When Erika Taylor, the editor in chief of Aquatics International, asked me to guest edit the Dream Designs issue, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? There are beautiful pictures of beautiful pools — and great design stories to boot. The 10 facilities showcased this year completely validate my enthusiasm. The facilities represent places foreign and domestic, urban and rural, serious and whimsical.

We even have the theatric: The designers of one waterpark used theming and lighting to create an underwater fantasy, while another team wrote a special child's tale that added a storytelling dimension to the attractions.

Often what really speak to me are the little details and innovative solutions that come into play while delivering the benefits of water recreation. Those can be found here, with designers cleverly placing water slides to make use of existing structures and others choosing a special ceiling material that not only fits with the aesthetic but manages sound for a special population.

Of course, we continue to see sustainability take its place on the list of priorities, with natatoriums built so virtually every plane is used as a portal for natural light and conscious choices to use energy-efficient equipment. Some facilities have even achieved firsts in energy efficiency designations.

This package makes one thing very apparent — the heart that goes into aquatics. Designers have crafted safe and fun places for city youngsters to hang out and watery getaways catering to special groups such as the sight-impaired. One team worked to retain the historical flair of the WPA-built pool that previously existed on the site and had instilled the community with a special sense of pride. Designing these facilities takes not only an in-depth knowledge of aquatics, but a keen and empathetic ear to specific needs and a passion for water’s ability to make anyone’s life better.

The experience of putting together this year’s Dream Designs issue truly reminded me of something we can easily take for granted: What a great, varied world the aquatics industry is. And how lucky we are to participate.