Whether your campus has one or multiple pools, managing all of the programming at the aquatic center takes extreme organization. Coordinating who gets to use the pool when and communicating that clearly is essential to your patron’s satisfaction.
The University of Iowa manages two different aquatic facilities. The Field House operates a 50-yard pool and the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center houses three additional bodies of water — a 50-meter competition pool, a 58-foot diving well and an indoor leisure pool featuring zero-depth entry, a lazy river, swirling vortex, bouldering wall, lap lanes and a hot tub.
Throughout the numerous facilities, programming includes lap swim, swim lessons, certification classes, water aerobics classes, scuba classes and more. “Coordinating pool scheduling and avoiding scheduling conflicts between the university swimming and diving team, swim club, open rec and other user groups can be a challenge,” said Phil Julson, the associate director for aquatics at the University of Iowa.
Balancing and meeting the needs of a wide variety of facility users is no easy task. “Sometimes these needs are in conflict,” explained Julson. “For example, pool temperature, pool configurations, which pools are available to which groups when and the amount of space available for each user group.”
To stay on top of scheduling Julson does not use a software, but he said it would be a welcome option. Instead, they currently use Microsoft Outlook Calendars. “We try to make our program and user schedules as consistent as possible by dividing pool time up into blocks that are available to each group,” he explained. “We also have a priority document that lists which groups have priority in each space and what time that priority is given. There is flexibility within those times, but they are a fall back in case there is an un-resolvable conflict.”
Susanna Leonard, the assistant director of aquatic programs at Rice University, also deals with the difficulties surrounding a packed aquatics schedule. The Recreation Center Aquatics Program at Rice University offers learn-to-swim group classes, private swim lessons, American Red Cross certification courses, specialty classes and various other events.
“We focus on ensuring members are satisfied by offering lap swim during all hours the pools are open,” said Leonard. “With the space and time that is leftover, we rent lanes to local swim teams and other training groups, as well as reserving pools to outside groups for parties of all kinds.”
Leonard uses a color-coded excel document that highlights the timing and the space utilized by the programs throughout the semester to stay organized. “This is displayed in several locations throughout the Aquatic Center as well as the Recreation Center and also on our website,” she added. “For events that come up less frequently, but require facility closures, we are quick to post signs throughout the facility and on the front page of our website.”
The key to staying organized when it comes to your aquatic schedule is communication. It is essential to maintain constant communication with both staff and patrons. “Communicate often with your coworkers to ensure everyone is on the same page about what is happening in the facility and when,” added Leonard. “Weekly meetings and prompt email response is essential. Build strong relationships with the user groups at your facility and also the regular members. This will help avoid upset coaching and potential grumpy lap swimmers when last minute changes occur.”