It is my sincere hope that at least one major advance will involve a modification of lifeguard training regimens, in accordance with solid scientific evidence and research as opposed to the current reliance on past practice, trial and error, opinion, junk science and marketing strategies to the ultimate benefit of those whose lives depend upon the effectiveness of lifeguards. We need to accept the reality that there is a staggering void of real research on lifeguard practice and drowning prevention methods, despite assertions by various training organizations to the contrary. We can do better, and I am optimistic that we will.

B. Chris Brewster, president, United States Lifesaving Association

Here is my list of the biggest developments/changes/ advances that [need] to happen in the aquatics field in the next 20 years to ensure prosperity:

  • Drowning incidents [must be] reduced from 800 to 200 per year in the United States because the aquatics industry will not prosper with high drowning rates.
  • Threefold more swimmers/soakers [must be] using pools and hot tubs to benefit their health because the nation can?t afford health care for an aging and sedentary society.
  • Physicians will prescribe and insurance companies will reimburse for hot tubs and aquatic exercise because the preponderance of scholarly publications demonstrates water heals.
  • Most public pools will continuously monitor pathogens and interface to treatment systems to inactivate them. because companies will make a fortune if they can do this at a reasonable price.
  • Fifty states have adopted a model aquatic health code because our current inconsistency in codes is wasteful and foolish.
  • Everyone who operates/services a pool would have verifiable and effective education because ignorance is no way to create prosperity.
  • The aquatics industry is viewed as one of the keys to improved public health because the world needs what we have. We just have to help them see it.

Thomas M. Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO, National Swimming Pool Foundation

In my optimistic opinion, I believe we will stop transporting chlorine to swimming pools and either produce it on site, or develop a combination of alternative disinfectants and oxidizers. Since 9/11, chlorine has become more of problem to store and transport, and it is high on the list of Homeland Security to control. I think technologies will become more accepted for drowning detection and prevention because we have proven that humans are not perfect [when it comes to scanning] and without drowning detection technologies, we will continue to have too many drownings and/or be blamed for pool deaths that are mislabeled as drownings.

Tom Griffiths, director of the Aquatics and Safety Office for Athletics at Penn State University, State College, Pa., and founder, Aquatics Safety Research Group

We will see automation of pool operation, water quality/water testing and adjustment, lifeguarding/drowning detection. [Pools will become] more energy efficient, reliable and consistent.

Alison Osinski, Ph.D., Aquatic Consulting Services

Regarding future and developing aquatic risk management issues, [I expect we?ll see] increased mandatory use of AEDs, imposed by states and state pool codes; [continued] facility design challenges ? which will also require higher technical skill levels of maintenance staff; and lifeguard vision testing.

Kevin Hoffman, ARM, director of member services, Park District Risk Management Agency

Looking forward 20 years, I would love to spend time speculating on the ?sexy? stuff in our industry, such as moving water, extreme rides and automated operating systems, but I think that our biggest challenges ahead are more ?guest? related. Will future generations in our large cities learn how to swim? Have our ?aquatic play environments? helped accelerate that loss of focus and funding for aquatic education? Which technologies can help keep our guests safe in the water? Will that technology help us to recruit and retain employees? In a multilingual society, how will we communicate with our guests, [everything] from safety rules to snack-bar menus? The advancements and technologies that meet these questions are the ones that I look forward to as an operator, manager and aging mermaid.

Judith Leblein Josephs CPRP, Judith Leblein Josephs Enterprises, LLC

Among the biggest developments that will affect the aquatics industry in the next 20 years will be a growing dependence upon technology to make our pools healthier, more energy-efficient and safer for all swimmers. As technology upgrades make their way into pump rooms across the country, we will see ?hand-fed? chemical adjustments (particularly pH and chlorine) become a thing of the past. With the inclusion of alternative sanitizers that can better mitigate the risks of recreational water illnesses, we will see a reduction in chlorine use at the local level. As technology advances and prices continue to drop, we may very well see drowning detection systems that assist lifeguards in identifying potential emergencies beneath the surface of the water become commonplace.

Shawn P. DeRosa, JD, DeRosa Aquatic Consulting

I personally think there are three things that will affect the aquatics industry in the future:

1. The continued growth of sprayparks and other zero-depth attractions.

2. New technologies that will help prevent drowning and injury at aquatics facilities in addition to assisting lifeguards in their surveillance duties. The Poseidon system is a start, but I believe there is more to come.

3. A revisiting of aquatics directors in taking the reins of their own programs and installing lifeguards with a sense of professionalism. This has potential impact in staffing costs, recruitment and training/education.

Mike Espino, Aquatics Safety and Risk Specialist, Membership and Program Resources, YMCA of the USA

I foresee two major changes in the next 20 years:

1. How the swimming community is making a difference in water safety awareness. We already see, more than ever, organizations working together on this effort. I also believe we will see swimming communities taking a more diverse approach in making everyone aware of the importance of learning how to swim. USA Swimming would like to see every child know how to swim by the third grade.

2. There will be more pools designed to offer programs in Total Aquatic Programming using the 4 Aquatic Pillars as the standard. The 4 Aquatic Pillars are learn-to-swim, aquatic exercise, aquatic therapy and rehab, and competitive/community programming. This all-encompassing programming will greatly assist an aquatics center to be self-sustaining.

Sue Nelson, Aquatic Program Specialist, USA Swimming

In the next 20 years we?ll see online tracking of rescue data and aquatic incident statistics shared across all organizations. Currently, there is a lack of accurate aquatic incident statistics. Some national organizations track data, but do not share it; others don?t track incidents at all. If we are to move to evidence-based protocols, there will be a need for a resource to collect rescue data.

Jill White, Division Director, Human Kinetics Aquatic and Emergency Care Education