For over a decade, our last issue of the year has featured Best of Aquatics, a celebration of special facilities that stand above the rest of the field. It's always been a fun edition to produce, but it's also had drawbacks.
For example, how can anyone really explain, in a limited space, why a particular facility is deserving of special notice? We were always stuck with trying to cover a huge amount of information on a single page. This meant our winners profiles were often just a general overview, which can be fine, but lacks useful specificity for a reader. Exactly why is a Best of Aquatics waterpark special? What can other facilities learn from a community pool that we've recognized?
In addition, some facilities are great in one area and weaker in another. Should they win a Best of Aquatics award? Under our old system, the answer was "no" even if the venue in question was doing amazing work serving the community.
So, this year, we decided to completely redesign the program. Our new concept is more niched, so that instead of presenting overall winners, each recipient is being honored for excellence in a specific category. We tried to shine a light on areas that are competitive, interesting and highly relevant to every facility. The result is ten winners who blew the doors off in one arena. The categories are Overall Programming, Targeted Programming, Community Outreach, Lifeguard Training, Lifeguard Management, Marketing, Energy Efficiency and Theming. We had a couple of ties, and in those cases we gave the same honor to two facilities.
Our new Best of Aquatics isn't perfect. Even as we were getting it ready for publication, I was furiously scribbling a list of improvement for next year. But I do think it's going in the right direction and I'm proud of all of our work.
So take a look and please feel free to share your thoughts. Is there another category you think we should include? Is there additional information you wish we had provided?
And when you're done critiquing, please join me in congratulating this year's wonderful group of winners.