I’ve written a lot of columns in my nearly 10 years as editor of Aquatics International. But this one is the most difficult. This is the one where I say goodbye to a magazine I’ve come to love like a child and a group of professionals I’ve gotten to know like family.

This is the last issue of the magazine in which my name will appear on the masthead as editor. And, as with so many goodbyes, this one is bittersweet. The bitter part is knowing how much I will miss putting together the pages of this magazine — pages that so many of you have told me over the years matter so much; pages that you cut out and share with your staff; pages you read when it comes in the mail before any other publication; pages in which I hope we have helped to make a positive difference in the industry and in your day-to-day professional lives. Without question, serving as editor of Aquatics International has been the pinnacle of my journalistic career. And I thank you all for your support and encouragement throughout the years.

What’s the sweet part in all this? That’s where I say “hello” to you in my new role as interactive director for Aquatics International and our sister publication, Pool & Spa News, which focuses on the residential side of the aquatics market. In the simplest terms, I’ll be handling all of the online initiatives of both magazines — e-newsletters, Web sites, social networks, virtual conferences and whatever else the brave new world of digital media brings. Stepping into my former role will be Erika Taylor, who is now editor in chief of both magazines. I’ve worked with Erika for more than 10 years and I’m confident that you’ll come to respect her the same way I do. She and her staff now will take over the magazine, and I’m excited about the ideas and energy they’re bringing to the publication. Watch for those to start taking shape in 2013.

Along with my departure as editor, I regret to announce that Kendra Kozen, the magazine’s award-winning senior editor, also will no longer be part of the magazine. Like me, Kendra is taking on new online duties as part of Hanley Wood’s Radar Desk. There, she’ll be producing a new line up of e-newsletters, including two new offerings from Aquatics International that will be premiering soon, one to give professionals a bigger voice and the other to cover the dynamic waterpark and resort market.

But even though Kendra and I will no longer be working on the print magazine, we’ll still be actively involved with it — and with you. For my part, I’ll still be writing the provocative, challenging and sometimes irksome columns you’ve come to know and, I hope, love. You’ll just find them online instead of in print. For those of you who have been following my tweets @aquaticsintl, I invite you to also follow my new Twitter handle, @gary_thill, where I’ll also be sending out my 140-character reports of the day. You can follow Kendra @kendrafree. Whether it’s on Twitter, AI Connect, our Aquatics International Linkedin group, Facebook or Google Plus, I hope you’ll take the time to connect with us and your peers online.

Really, there are two ways to look at the changes happening. You can think of it as “good-bye.” Or you can think of the way I am: This is really “hello.”

  • Save Yourself
  • Now, more than ever, operators must be advocates (even agitators) for aquatics.

  • Do You Matter?
  • Aquatics facilities are complicated. They must have operators who are familiar with every aspect of the equipment that runs them.

  • End the Cliffhangers
  • Aquatics professionals need to be asking a different question than what’s up with the fed’s timing. The question you should be asking is, why does this keep happening? And how can we make it stop?

  • Access for All
  • The industry can’t afford to ignore ADA. Want a good reason? I’ll give you 54 million.