Last year, I went out on a limb and made predictions
about important trends that would shape 2011 for aquatics.
To my surprise, the five trends I named — ADA,
MAHC, VGB, air quality and credit — all did come
to impact 2011.
So for 2012, I’m once again going to make some
predictions. Here are four trends that will shape 2012:
1. ADA noncompliance. Well, the
industry has had more than a year to get ready for the
coming deadline to comply with the ADA guidelines law. In
case this is news to you, that deadline is March 15.
Based on what I’m hearing out there, too many
facility operators and owners haven’t taken this
deadline seriously. Others, burned by the likes of VGBA,
are taking a wait-and-see approach, expecting a government
agency to change the rule, or reinterpret it.
That’s understandable, but do so at your own
risk. The most likely teeth to this law will be lawsuits
from patrons who aren’t able to have the access
the law guarantees.
2. Rising training costs. For years,
the aquatics industry has gotten off cheaply when it comes
to training, thanks mostly to the largess of the American
Red Cross. But the organization has made it abundantly
clear that those days are over, implementing steep price
increases to most of its core approved provider fees.
That created an uproar and a minirevolt of professionals
saying they will contract with competing training
providers. With new Red Cross lifeguard training programs
rolling out — and the reality of those price
increases coming to roost — expect the clamor to
But as those jumping ship from the Red Cross are
discovering, when it comes to training, the price tag is
going up no matter where you turn. With budgets still
drum-tight, expect some conflict between keeping facilities
operating and maintaining staff training.
3. Improving economy. I know, I know.
How many years have we been hearing about how the economy
is expected to get better? But based on what I’ve
been hearing from operators and manufacturers at trade
shows this year, I believe that 2012 is finally the year in
which aquatics begins to pull itself out of the economic
rut it’s been stuck in for at least three
The one caveat: Expect public budgets that are tight now
to remain so for at least another year.
4. MAHC adoption. The whole point of
the Model Aquatic Health Code was to create a set of best
practice guidelines that local governments could adopt. Now
that all or nearly all of the modules are out for comment
and being finalized, expect the first MAHC adoption in
Will it go smoothly? Not likely. That’s largely
because the ambitious MAHC project has not done a very good
job of seeking and getting operator feedback.
Fortunately, the MAHC also was designed to be a living
document, meaning it can be amended as needed. Still, it
would be a smart move to review the MAHC modules and
provide input now.