something most people probably believe in, it’s equally apparent that without action, even the most well- intended rhetoric does little, if any good at all.
As is true for many, Memorial Day is a really big deal for my family. My dad is an Air Force Vietnam vet; my stepfather a Word War II Navy vet; and my grandfather served as a Marine in both WWII and Korea. As my thoughts were with these heroes — all of who remain healthfully extant — and their brothers and sisters in arms who haven’t been so fortunate, I realized that the aquatics industry is perfectly positioned to offer assistance in this current crisis of care.
For many wounded warriors, aquatic therapy stands as one of the most effective means of treating both physical and mental injuries. Community aquatic centers, YMCAs, university facilities and others should take the lead in making free access to such facilities for veterans a top priority. And better still, wouldn’t it be great if such facilities programmed use with war-injured veterans in mind? That could be as simple as reserving a couple swim lanes exclusively for vets during certain times, or as involved as bringing in therapists to volunteer their time and services. Facility owners and managers might even consider reaching out to VA hospitals and clinics as partners to make aquatic exercise more readily available to those vets who need it most.
On a purely self-serving level, I can’t think of a more noble or effective way to promote the profound health benefits of water-based rehabilitation. The fact is, catering to our active and retired servicemen and women would be spectacular PR. It’s exactly the kind of exposure our industry needs. Beyond that interest, however, is the reality that opening doors to vets could do genuine good for those who are unfortunately being underserved by the institutions designed to help them.
Keep in mind that our most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated how modern medical science can keep severely wounded soldiers alive. Ultimately those advances in lifesaving procedures and technology put more burden and responsibility on society at large to take care of these brave souls as they move forward in their post-military lives or seek to re-enter active duty.
In saying all this, I realize there are already many facilities moving in this direction, and the call to action is being heard across the aquatics industry. In preparing this discussion, I found the following passage in an article on the website for the Aquatic Exercise Association by Will Corley, an undergraduate in the Exercise Physiology program at West Virginia University:
Many different injuries are seen in returning veterans of modern warfare. Since the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, 50,420 United States service members have been wounded in action. Injuries range from chronic lower back pain to multiple limb amputations due to the large forces of present day weapons. Cognitive impairments, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), can make a veteran’s return difficult as well. These injuries and mental disorders can be managed using aquatic therapy and exercise programs… but are there enough nationwide?
For those owners and managers who might not have given the idea any thought, however, maybe the time is nigh.
For those of us who aren’t in a position to institute such programs, we can always use our voices to support the idea of opening up aquatic centers to vets, free of charge. You might also consider hosting a fundraiser or donating to the Wounded Warrior Project, which is doing important work helping our wounded service personnel integrate into society.
There is always some way you can help.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to meeting wounded vet needs. Given the flexibility and power of aquatic therapy, however, our industry is arguably well positioned to offer an important and helpful part of the answer.
Eric Herman is senior editor of AB's sister publication AQUA magazine.
- Athletic Business Architectural Showcase 2014 Map
by AB Staff June 2014
View 2014 AB showcase locations in a full screen map
This year marks the 27th year of Athletic Business's Architectural Showcase and 29th Facility of Merit awards program. The University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium graced the cover of the first "Showcase on Architecture" as it was initially called, one of 45 facilities to be highlighted in the June 1988 issue.
Not surprisingly, facilities have gotten bigger and more expensive since our first Showcase — there is a more than $100 million difference between the most expensive project this year and its counterpart in 1988 — but there's still room for smaller projects. College projects continue to dominate the market, though preferences have changed — a campus-rec standard today, climbing walls were all but nonexistent in facilities of the '80s.
- Giving Aquatic Competition Venues Star Treatment
by Clarence D. Mamuyac Jr. May 2014
The University of Southern California Trojans have won 11 national championships in football. Pretty impressive. But you might not know that the school's swimming and diving program has won 10 national championships, and its water polo teams have won 13 — this year's win marked the sixth in a row for the men's team.
- Design Details: Auto Garage Salvaged as Swim School
by Paul Steinbach April 2014
Adaptive reuse is viewed as a key factor in the rejuvenation of historic or older structures and land. But there's another "green" aspect of the process that makes adaptive reuse resonate even more with facility owners: It can save money. Case in point is Splash Swim School in Walnut Creek, Calif., which was constructed for a cool $1 million.
- After 133 Closures in 2013, City Steps Up Pool Testing
by April 2014
When many people go to the local pool for a swim, they don’t think twice about the delicate chemical balance required for the water to be safe for swimmers — they assume there are people responsible for checking that — and they’d be right.
But according to the Lincoln, Neb., Journal Star, city inspectors worry those tasked with checking the pool's chlorine and pH levels may not be doing so correctly.
In 2013, Lincoln closed 133 pools after inspections revealed that the water did not meet quality standards — which may indicate that water testers are making errors during testing.
Under current regulations, lifeguards at a pool can handle pool tests with little training in the correct testing processes.
Pool water is tested by adding a chemical to a small sample of pool water and stirring the sample to turn the water pink. Then another chemical is added to return the water to its original color.
“It’s like a chemistry test,” Scott Holmes, Environmental Public Health Division manager for the local department, told the Journal Star. “You have to add the correct number of drops. You have to swirl and not shake.”
Under proposed changes to the outdated pool-testing rules, only certified pool operators or pool testers would be allowed to do quality checks. In order to become certified, candidates would be required to take a short class and be tested to make sure they know how to test the water. The certification class would cost $20 dollars and would make a tester certified for two years.
Testing water correctly plays a large role in helping maintain healthy pool users. When the water has the right pH and chlorine balance, it can reduce the transfer of certain types of diseases and infections.
In 2001, Lincoln suffered an outbreak of cryptosporidium, a diarrheal illness, after it is estimated that it originally spread through public swimming pools. At its peak, there were more than 133 cases of cryptosporidium that had been acquired through public swimming pools.
- Dehumidifiers Help Maintain Air Quality in Natatoriums
by Eric Herman April 2014
Anyone who has spent time around indoor pool facilities can likely relate to the challenge of maintaining desired air quality within those spaces. All too often, the humidity is too high, the air smells bad and the temperatures are either too high or too low. In some extreme cases, the air quality is so degraded it can present health hazards and/or create conditions that keep people away.
- Peeing in Public Pools Common and Harmful, Say Studies
by Michael Gaio March 2014
It might not come as a huge shock, but now there's actually proof to back it up: peeing in the pool is harmful to swimmers' health. And that's bad news considering the Los Angeles Times reports one in five Americans admits to peeing in a public swimming pool.
- A Combination of Technologies Optimizes Pool Water Treatment
by Steve Kenny January 2014
Perfectly polished water contained in a public or commercial swimming pool can be wonderfully inviting. It's ultimately the reason pools and spas exist; humans feel good in clean water. Unfortunately, water that's left insufficiently treated can have the opposite effect. My many years as a swimming pool service/water chemistry professional has led me to firmly believe that water treatment in many aquatic facilities is not only badly antiquated, but far too often potentially harmful.
- New Projects: Nippert Stadium | Agoura Hills Rec | Almont Park
by Emily Attwood December 2013
A renovation and expansion of the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium (above) kicks off this month. The $86 million privately funded project will increase the stadium's capacity from 35,000 to 40,000 and include a new press box, suites and club seats. Renovations to the west concourse will include updates to the concessions stands and restrooms. Heery International, based in Atlanta, is lead architect on the project, which is expected to wrap up in August 2015.
- 2013 Facilities of Merit: Regent Park Aquatic Centre
by AB Editors October 2013
From its "dorsal fin" roof feature to its ground-level window walls, Regent Park Aquatic Centre represents a sculptural park pavilion presence befitting its location within a rigorous urban grid.