Out-Of-The-Box Pool Programming


While the facility is just shy of its one-year anniversary, North Dakota State University (NDSU) dove straight into unique programming for their aquatic facility. Ryan MacMaster, the aquatics coordinator at NDSU, said he worked directly with fitness coordinator Krista Gooris to choose what classes the facility should offer.

“How we chose what classes we were going to offer was a collaboration between her and I, after looking at the current trends in collegiate aquatics,” said MacMaster. “It’s important to have programs that are interesting and relevant to the current generation attending NDSU.”

It seems as though the facility successfully embodied those ideas in their programming, as MacMaster said the annual student and member survey had nothing but positive remarks on the facility’s GroupFit classes, which include: Hydro Power, a class that works to improve your cardio conditioning, muscular strength and endurance; Swim Strong, a lap swim workout to help improve a participant’s fitness level, technique and stroke; and Deep Water Hydro, a workout where 80 percent (or more) of your body is submerged in water, challenging your core without putting stress on your joints.

While those GroupFit classes are free for members, there are additional classes that are fee-based offerings, including: Paddle Board Yoga and BOGAFit (classes are on the same paddleboards that are used for paddleboard yoga, except instead of yoga, participants are doing high-intensity exercise, like pushups, squat jumps and medicine ball tosses); and recreation/intramural programs such as Canoe Battleship and Inner Tube Water Polo.

MacMaster said that Swim Strong, Hydro Power, Paddle Board Yoga and Canoe Battleship are some of the most popular offerings in the facility. “We have three or four canoes in a pool at a time; there are three people per canoe,” he explained. “Each participant gets a five-gallon pail, and their goal is to sink the other team’s canoes first. The last canoe still floating is the winner of that round. Every two minutes we shrink the playing area smaller. This event [with 18 teams] lasts around three to four hours. Most of the participants wait for their team’s turn by hanging out in the leisure pool, playing volleyball or basketball, or relaxing in the hot tub.”

The facility has also seen success in hosting events including movie nights, where they project a movie such as “Jaws” on a large screen; and “Night Swim,” which is when the facility turns off all overhead lighting and only runs the underwater LED lights along with lighting a fire pit on the leisure pool deck. According to MacMaster, “Night Swim” is the busiest the pool gets. The program runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

“We create a very unique and relaxing swim environment for our patrons,” said MacMaster. “We have extra lifeguards on duty to make sure everyone is safe.”

While the facility has successfully reached its goal of programming for its audience, it can also take pride in being the cleanest aquatics facility in their region. MacMaster said maintaining the aquatic facility is a team effort between him, the full-time pool operator, the aquatic custodian and the student lifeguard staff.

“It’s the little touches, like making sure all the stainless steel railings and all the windows are being cleaned or polished every day,” explained MacMaster. “The pool decks are scrubbed multiple times a day in our downtime, along with each pool bottom getting vacuumed every day. Paying attention to the small details is what separates us from other facilities and programs.”

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