Having grown up during the Great Depression, Adolph Kiefer knows a thing or two about hard times. But this industry veteran sees it much differently than most.

"[The Depression] led the way to my becoming a world champion swimmer," says Kiefer, founder of Adolph Kiefer & Associates in Zion, Ill.

In the 1930s, swimming in Lake Michigan was free, and with little money to do anything else, that's what Kiefer did. "[Just as it did for me], today's recession might open the way for greater awareness of a basic fundamental sport like swimming," he says.

Kiefer points to several factors he believes will help today's public pools weather the slow economy. "Fundamentally, pools are a matter of health and physical fitness, and swimming is life skill. [Comparatively], it's an inexpensive sport and available to every member of the family," he notes.

Kiefer says it's clear that today's economy has had a devastating impact on the residential pool market, but he believes if public pool operators adjust appropriately, they won't feel the effects as severely. This means becoming more economical in operations.

"We all have to realize that we must make cuts in our budgets and re-evaluate our efforts, but there will still be interest in swimming," he says.

Most important, he says, is a focus on new innovations, continued efforts to promote aquatics and teaching every child to swim.