Well-being is not a “one size fits all” sort of thing. So, it’s important to look at how to bring it into every area of your rec center, including your pool.
At Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colorado, it’s about the programs and services offered every day. TJ Hill, the assistant director of facilities and aquatics, said they bring wellness into aquatics by making the pool space welcoming to all.
And being such an adaptable method of exercise, it’s also about making sure not to limit students accessing the pool’s wellness benefits by having too many technical swimming ability programs, like underwater hockey or inner tube water polo.
“The aquatics spaces can be very therapeutic but also intimidating for some students,” said Hill. “Sometimes students want to come to aquatics spaces to sit in a sauna and spa, chat with their friends, or decompress from the stresses of student life. We need to value and honor that as well.”
Providing well-being aquatics opportunities for a variety of populations also rings true at Utah State University (USU) in Logan, Utah. Cassidy Hadden, the coordinator of aquatics and safety, said they offer everything from lap swims and American Red Cross safety courses to classes like kayaking and hosting local youth groups or summer camps. “Every time someone is able to use our space is a win for us because we understand the potential being in the water has for every individual,” said Hadden.
Well-being is specifically applied to three categories in the USU aquatics program: opportunities to be in the water, developing new skills and transferrable experience with student staff. Specific offerings include water aerobics, standup paddle board yoga, a March Madness pool watch party and a Lazyman Triathlon — participants join a month-long fitness event to complete the same mileage as an Ironman Triathlon.
“Aquatics can play a vital role in students’ wellness because it offers a unique opportunity to provide safe, fun and effective programming that directly impacts a student’s overall wellness,” said Emmy Richards, the assistant director of fitness, wellness and aquatics at USU. “Participation in aquatics can impact other dimensions, especially emotional and social well-being. Aquatics exercises can be accessible to everyone, and positive experiences in the water can boost mental health, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and much more.”
Well-being offerings via aquatics varies from campus to campus. To figure out where to start, Hill said it begins with asking why you’re offering a program or event. It’s then being open to changing or modifying in order to better serve your student population, helping them on their journey toward a better balanced life.
“If we can program for those students and give them a place they feel welcomed, safe and comfortable, I feel like we can create a lifelong passion for our students in Recreation and Wellness within the aquatics spaces,” said Hill.