Category Archives: Programming

Lightning – Making an Informed Decision

One of the responsibilities of an Aquatic Facility Manager is to make an informed decision on when it is safe to swim.  This includes the quality of the water, risk management support and the presence of bad weather.  It is not uncommon for our firm to be consulted by aquatic facility operators when developing a policy for lightning storms.  Unfortunately, there are conflicting statements about what is in the best interest of public health and there does not seem to be a perfect answer. 

When these discussions come up, we often refer individuals to two publications to provide a perspective on the issues that need to be considered when making an informed decision for their particular facility.  In the November / December Aquatics International article, ”When Lightning Strikes”, Tom Griffith and Matt Griffin review injury statistics, code requirements and risk management variables.  This article summarizes:  “It’s impossible to eliminate all risk associated with pools without also eliminating the numerous benefits also associated with them. Competent operators and managers of aquatics facilities should be focusing on actual risks that are known to cause catastrophic injury and death, not on an urban myth that has no supporting evidence. Remember, hundreds of indoor pools are open every day during thunderstorms, and there’s never been a documented case of death attributed to lightning. Remember, too, that people swimming indoors during a thunderstorm are as safe as they can be.”

A second source that may be consulted is the publication Lifesaving Resources, LLC and an article written by Gerald M. Dworkin in 1998 and revised in June of 2012 titled “Emergency Procedures During Thunder & Lighting Storms.”  This article describes basic lightning facts and sample Standard Operating Procedures.  This article states: “All patrons and facility staff should be cleared from the water and the surrounding area (pool deck or beach) immediately at the first sounding of thunder or the first sighting of lightning. Because lightning is attracted to the tallest object in the area, patrons and facility staff should not be allowed to congregate under trees, umbrellas, or other tall objects. Everyone should leave the facility, go indoors, or stay in their automobiles until the storm passes.”  It goes on to state that “we advocate that the same principles that pertain to outdoor aquatic and recreation facilities should be followed for indoor facilities as well.”

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The Best Health Insurance

My advanced education in chemistry never prepared me to make wise decisions  relative to small business healthcare decisions.  After working on health insurance for our  team for seven years in a row, it seems this is the way the world is going –  until the Supreme Court decides otherwise.   I can only pray that divine intervention will bring some wisdom into our  executive, legislative and judicial branches in regard to healthcare. Though,  I’m not holding my breath. Where politics leads, stupidity will follow. We are  the ones to suffer.

Here’s a headline you don’t see every day. Your health is your  responsibility.  Uh oh, there goes my  shot at ever being an elected official. It may sound blunt, but it is reality.  Should there be help to prevent catastrophic health care costs? Absolutely!  Yet, let’s face reality. The best health  insurance is the one you never need to use (except for prevention) because we  exercise, eat right, relax in a pool or spa regularly (nice how I worked the  “pool and spa” thing in, eh?).

Take a serious look at High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and  elect and contribute to Health Savings Accounts (HSA).  These high deductible plans can make a person  gasp at first. Yet, if you can contribute to the HSA, focus on preventative  care, you can reduce your taxable income and build a financial buffer in the  HSA that can cover deductibles for years to come. Take that tax savings,  savings on your monthly premium, and use some of your pre-tax dollars to put in  your HSA account.  You own the HSA  contributions. According to today’s rules, when you turn 65, you can use the  HSA money for retirement. You have to consider how best to protect your family  against catastrophic health care costs. Take a serious look at HDHPs.

Oh yeah, make a $10.00 tax deductible donation to the Step  Into Swim™ campaign to  help fund programs that are creating swimmers.   Making a $10 donation helps reduce healthcare inflation, drowning,  increases fun and creates growth in our field

Reprinted from NSPF Blog


Welch Pool a Hit in Summer Sun

Counsilman – Hunsaker worked with the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority for the renovation of the William L. Welch Community Swimming Pool.  That facility was completed in May 2011.  The following article was recently published in the StateCollege News.


The William L. Welch Community Swimming Pool complex has been a big splash with the public.

“This is a wonderful community pool,” said Joe Boris, who just finished his 39th year of teaching at State College Area High School. “There’s a group of us here that is just like family. It’s kind of like our social circle.”

This marks the second season for the redeveloped complex on Westerly Parkway, which underwent a $5.2 million makeover prior to a grand reopening in May 2011.

The original pool opened in 1959.

““Even though the weather has been weird, we’ve sold a lot of season passes,” said John Sumereau, who has been a manager at the pool for four years. “There are attractions here that you can’t get anywhere else in the area.

“Some people think it’s a water park at first.”

Complete with two huge water slides, a waterworks area, lap pool, diving boards, whirlpool and a “lazy river,” there is plenty available for both children and adults to enjoy.

The Welch pool also has been a popular meeting place for State College residents — both old and new — through the years.

“It’s great. We all thought it would be awful when they tore it up,” said Cathy Murphy, who has been coming to the pool since 1995.

Murphy’s youngest child, Sam, is now a lifeguard. Aside from the diving boards, his favorite part about the complex is the people.

“They’re mostly friendly and nice,” he said. “Everyone cares about the rules and doesn’t break them.”

Sam was on the swim team at Welch from ages 5-12. The team still practices and holds meets at the pool.

Mehnaz Jehan, of State College, has just begun taking her 7-year-old daughter, Insha, to the pool. She particularly enjoys the winding tube slides. “It’s her favorite part,” Jehan said, chuckling.

Steve and Kari Smith especially like the Welch pool because it’s close to home. The Smiths take their two small children, Lilly and Juliana, to the “toddler time” that the pool offers.

“The older kids come later on and the kids take a nap in the afternoon, so it works out perfect,” Steve said.

Steve’s favorite feature of the pool is the water works area.

“There’s so much to do under two feet,” he says.

General swimming at the Welch pool starts at 1 p.m. on weekdays and noon on weekends. Both sessions end at 8 p.m. daily.

For rates and other information on the Welch pool, as well as its sister pool, Park Forest, you can visit the Centre Region Parks and Recreation website.

Positive Impact For Aquatics

Over the past decade, meaningful research has positively impacted the aquatics industry, but additional research is needed.  Areas of additional research are being identified, with many coming from the Model Health Code initiative.  Recent areas of study have included:

  • Supervising Young Children at Public Pools
  • Land-Based vs Underwater Treadmills in Aquatic Exercise
  • Lifeguard Perceptions of CPR
  • How Adolescents Modify Start Entries
  • C-Zones Framework for Examining Drowning
  • Swimmer Hygiene Behavior
  • “Float First” Drowning Prevention Strategy
  • Racing Start Safety – Effects of Water Depth
  • Need to Revise Chlorine Standards for Pools
  • Strength Games From Aquatic Exercise
  • Aquatic Exercise for Asthmatics
  • Older Adult Balance Training Using Water Exercise
  • Swimmer Responses When Caught In A Rip Current

The findings from this research can be referenced in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education.

As we look to the future, the question of “How can the industry have the best positive impact for the dollar?” was a recent topic of discussion with industry leader, Bill Kent.  Bill’s challenge was “What if we taught 1 million new swimmers?  Not just one demographic group, but a cross section of the population focusing on adults and children alike.  What impact would this have on inactivity, obesity, and quality of life for the aging society?”

Return on investment:  If each person cost $50 to teach to swim, then it would take $50 million to reach this goal.  While this figure may seem overwhelming, put this into context of the $4.8 billion estimated (300,000 pools X $16,000) spent on the recent VGB mandate and the unknown amount spent on chasing the current changing definition of the ADA mandates.  Joe Hunsaker often said, “Don’t confuse the urgent with the important”.  In reviewing how we have prioritized our investment in the aquatics industry, it appears as an industry that we are guilty of focusing on the urgent and not the important – teaching the life skill of swimming.

The good news is the “Step Into Swim” Campaign Announced by the National Swimming Pool Foundation.  This effort tries to reprioritize the importance of learning the life skill of swimming.  John Puetz, President of the National Swimming Pool Foundation Board of Directors, was quoted as saying “I dream of the day this campaign creates a million MORE swimmers.”  My challenge to the nine organizations who are key to delivering this goal is this: Don’t lose focus on the importance of actually teaching a million new swimmers. After taking care of the urgent, let’s get back to focusing on the important.

Healthy Body Seminars Reveal Why Pools and Hot tubs are good for your health and your family

If you read the papers (or Internet), you would think the aquatics field is all about death and pain. The exception is during an Olympic year when we witness some amazing athletes in bathing suits. I have the privilege and blessing to speak to groups around the world. Most people in the pool and spa industry (manufacturers, distributors, retailers, builders and service companies) seem to forget that people don’t buy pools or hot tubs so they can have a filter, variable speed motor, compliant drain cover, or a system to deliver disinfectant. That would be like buying a sports car because you like to get it filled up at the gas station or buy new windshield wiper blades. Give me a break!

Most people buy because the product creates value. It is good for their family, good for their health, or good for their ego. While we know so many folks out there buy a pool because it makes their backyard complete and they love to share the pool with their children and grandchildren, we also know our population is aging, and obese, and what better place to get exercise than in a pool or spa? I have been reading more and more in the trade publications that retailers and builders are hungry for the ‘science behind the pool and spa’ – what makes it so good for us.

Well, I hate to preach from the NSPF choir, but truly, there is only one conference in North and South America that includes a series of seminars on how the water environment helps people’s health. This year’s World Aquatic Health™ Conference (Oct 10-12 – Norfolk, VA) will reveal positive impacts on spinal cord injuries, heart disease, arterial health, autism, multiple sclerosis, and what the World Health Organization (WHO) is thinking about aquatic therapy. Check out the videos of past seminars we have on our YouTube channel.

Reprinted from the NSPF Blog