Thousands of aquatics professionals gathered last month at several industry events.

More than 1,500 attended the World Waterpark Symposium, held in San Antonio. The event marked the 30th anniversary of the World Waterpark Association and included networking, targeted education seminars and a trade show floor with more than 200 exhibitors.

Park attendee numbers were up slightly over 2008 and 2009 with a strong showing from first-time attendees, according to the WWA.

“This year’s show also provided a unique opportunity to look back at how we’ve developed as an association and an industry over the last 30 years,” said Rick Root, WWA president.

“Looking back reminds us how quickly the waterpark business has evolved and illustrates the ever-present need for education, training, professional development, product innovation and support,” Root added. “The WWA and our member network offer a vast resource to this unique industry, allowing us to share knowledge and experience and provide the necessary tools to successfully manage future change, face new challenges and drive growth.”

This year’s sponsors included:

Platinum Sponsor – Proslide Technology Inc.

Gold Sponsors – American Locker Security Systems, Aquatic Development Group Inc., Arch Chemicals Inc., WWA Insurance by Haas & Wilkerson and Whitewater West Industries Ltd.

Silver Sponsors – Convergence.net, Launch Logic, Neuman Group/Neuman Pools Inc. and Van Stone Conveyor

Bronze Sponsors – EBA Design,Engineered Treatment Systems and Water Odyssey/Fountain People

At the same time, the seventh annual World Aquatic Health Conference and Aquatic Physical Therapy Summit was held in Colorado Springs, Colo. Attendees participated in six symposia of 42 seminars that addressed topics including the Model Aquatic Health Code, disinfection byproducts and risk management. Visionary Science, Artful Application was the conference theme; and keynotes and events helped illustrate the link between aquatics and society, including science, health, art, athletics, and socio-economic and cultural influences.

“The world does not care about pool chemicals, filters, and such things. People care about their families and their health. The conference spotlighted how each of us can be remarkable in ways that relate to society’s priorities,” explained Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, founding organizer of the WAHC.

Speakers included USA Swimming CEO Chuck Wielgus; motivational speaker Byron Embry, known for his 100 mph fastball, and Jeff Wiltse, associate professor of history, University of Montana.

New this year was an aquatic art exhibition and scientific poster session focusing on a broader canvas of research. There were nine research poster sessions. Attendees were able review the displayed research and speak with the presenters, providing them with a better understanding of the scientific advances in a more intimate environment.

Also in October, 7,000 people gathered in Minneapolis to participate in the National Recreation and Park Association’s 2010 Congress & Exposition. Attendees had access to hundreds of education sessions and a trade show featuring more than 400 exhibitors. Other highlights included a video message from first lady Michelle Obama; NRPA’s annual “Leave It Better” community service project, where volunteers constructed a sawmill-themed playground on the Minneapolis river front; and the 2010 5K for Parks and Recreation, kicked off by Sunshine and O’Neal from NBC’s The Biggest Loser Season 9.

Additionally, keynote speaker Dr. John Crompton, distinguished professor at Texas A&M University, and a team of researchers presented five newly released white papers highlighting scientific evidence of the benefits delivered by parks and recreation.

The papers provide evidence on the impact of parks and recreation in reducing disease; turning the tide on carbon emissions and global warming; building confidence in young people and preventing crimes by and against them; decreasing stress; and increasing overall emotional and physical wellness. The information in the papers, some of which has been quantified for the first time, supports increased funding for parks and recreation.