Labor Day has come and gone and that means your seasonal pools are all probably shuttered for the winter. By now, summer 2010 is becoming a memory. While some operators are looking back fondly, recalling hot weather and crowds, crypto outbreaks and drownings have perhaps left others happy to forget last July and August.
Record-breaking heat did rule the day in many parts of the country, and a number of operators reported larger crowds and increased participation in programs.
There is nothing like a hot summer to help the pool industry,” said Tom Lachocki. Ph.D., CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Over the Labor Day weekend, I went with friends to Glenwood Springs, Colo., natural hot springs/pool. It was very busy with people paying $17 plus to get in. There was a line to get in when we got there and people were waiting to pay to get in three hours later when we were leaving. I suspect this year’s hot weather helped some organizations survive and others even prosper.”
Additional swim lessons were added at the Westover pool in Harrisonburg, Va. In Baltimore, Md., temperatures were so oppressive that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake extended pool hours during a late July heat wave. Crowds cooled off at pools in Arlington, Texas, and the Columbus, Ohio, area as well.
“Our daily attendance increased by 15 percent from 2009,” said John Gloyd, Columbus’ aquatics director. He adds that while the weather did contribute to the increase and temperatures prompted the mayor to extend the pool season by one week, the fact that daily fees were eliminated last year — because of the closure (temporarily) of six community pools — was also likely a factor.
The hot weather meant business was also good at a number of waterparks. Aquatica, Seaworld’s Waterpark, in Orlando, Fla., was forced to shut down for more than two hours when it reached capacity crowds before 1 p.m. Additionally, it was a record-breaking season at the new waterpark at the Sports Com recreation facility in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
“For the most part, what we’ve heard from members is that the 2010 season has been a solid success for them,” said Aleatha Ezra, World Waterpark Association director of park member development. “For many, it has been a bounce-back year for attendance since the weather has been much more conducive for waterparks across most geographical regions with the U.S. and beyond.”
The patrons came this summer, but so did the cryptosporidium. Crypto was reported at recreational water venues in Illinois, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Missouri and Utah. According to reports, by late June the Salt Lake Valley Health Department documented more than 20 confirmed cases, equal to numbers in 2007 when the state reported the largest crypto outbreak on record, connected to recreational water venues.
An outbreak linked to a municipal pool in Belleville sickened at least 10 individuals. according to Melaney Arnold, spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Public Health. The final investigation is not yet completed, but the pool was shut down and the DOH requested that all public pools in three surrounding counties be hyperchlorinated.
“We do normally see an outbreak or two across the state but this one was unexpected,” said Arnold.
Drownings were another reality in 2010. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average, more than 200 children younger than 15 drown in pools or spas between Memorial Day and Labor Day. “The 2010 Pool Safely Summer Snapshot on Pool Safety in the United States” released in early September indicates that at least 172 children younger than 15 have drowned since Memorial Day weekend and there were 180 nonfatal incidents. The data is according to media reports collected nationwide.
“The year 2010 marks a time when government has funded millions of dollars to build awareness about drowning and suction entrapment prevention … The better we in this industry engage to prevent the bad and tout the good, the better society — and our industry — will prosper,” said Lachocki.