At Nova Southeastern University, 1.6 million gallons of water exist on campus.
“How do we effectively manage all of that?” asked Austin Harris, the assistant director of aquatics. “You have to have some good systems in place to be effective and reduce cost.”
When it comes to technology aquatics trends, he is analyzing them through those lenses: will the trends be effective and will they reduce costs?
And he’s not alone. Jason Hilton, the associate director of recreation and wellness at Morehead State University, noted the changes technology has brought to the world of aquatics have benefitted their pools. Lifeguards report pool issues faster, reports are tracked and stored in an organized manner, and maintenance can access the reports, meaning they no longer have to wait for the pool manager to give them the information.
All in all, technology trends in the realm of aquatics are happening whether you like it or not. Four schools offer their technology uses, what they’ve noticed in trends, and more in the areas of pool operations, and programming and systems.
Pool Operations: Harris said Nova has spared no expense in terms of pool technology. They have automated controllers able to control the entire pool system, like PH levels, filter pressure, flow rates, etc.; they use variable frequency drives on pumps to allow for adjustment of water circulation; and greener chemicals – i.e. instead of a DE filtration system they use cellulous fiber to cut down on maintenance time and handling hazardous material.
And a lot of companies make the above happen: Commercial Energy Specialist, Leslie Pool Supply, Horner Express, etc.
Programming and Systems: At Nova, Harris said they use When to Work scheduling software, which allows for lifeguards to trade and pick up shifts. The department also utilizes Marketplace uPay to schedule classes, assess payment, help with points of sale, etc.
What’s Trending? Harris noted UV systems, alternatives for disinfection, non-chlorine oxidizers and phosphate removers are all trends he’s noticed.
Programming and Systems: Digital technology is a large part of technology used in aquatics. Cleverley said they share lane availability on the website — and QR codes can take you directly to that page.
Member feedback surveys are also valuable. She uses Google forms and Survey Monkey to get the job done.
On the back end, SubItUp is used for scheduling and GroupMe as the main form of communication with student employees. Cleverley did say in the upcoming year they will start using Connect2Concepts for reports and forms. “We are very excited to get all of our documents and everything the student supervisors need in one place,” she explained. “Our hope is it will be easier for our student employees to find and utilize on a daily basis.”
What’s Trending? “Other aquatics departments should keep their eye on energy efficient pool filters and new lower chemical disinfection technology,” said Cleverley. “I think the lower chemical pools they are, the more health conscious, environmentally friendly and a better user experience.”
Cleverley also has noticed a trend in lifeguard training: light up manikins. “They show the compression rate and depth for CPR,” she said. “This gives your staff a visible aspect of the training and they actually see the ‘blood’ pumping during CPR.”
Pool Operations: Morehead’s pool utilizes Neptune Bensons Defender Filtration systems, as well as UV light, to keep its water clean.
“By having a solid filtration system, we are able to provide a cleaner environment for our patrons,” said Hilton. “Additionally, the lower chemical use provides a less harsh environment for our facility and deck equipment. This prolongs the life of many other items on our pool deck and reduces our annual operating costs.”
That, said Hilton, is key in aquatics technology, especially when it’s automated. Ultimately, what will reduce operating costs while improving efficiencies? “By investing in technology, you can prolong the life of your equipment and maintenance,” he said. “Additionally, your organization can be proactive to reduce further downtime or operational efficiencies.”
Programming and Systems: Hilton uses Connect2Concepts for his staff. It keeps track of tasks, chemical logs, report submission, etc. He is able to stay up-to-date on any issues that arise.
What’s Trending? Automation in pools and online chemical tracking systems.
Pool Operations: Kifle said the industry standard for monitoring chemicals is the BECSys software. On top of having that in place, the two pools also use CO2 to keep pH levels down; chlorine via Accu-Tab; a UV light system; variable frequency drives that have proven to be most valuable when performing backwashes; and solar panels and the university steam supply to heat the pools.
The biggest benefit from technology has been consistency for Kifle. “Because of the technology we use, our pool conditions, chemical levels, testing equipment and temperature are consistent throughout the year,” he said. “Given that our pools are not the newest, the technology we use to operate the pools has been our biggest champion.”
What’s Trending? One trend Kifle noted is the addition of water enzymes into pools to reduce the chlorine smell and helps the chlorine supply last longer. Also, he is seeing different options for pool filtration systems arise.