When it comes to aquatics, it appears mother knows best Mother Nature, that is. Over the past two decades, zero-depth, natural beach-style entries have become a pre-eminent design feature in many new public pools, replacing stair or ladder entries.

?[The move toward beach entries] has been positive. It?s been part of the driving catalyst for creating shallower depth pools [and] allows virtually everyone to enjoy [getting in the water],? notes Scott Hester, studio director at Counsilman-Hunsaker in St. Louis.

One of the first pools to incorporate a beach entry was at the Bensenville Water Park, opened in Bensenville, Ill., in the mid-1980s. According to Claude Rogers, who worked on the original design, he and his colleagues took cues from existing wave pools. ?We observed a few of these [wave pools] in operation and came to the conclusion that there was a desire to have shallow water where parent and child could play together,? says Rogers, now aquatic planner/designer with Beaver Dam, Wis.-based Water Technology Inc.

He adds that one of the driving forces behind the project was operators? desire to attract a wider demographic of swimmers to the pool. As hoped, once the zero-depth entry leisure pool/waterpark project was completed, families began coming immediately. They found the environment was more conducive to a longer stay than the old-style rectangular pools surrounded by chain-link fencing, Rogers notes.

The Bensenville pool created some unique challenges. Rogers says that at the time, state pool codes specified pools to be 3.5-feet deep, minimum. His project was so unique that it ultimately led to changes in the codes.

Following the success of the Bensenville project, Rogers and his colleagues took an active role in promoting their design, helping make beach entries the industry standard they are today.