How can I show my investors that an indoor 50 meter facility can make money by hosting meets?
Most meets can make money with proper advertising and community involvement. However, meets will not solely support a facility, especially one that is larger than 30,000 square feet. Proper community and learn to swim programming can help, but indoor 50 meter pools, especially those in northern latitudes, usually need some sort of operational endowment or subsidy. It will be a real challenge to produce a verifiable business plan that will show an indoor 50 meter facility that will earn a profit.
I want to build a facility that can host National level or World Class meets. What do I need to do?
First ask yourself WHY? Not that these types of facilities aren’t needed, but they are not usually profitable. What are you trying to accomplish? If you are trying to create a worthwhile aquatic center for your community and a place for your local USA Swimming club to train, then a variety of facility plans and designs needs to be considered. One rule of thumb that is of up-most importance is never plan a single pool facility. Regardless of what your goals are, the facility will have to have a variety of water depths and water temperatures with convenient pool access to run successful programs.
I have heard about the new above ground pools like those used at Olympic Trials or the Short Course World Championships. What type of pool should I build?
Programming precedes design. Available funding will also play an important part in this decision making process. The USA Swimming Facilities Department can help. We have contacts with all types of manufacturers and can help you decide not only what you want but what you need.
My city used to operate the pool but it has become so run down that the city going to close it. Don’t municipalities owe their citizens the service of running the local pool?
Before the high cost of utilities, equipment maintenance, and operational supplies, the city’s job was to run the pool in the summer. Times have changed and many of those are no longer functional. They have old style metal piping that is rusting away; the concrete tanks are cracking and the pools are leaking profusely. The city has to repair or renovate the pool, decommission the pool or build a new facility. Which option the city chooses may be determined by the level of involvement and interests of the community members. USA Swimming can assist you with programming and design ideas that will service every member of the community.
The pool we use for team practices is no longer large enough for our growing membership. Can a USA Swimming club afford to build its own pool?
That is only half the question. Can you build and operate your own pool? Many times the capital campaign to raise funds to build the pool is easier than creating enough annual revenue to operate the pool once it is built. In general the answer is resounding YES, a club or coach can own and operate its own facility. Using the principle programming precedes design, the properly sized facility needs to be planned. Competitive swimming will not pay all of the bills. Community programming, learn to swim, rehab programs and other services need to be considered. If competitive swimming is all that you are interested in, stay in the “rent water” business and out of the “own water” business.
We have a local health club that wants to build a pool for its membership. How do we approach the club to ask if it is interested in making the pool large enough for our swim team to use?
Partnerships with heath clubs and medical entities are good ideas for USA Swimming swim clubs as long as proper time is taken to discuss how both organizations will work together. Many times the health clubs are looking to outsource the responsibility of pool operation. The health club wants a clean, properly maintained pool for its membership. The USA Swimming club can provide this service plus operate additional programs that do not conflict with the health club. Contract negotiations are extremely important for this type of partnership.
Our city pool charges $5.00 a day for access or $75.00 for a season pass. Our council has been talking about a new facility with water slides and a lazy river with a spray pool. The project is estimated to cost over $5 million. Our town has only 32,000 people. That means that every person in our city would have to buy a 2 season pass for the pool to be paid for. How does this make sense?
One of the things publicly owned and operated pools have to deal with is fee structures and income predictions. Access fees are only part of the equation. The other income generating options could be swim lessons, pool rental for parties and meets, pool rental for swim team practices, community exercise and rehab programs. These programs must have fees per program that are commensurate with the level of staffing expertise required to conduct the program. The daily or seasonal access fees should not be the major income generator when looking at the overall budget. One thing we want to make sure of is that there is a competitive pool in the new design.
Our city would love to have a pool. We have formed a focus group to research this possibility. Where do we start?
If there is an existing USA Swimming club in your area we would suggest talking to the leadership to see how you can help each other. If the USA Swimming club becomes involved, the Facilities Development Department of USA Swimming can offer programming and design consultation and put you in contact with some of the best manufacturers and builders in the country. If you do not have a USA Swimming club in your area, our Sport Consultants can work with you to help in the formation of a new club. We also have some very helpful information that we can e-mail to get you started doing things in the proper order. Additionally USA Swimming hosts an annual “Build-a-Pool” conference and regional workshops are planned for the future. Check this web site for more information.
Does USA Swimming have any grants to help build or renovate a pool?
Not at this time. However, many local clubs have resources in the community they are not aware of. Since swimming is one of the healthiest lifestyle activities and also addresses drowning and childhood obesity issues, many local companies and organizations are willing to listen to your presentation and consider assistance. Once again, this is where total aquatic programming and a variety of services will help your cause. USA Swimming has an Aquatic Programs Specialist on staff to assist you with this type of plan and presentation.
We are in a rural area that cannot support a large aquatic facility. What would you consider the ideal facility for an area such as ours?
Much depends on the actual population located within a 20 minute drive of your proposed site. Rule of thumb is that you have to have at least 30,000 people to make a stand alone aquatic facility successful. With that said, there are some existing successful exceptions. If you have 5,000 people who will all support the facility, one can be designed. Ideally 3 pools, all on separate filtering and heating systems, should be planned.
- Pool #1: The first pool should be 25 yards long by at least 42 feet wide. A wider pool allows more lanes for programming. There should be a side stair entry or even a ramp. Water depth should be 4’ at the shallowest end and 5’ at the deepest end to accommodate starting blocks. This pool should be kept at around 82 degrees. The focus will be on lap swimming and some high intensity vertical aerobic exercise. It will be the primary pool for competitive swim training by swim team, masters and tri-athletes.
- Pool #2: The second pool should be 25 yards long by at least 24 feet wide. There should be a side ramped entry that is not included in the 24 feet of width. Water depth should be 42” at ramped entry base to 52” at the deepest part. This pool should be kept around 88 degrees. This pool will focus on swim lessons, water walking, vertical flexibility and relaxation training.
- Pool #3: The third pool should be 40 feet long by at least 20 feet wide. There should be both a side stair and side ramped entry designed. Water depth should be 36” at the base of the ramp quickly graduating to 48” for 30 feet of the length of the pool. The remaining 10 feet of the length should be 7 feet deep. There should be special water flow jets for hydrotherapy effects. This pool should be kept at around 90 degrees. The focus will be on aquatic rehab and therapy, special needs lessons and water disciplines that have a very low activity level.
In addition the facility should have adequate dressing and shower areas including at least two dressing/shower rooms. Offices, viewing area, meeting rooms, vending areas and dry land exercise areas should also be included. Retail rental spaces can also be considered. The minimum size for such a facility is 21,000 square feet. It can of course be designed to 30,000 square feet to include more features.
Why can’t USA Swimming or our LSC build a pool where we can have championship meets?
There are a host of reasons. First and foremost, meets do not pay for the operational cost of a facility during the week. Even the high dollar rental fees for the weekend do not really cover all of the cost for the days used. Also, the LSC or USA Swimming cannot be in the aquatic management and programming business and at the same time continue to deliver existing services. These service organizations are just not equipped or staffed for this monumental task.
We simply can’t afford an indoor 50 meter pool let alone 2 or 3 pools. We are in a relatively mild climate but can only use the outdoor pool 8 months a year. How can we keep our team solvent for the other 4 months?
One of the answers is a year round learn to swim program coupled with community programming. Consider building an indoor 25 yard pool with a smaller indoor community pool alongside. Next to the indoor facility plan for an outdoor 50 meter pool to be built when the indoor programming shows a profit. Later the 50 meter pool could be covered with a retractable or permanent building so it also could also be used 12 months a year.
How much does it cost to build a pool?
That’s like asking how much it costs to build a house. There are literally hundreds of variables that have to be taken into consideration before a ballpark estimate can be given. The USA Swimming Facilities Development Department can help you answer this question after spending some time talking with you and collecting information. Contact Mick Nelson for more information.