After receiving more aquatic job notices last fall than during any other 60-day period since 2002, you'd think Lee Yarger, coordinator of aquatic degree programs at Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., would be the first to say there's no slowdown in the aquatics industry.

But he's not ready to place any bets on the economic future just yet. Given the uncertainty over what's to come, Yarger advises all operators to be prepared for belt tightening. "Aquatics is looked at as recreational, and as such it's a quick avenue to cut," he says.

Yarger suggests being proactive by conducting a SWOT analysis. This strategic planning tool is one way to effectively consider strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and find ways to save. For example, if you determine that high chemical costs are a weakness, you might buy products at a larger bulk rate to offset shipping costs. And if fewer people are using your facility, that's an opportunity to plan for the fact that chemical usage may be dramatically reduced.

With less funding, it's more important than ever to review your water sanitization policies to ensure that you and your staff are diligently fulfilling all best-practice protocols, Yarger adds. This might mean something as simple as stricter enforcement of showering policies or deck cleaning.

A cleaner facility will ensure optimum water clarity, which may mean reduced chemical expenses. Equally important, superior sanitization will help prevent the spread of recreational water illnesses, a physical and emotional cost that no one wants to bear.