So that got me to thinking, if resolutions are great for people, why not industries? What would be some good resolutions for the
aquatics industry to take on in 2010? If you have some thoughts of your own, I
hope you’ll share them here.
For now, here’s a short list I came up with:
1. I will be more confident. This seems to be a deep-seated problem in the industry, and it has far reaching effects. From getting shut out
of stimulus money to being the first on the chopping block when it comes to
budgets cuts, aquatics gets no respect. For that, we have no one to blame but
ourselves. The best way to sum it up is to relay a conversation I had with
another professional at a recent trade show. I asked him how aquatics
professionals can reinvent themselves and their facilities in these tough
economic times and he essentially said the industry needs to take more pride in
itself. We offer the public something that very few others can: wellness,
family togetherness, lifetime memories and community. Not to mention, a
lifetime skill that may one day save their lives. If we really believe in
ourselves and sell ourselves that way, nothing can stop us.
2. I will value myself more. Aquatics professionals must get away from the idea that they are charities and start acting like the valuable
assets they are. This means rethinking what you charge for everything from
daily passes to swim lessons. If you tell the public you’re only worth $2 a day,
that’s how they’re going to treat you. Yes, it’s important for aquatics to
serve the public, including the disadvantaged. But no one will be served if
your facility can’t make enough to survive. What aquatics facilities offer is
too valuable to lose, and your public will agree if given the chance.
3. I will get paid what I’m worth. This one is a subcategory of the previous resolution. Just as aquatics professionals don’t seem to
understand the value of their facilities, they also don’t seem to understand
the value of themselves as professionals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it
again, aquatics professionals are woefully underpaid. But they’re okay with it.
This is rooted in an odd misplaced nobility: Most of you love aquatics so much,
you feel lucky to be able to work around the water everyday. It’s not fair to
get paid well for something that’s so fun. To this I say, “baloney!” Plenty of
people love their jobs and get paid quite well for it. And those people don’t
have to go through the training, stress and demands that you do. They also
don’t have the ultimate responsibility of protecting people’s lives, which
aquatics professionals shoulder daily. From lifeguards to managers, you’re
4. I will do the easy things first. This is sort of a catch all for a lot of things. For example, I hear from a lot of operators that
they’re having trouble with operating expenses. Yet, these same operators
haven’t invested in one of the simplest, cost saving measures available: pool
covers. The same goes for UV disinfection in the fight against RWIs. Yes, UV is
great supplemental santizer, but one of the most important steps you can take
is to ensure proper water balance and equipment operations. A lot of outbreaks
start with something really simple going wrong, such as a connector hose
breaking on a chemical feeder. Even the best UV system won’t protect against
RWIs if the basics are covered first. This is a micro example of a macro truism
for aquatics: Do the easy things first, or face hard consequences later.
5. I will get the education I need. Running an aquatics facility is a complicated job. There’s chemistry, customer service, staffing,
repair and a whole lot of creativity needed. Fortunately, there’s lots of
education available, including this publication and online offerings such as
our Reinventing Aquatics educational event. But none of it does any good,
unless you use it. Every operator needs to know about things such as CYA, TDS
and DBPs. They need to be trained on how to properly run and service equipment.
And every operator should be certified in one of the many operator training
programs available. They should also make sure that staff get the best,
most-up-to-date training possible. Finally, every person responsible for water
quality management from lifeguards to managers, should be certified operators.