Category Archives: Research

Pool Design Part 2 – Often Forgotten Elements of the Best Pools

You can read about the science behind a good pool but what else goes into a facility to really make it great? It is easy when designing a pool to stop at the pumps controlling a pool and the hole you put in the ground but a truly good facility looks not only at the athlete but also at the ease of hosting an event and making a facility that considers all aspects of a true Natatorium

Lighting– Lighting is often an afterthought in many aquatic center designs and often times, no consideration is given to how it can effect a race. Lighting is important for both judging the distance and gauging the swimmer position, in competition. A good facility design has considered a careful balance of natural light with careful attention to limiting the glare it could cause and un-natural lights with proper angles and illumination for optimal racing, all while keeping in mind the spectator experience and officiating requirements.

Acoustics– A natatorium has to deal with all sorts of sounds. There are starter buzzers, official whistles, final lap bells, announcements, coaches coaching, on-deck athletes talking and spectators cheering. It can be difficult to design a facility that considers and properly accommodates for all the action but when you are in the design phase, choosing the right elements can make for sound dampening like wall angles and materials, speaker placement, spectator viewing area placement and athlete accommodation areas. Good teams work with engineers that specialize, exclusively, on aquatic acoustics.

HVAC Systems– With fresh, clean air, an athlete can perform better. Lung expansion and contraction can reach optimal levels and non-athletes are in a more comfortable, more enjoyable space. Fresh air is critical not just for the performance of the athlete but also for the comfort of the spectators and those fully clothed.  Spectators require cooler air with higher velocities as compared to the athletes on the pool deck.  When it comes to HVAC solutions in natatoriums, there is not a one-size fits all approach.

Deck Dimensions– Optimal deck space is really dependent on the types of swimming going on in your facility. For a strictly practice facility, the most important element is the pool itself and deck space needs to accommodate for the coach, swimmers that are not in the pool and their parents. When considering a facility that can host collegiate and elite competition, it is important to consider television tracks, appropriate space for the number of swimmers attending the competitions. Let’s not forget the officials who have to traverse the length of the pool, and don’t want to fall in due to congested walkways. Once your space is designed and built, it is very costly to expand you space and with the right feasibility study and market research, an appropriate size can be determined

Spectator Seating– The joke in swimming is that you always want to separate the coaches and swimmers from the parents by putting them on the second level to view at a distance. But in truth, having seating on the second level provides the best feel for the fans and the most room for everyone taking part in the event. The swimmers want to feel energies by crowds as well as feeling like they have space to focus on there on events. In elite competition, this also enables security and safety of athletes to be controlled and can provide easier credential check points.

It can be a challenge to consider all users that are affected by an aquatics facility but with proper planning and a good team, you can truly make a great space. Being considerate of your market opportunity and users can ultimately position your facility to stay on budget with a build and optimize the return by capturing an appropriate audience of users.

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Model Aquatic Health Code “Knitted” Version Released for Final Round of Public Comments

March 28, 2014

MAHC milestone reached!

Today marks an important milestone in the development of the MAHC, the nation’s first science-based model guidance for swimming pools and other aquatic venues. The first complete “knitted” version of the MAHC has now been released for the MAHC’s second of two 60-day rounds of public comments. This knitted version blends together the 14 modules that have been developed, opened for public comment, and revised based on your feedback.

Be a part of history—send us your comments

Are you an environmental or other public health professional, aquatics facility designer or operator, scientist specializing in waterborne disease or injury prevention, other professional, or a member of the general public interested in protecting and advancing public health at aquatic venues? If so, you are invited to review this version of the MAHC and submit your comments by May 27, 2014.

Spread the word

Please remind your colleagues that this complete, knitted version of the MAHC is now open for public comment. We encourage you to forward this email and/or to use your social media channels to spread the word. You may use, edit, or customize the following sample posts for use on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.:

  • Submit      comments on first complete “knitted” version of Model Aquatic Health Code      released today. Deadline 5/27. http://go.usa.gov/Kfex
  • Be part      of history! Submit comments on 1st complete national      science-based code for swimming pools. http://go.usa.gov/Kfex
  • First      complete “knitted” version of Model Aquatic Health Code released for      public comment. Submit comments by 5/27 http://go.usa.gov/Kfex

Thank you for your review! We look forward to your comments. We will revise the knitted version of the MAHC based on the comments we receive and are excited to release the MAHC 1st Edition in summer 2014.

Pools are closing? An issue we should all be concerned about!

Between 2005 and 2007 the Facilities Development Department at USA Swimming began noticing a trend in pool closings. In 2007 we started tracking the closings while keeping a short file on each one. The map of closings depicts a 2 year period between Spring 2011 and Spring 2013. There were almost 1,100 commercial or intuitional pools closed during this most recent 2 year period. The main reasons for the pool closings were:

  • Older pools ignoring or delaying upgrades and repairs to the point that the pool cost more to fix than any budget can handle.
  • Pools relying on simple “day pass” income and water rental rather than offering total aquatic programming options.
  • Budget cutbacks by cities and schools and rather than revamp the aquatic program offerings for the community, the “people in charge” of the budget simply close the pool.

Solutions the USA Swimming FDD Offers:

  • Educate the people responsible for the “fate of the pool” about programming offerings and pricing and maintenance escrows in budget.
  • Offer advice and assistance in the best practices for pool operations and renovations.
  • Supply an Aquatic Programming Manual (at no charge) to help increase the pools community value and revenue.
  • Do our best to make sure all new facility designs have at least 2 pools. The main pool and a warmer water smaller pool for teaching aquatic programming. Programming precedes design.

Pool Closing2

Pool Plaster Spalling – Improper Installation or Poor Water Chemistry?

11_viewpointPool plaster is made up of cement, sand and water.  It is commonly troweled onto a concrete pool shell in 3 to 5 separate passes – the early passes to place the material and the later passes to create a smooth final finish.  After plaster is troweled, excess water will bleed to the surface.  Bleed water then evaporates from the surface.  There are two common mistakes made during troweling.  First, if troweling is completed when bleed water is present it will force water back into the plaster paste which causes excessively high water to cement ratio which weakens the finished surface.  Second if troweling is completed late after the surface is too dry a crust will form with a wet paste underneath.  This will create a weakened zone subsurface.  This typically happens on dry, hot days with low humidity and wind.  If this happens, the finished surface will look fine and even last awhile if the pool is full of water.  However, when the pool is emptied, a 16th to an 8th inch layer of plaster will flake off or spall in small areas or spots.  Pool plaster spalling is a rare occurrence but most often happens in areas that are challenging to apply plaster including step areas, main drains, and shallow areas.  Often, the first reaction to pool plaster failure is to blame the pool water chemistry however improper installation is typically the cause of pool plaster spalling.

Revised MAHC Modules Posted: Disinfection & Water Quality, Regulatory

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent this bulletin on 1/24/2014

Model Aquatic Health Code

Thank you for your interest in the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC), a collaborative effort of public health, academia, and industry working to protect individuals, families, and communities from preventable waterborne diseases and injuries through evidence-based guidance. Read below for the latest information.

New

The Disinfection and Water Quality Module and the Regulatory Module have been revised and re-posted after the first public comment period. View the revised modules and the response to comments documents.

Reminders

The first full version of the MAHC is coming soon, and we want your feedback! We plan to release the first full version of the MAHC—a combination of all revised modules and supplemental information—in spring 2014 for a 60-day public comment period.

Get a head start!

Because the MAHC will be a long document, we encourage you to get a head start and begin compiling your comments now on the modules that have been revised after the first public comment period so that you have plenty of time to submit your feedback. The content of these modules will not change substantially, but we will have to reorganize information that may be duplicated in multiple modules and resolve conflicts where duplicate items make different recommendations. We will announce when the full version is posted and we are accepting public comments for 60 days.

Each module has a short synopsis or abstract highlighting the most critical recommendations.

You can monitor the status of all modules on the MAHC website.