If you’re like most people, January is a time to pause, look at your life and ask, “What can I do to improve this year?” So that got me to thinking about good resolutions for the aquatics industry to take on in 2010. If you have some thoughts on the topic, I hope you’ll share them on our AI Connect forum, titled “Industry Resolutions.” For now, here’s a short list I came up with:

1. I will be more confident. This seems to be a deep-seated problem in the industry, and it has far-reaching effects. From getting shut out of stimulus money to being the first on the chopping block when it comes to budgets cuts, aquatics gets no respect.

For  that, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The best way to sum it up is to relay a conversation from a recent trade show. The individual said we offer the public something very few others can: wellness, family togetherness, lifetime memories and community. Not to mention a lifetime skill that may one day save their lives. If we really take pride in ourselves and sell our facilities that way, nothing can stop us.

2. I will value myself more. Aquatics professionals must get away from the idea that they are charities and start acting like valuable assets.

This means rethinking what you charge for everything from daily passes to swim lessons. If you tell the public you’re only worth $2 a day, that’s how they’ll treat you. Yes, it’s important for aquatics to serve the public, including the disadvantaged. But no one will be served if your facility can’t make enough to survive.

What aquatics facilities offer is too valuable to lose, and your public will agree if given the chance.

3. I will do the easy things first. This is sort of a catch-all for a lot of things. For example,  many professionals tell me that they’re having trouble with operating expenses. Yet these same operators haven’t invested in one of the simplest, cost-saving measures available: pool covers.

The same goes for UV disinfection in the fight against RWIs. Yes, UV is a great supplemental sanitizer, but it’s nothing without proper water balance and equipment operations. Many outbreaks start with something really simple going wrong. Even the best UV system won’t protect against RWIs if the basics aren’t covered first. This is a micro-example of a macro-truism for aquatics: Do the easy things first or face hard consequences later.

4. I’ll get the education I need. Running an aquatics facility is a complicated job. There’s chemistry, customer service, staffing, repair — not to mention the need for a whole lot of creativity. Fortunately, plenty of education is out there, including this publication and online offerings such as our Reinventing Aquatics educational event.

But none of it does any good unless you use it. Every operator needs to know about things such as CYA, TDS and DBPs. They need to be trained on how to properly run and service equipment. And every operator should be certified in one of the many operator training programs available. They also should make sure staffers get the best, most-up-to-date training possible. Finally, everyone responsible for water quality management, from lifeguards to managers, should be certified operators.