I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated our Dream Designs program more than I have this year.

Don’t get me wrong: Each roster of honorees has generated joy by providing a close-up look at the best work the aquatics industry has produced (as I have gushed on these pages.) But, given the trials and tribulations that this year has brought, this year it has provided an especially welcome relief. Not only did it remind me what makes this industry so great — innovation, creativity and an intense dedication to the aquatics mission. It also reminded me of the bright spots that shine out there and what we have to look forward to when we’re firing on all cylinders again.

As always, our honorees have represented us well. We have designers who found ways to keep their outdoor pools open during frigid winters. For our indoor facilities, we see the elimination of sterile environments and, in their place, striking roof lines and ceiling beams that evoke the long curve of a good wave. And, as always, there are bright colors and joyous theming schemes that make you hear children laughing.

It makes sense to honor design in times like these. We all know the emotional and psychological impact that beauty, color and a well proportioned space can have. Has there been a time when those benefits are more needed?

Not only that, but well-done design helps us stay safer. I suspect we will be hearing more about this, as aquatics designers respond to the pandemic. According to Kevin Post, principal and studio director with St. Louis-based Counsilman-Hunsaker, designers and their clients have already begun to ask about ways to facilitate social distancing, supply fresher air for indoor facilities, and make spaces more adaptable so they can be reconfigured to best meet whatever circumstances arise.

I hope this year’s Dream Designs package generates joyous thoughts.

Stay safe, healthy and happy.