Sean Sepela has spent most of his life around water — as a swimmer, certified lifeguard, swim coach, and currently as the aquatics operations manager at George Mason University. As Sepela has immersed himself deeper into the aquatics world, he has recognized the evolving challenges aquatic facilities are facing today compared to years past. "There are a lot more concerns today compared to when I first started," he says. "Those 'what-if' situations we simply thought about years ago must be evaluated, assessed and trained for to ensure the safety of our swimmers and the facility itself."
While all may seem calm and peaceful in the water, there is a controlled chaos that is occurring outside of it as aquatics directors today must prepare against all potential dangers, regardless of whether or not that danger is deemed a logical threat. At swimming venues, bad fan behavior is considered extremely rare and easily handled, but the ripple effect of the Boston Marathon bombings have made an impact within the aquatics community. As Christopher Seris, assistant director for aquatics at the University of Missouri, states, "You don't really think about unruly fans at a swimming and diving competition, but you wouldn't necessarily expect that at a marathon, either."
Significant hours devoted solely to emergency planning and response training are required for an aquatics facility manager to adequately protect his or her facility, participants, spectators and staff, and the first step in that process is evaluating every possible scenario.