Aquatic Must-Haves


Students are vocal. This is a great fact for aquatic directors looking to boast appealing features in their aquatics facilities. If students like something, they’ll make it known. If they don’t, you’ll be aware that a different route may need to be taken.

We spoke with a few recreation professionals who highlight various must-have aquatic features that students clamor for.

Frances Caron, the assistant director of recreation for the aquatics program at University of California (UC) Riverside, explained that the aquatic center’s current channel is an absolute must-have for the facility. “The design came from two sides — it’s fun and relaxing with inner tubes, and then [there is] also the ability to use it for fitness and with our athletes, because we are a NCAA Division 1 school,” explained Caron. “We do turn it off at times, and the first thing that’s asked is: Why is this not on? The students just really like it.”

At Colorado State University (CSU), a rock-climbing wall in the aquatic center has the biggest ‘wow’ factor. A waterfall flows out over the wall, so patrons can boulder behind the stream.

Colorado State University

“When admissions tours go through our building, it is one of the features that gets noticed the most,” said Erin Patchett, the director of facilities and aquatics at CSU. However, not all must-have aquatic features are so unique. Sometimes, things as simple as space for both leisure and competition are essential to ensuring students stay satisfied with what an aquatic facility has to offer.

“Our Student Recreation Center pool is one of three on campus, but is the only one our members have drop-in access to use,” said Patchett. “As a result, having lap lanes in our pool is vital for our patrons wanting to workout in an aquatic environment. On the other hand, not everyone likes aquatic training, or is able to swim laps, so having the leisure features in our pool is a great way to invite a larger population of our members into the space.”

For Drake Edwards, an aquatics graduate assistant at Indiana University, space is a feature that has proved to be a must. The aquatic center features a 23-lane, 25-yard lap pool, leaving the school with plenty of a room for a variety of programs and activities, including log rolling. “We really just want to be in the water, engaging with our participants as much as we can,” he said.

If your pool doesn’t boast a climbing wall, current channel or waterfall, don’t despair. It doesn’t automatically mean students will be displeased with the facility. According to Kellen Edelbrock, the assistant director of aquatics operations at Indiana University, being creative with the features and space you do have is key.

“I think no matter what size your pool is, get creative,” said Edelbrock. “Take a look at what your limitations are. It might be a space issue or time constraints, but see what you have and start from there, and really focus on getting creative with it, seeing what your students want and getting their feedback. If you have to remove lane lines to do a program, if you have the resources to do it, why not try it and just see how it goes?”

Check out the facilities at UC Riverside 

Rachel is the Editor and Chief of Peake Media. She can be reached at

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