One of the trickiest things about journalism is the off-the-record conversation. For those who haven’t committed “All the King’s Men” to memory, “off the record” means someone wants to tell you something, but they don’t want their name associated with it, and it’s not for publication.
As editor of this magazine, I’ve had more than my share of such conversations, and I’ve always kept my word. Often, however, the off-the-record conversation is more of a gray area, something that’s never really said, but understood. In these situations, I err on the side of caution and confidentiality.
But I often walk away thinking it would be better for the industry if these conversations were out in the open, on the record, if someone had the guts to say in public what they say in private.
So with the new swim season at hand, I’ve decided to do just that with a list of things you should do this season that no one seems willing to say, but someone should.
Require naked,soapy showers. Showering in a bathing suit is not enough if you really want to battle RWIs, especially crypto. Naked, soapy showers are the first and most logical defense against pathogens, yet almost no one seems willing to require them. Is our squeamishness over our bodies really worth the risk of an outbreak? Educating your patrons about their role in preventing RWIs is the best way to encourage such behavior.
Start making some money. The days of municipal facilities operating at a loss are fast becoming a thing of the past, especially in these difficult economic times. Operators need to run their facilities like businesses and show their municipalities why they’re a line item that should not be cut. That means operating with a competitive spirit, and even raising admission prices. Remember, with the increasing number of private waterpark resorts and swim clubs, the municipal facility is not the only game in town anymore.
Get certified, or get out. If you manage or supervise a body of water, there’s no excuse for not being certified. Options for certification are plentiful and research proves that certified operators run cleaner, healthier, safer facilities. You don’t operate in a vacuum; everything you do reflects upon the rest of the industry. If you don’t have the pride in yourself and your profession to take the time for certification, you should find another line of work.
Rethink your reliance on chlorine. With crypto rates climbing every year and new evidence showing that it’s more resistant to chlorine than previously thought (see news story about new CDC fecal response guidelines), operators must accept that chlorine alone is no longer enough. Research is ongoing, but UV has proven itself a capable supplement to chlorine. Ozone is another option. Practices such as adding fresh water daily, as Europeans do, also bear consideration.
Go green, or else. This isn’t just a tree-hugging imperative. It’s a matter of survival. In nearly every issue this year, we’ve carried stories about how drought is affecting aquatics facilities. Like it or not, the public sees aquatics as a waste of water. With energy prices soaring, they’re sure to soon see them as a waste of resources as well. Operators must get ahead of the curve on this trend and start implementing green technology that makes facilities as efficient as possible. That will get the public on our side, and save a bundle to boot. You may not save the world, but you might just save your job.