Must-Haves for an Exceptional Aquatics Center

Making a splash with your aquatic center doesn’t have to be difficult.

With four pools and two hot tubs, Chris Seris, the assistant director for aquatics at the University of Missouri’s Mizzou Aquatic Center, said that’s one reason why his center is exceptional.

“Having multiple aquatic facilities allows us to provide many specific benefits to students and other members of the facility,” said Seris. These include leisure, competitive training, a variety of pool environments — for example, cool air and water for high intensity training — and meeting and classroom space. Plus, as part of MizzouRec, the Mizzou Aquatic Center employs nearly 100 students.

On top of being able to offer so many opportunities for students, Seris brought up that the staff, aggressive maintenance and value of service provided also add to the center’s exceptional status.

But where can a facility start when it comes to building up a brilliant aquatics center? Seris listed 11 must-haves he sees as necessary for your aquatics facility:

  • Lap Lanes: “Large percentages of the population want to be able to come in and get a swim.”
  • Shallow and deep water: “If a facility only has shallow or deep water, it can be limited in the offerings it can provide in terms of programming.”
  • Leisure pool space: “Some want to simply relax in a pool or hot tub, or even study in a warm, calm space without many distractions.”
  • Instructional space: “Consideration must be given to the types of classes a department might want to program and the facility requirements for them.” For example, Seris mentioned that different space needs exist from classes like lifeguarding to water fitness to competitive practices.
  • Standard and creative aquatic programming: “Programming should meet the needs of students while also looking to inspire increased use of the center.”
  • Storage space: “A facility with enough storage space to clear a deck of all equipment not in use looks cleaner and less cluttered.”
  • Excellent air quality: “Poor air quality will lead to issues with equipment and health of the patrons and staff.”
  • Facility requirements for competitions: “Consideration must be given to the facility requirements for the various governing bodies which you would seek to attract to your facility for events.” This includes everything from pool depth to a timing system.
  • Conscientious and motivated staff: “An excellent facility can easily fall into disrepair and neglect unless the management and staff remain committed to maintaining a facility through aggressive preventive maintenance and regular maintenance.”
  • Aggressive risk management training: “If operators can prevent, anticipate and train for, and respond efficiently and effectively to those occurrences, [then] loss, damage and injury can be minimized in many circumstances.”
  • Outdoor pool: “If climate and weather permit, spending time outdoors in or around a pool continues to be a very popular activity for students.”

Of course, these are just Seris’ must-haves. He made sure to point out that what makes an aquatics facility exceptional will vary throughout the country. In order to figure out how to raise the level, Seris said leaders will need to dive deep into their campus’ community.

“Aggressively assessing members for their wants and needs on a regular basis, as well as presenting the members with new opportunities they may not know about, will give someone a good picture of how to be exceptional,” said Seris. “Taking that information and implementing it successfully will help make you exceptional.”

Heather Hartmann
Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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