Creating a New Aquatic Program

Creating a New Aquatic Program

By Sue Nelson  | Monday, February 13, 2017

There are four key steps one must take when creating a new aquatic program.

  1. Step outside your comfort zone. Realize that the way you did it before or think it should be done now may be outdated or based on previous outcomes that can be reproduced effectively. Ask questions from people you would not normally consult. Look at the simplest of things from a different angle. Every day, every hour you have to challenge the way things have been done in the past. Change for changes sake is not necessarily productive but change with a goal in mind may be great in the long run.
  2. There is a best way to do something, a better way to do it, and an acceptable way to do it. These three things may not be the harmonious. Success stems from doing what is right first and then analyzing the best, better, acceptable process. This process is not always comfortable for the decision makers. Best, better, acceptable usually has a dollar figure attached to each category and unfortunately that many times drives the decision making. Poor decisions early limits success later.
  3. Looking for advocates or supporters or permission from “office bound” decision makers may not be the best way to approach change. Innovation is almost always created by an individual who sees opportunities others can’t. Risk taking is necessary and mandatory. This is where the cliché “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” come from. You will be surprised how many people will back you and want part of the credit when success is achieved. Anyone can see the benefits of change once success is obvious.
  4. Tactical small steps first. Another cliché about “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” comes to mind here. Small changes backed by great planning can make a huge difference. Maybe it is a program name change backed by new marketing. Maybe is a new phase to and existing program that adds a new upper level increasing service and income potential. Most successful programs didn’t start with flag waving and fireworks. They starting by fulfilling a need no one else saw and then growing numbers and program support.

Using the four pillars of the sustainable aquatic facility we have used the four points listed above in two practical examples for program growth and change.

Example #1 – Learn to Swim

NEED - more students and program growth

CHALLENGES

  • Pool time matching up with clients’ needs
  • Instructor availability and training
  • Program design – professional curriculum backed by National organization with reputation for excellent quality, risk management, outcomes.
  • Client identification and marketing
  • Who = what are underserved populations that can afford upper level programming?
  • When = when can clients come to the pool when facility is not at peak capacity?
  • How = how will we get instructors certified and available to deliver the service? How will we use the pools we have with existing Temperature, Access, Depth plus shower room and other facility considerations?
  • Why = why would the clients pick our service over others in area?
  • What = what will the program look like and how will it be marketed?

PROGRAM CREATION by answering the questions above:

  • Who - Underserved clients are adults who have a fear of the water and children who cannot swim.  
  • When – the facility is in use after school through the evening hours and on weekend mornings. New programs must be conducted between 8 AM and 3 PM during the school-in-session months and 11 AM to 4 PM summer months. Main clients would be home schooled children plus day care centers. Adults who do not have 8 to 5 jobs.
  • How - Instructors can be certified by national organizations who are professional providers for USA Swimming. In house trainings can be conducted or regional workshops can be attended. Curriculum can come from the same source.
  • How - Facility staff needs to analyze what temperature (water and air) is needed for the program and how a change in temperature will affect other programs. Water minimum 84 degrees air minimum 78 degrees. Water depth of 3 foot to 4 foot deep is acceptable – portable docks will also work. Portable steps and ramps work well for entry. Ladders are not ideal.
  • Why - Selecting the best national curriculum that has proven outcomes and stressing safety and instructor certification is the key.
  • What
    • Spotlight Classes 2 children to one instructor. Mon through Friday 8 AM to 11 AM and 1 PM to 3 PM. Registration or membership fee plus $19.50 per 30 minute class billed monthly in advance. Assigned time for classes. Financial result $95,000 per year at end of year 2.
    • Custom Classes 1 client (child or adult) to one master level instructor. Mon through Friday 8AM to 11 AM and 1PM to 3 PM. Registration or membership fee plus $39 per 30 minute class billed monthly in advance. Flexible times for classes Financial result $17,000 per year at end of year 2.
    • Small group classes are still conducted during popular time slots. No changes to existing program unless new marketing advantages are identified.
    • Marketing = brochures at facility plus ads in church bulletins and on grocery store bulletin boards. Facility web page listings. Staff incentives and referral coupons for leads from existing clients.

Example #2 – Adult membership programs

NEED - more members to take advantage of aquatic exercise on their own for positive lifestyle changes

CHALLENGES

  • Pool time matching up with clients’ needs
  • Aquatic tech and coordinator availability and training
  • Program design – professional curriculum backed by National organization with reputation for excellent quality, risk management, outcomes.
  • Client identification and marketing
    • Who = what are underserved populations?
    • When = when can clients come to the pool when facility is not at peak capacity?
    • How = how will we get instructors certified and available to deliver the service? How will we use the pools we have with existing Temperature, Access, Depth plus shower room and other facility considerations?
    • Why = why would the clients pick our service over others in area?
    • What = what will the program look like and how will it be marketed?

PROGRAM CREATION - by answering the questions above

  • Who - Underserved clients are adults who cannot exercise on land because of physical issues or who like the water and the way it helps them feel. Post rehab patients are especially underserved.
  • When - the facility is in use after school through the evening hours and on weekend mornings. New programs must be conducted between 8AM and 3 PM during the school-in-session months and 11AM to 4 PM summer months. Main clients would be retired adults or those who have flexible hours with the job.
  • How - Instructors can be certified by the Aquatic Exercise Association (they are a professional provider for USA Swimming). In house trainings can be conducted or regional workshops can be attended. Window of exercise method can be facilitated by Sue Nelson USA Swimming Aquatic Programming Specialist.
  • How - Facility staff needs to analyze what temperature (water and air) is needed for the programs and how a change in temperature will affect other programs. Water minimum 82 degrees air minimum 78 degrees. Water depth of 4 foot deep will work for some programs and deep water for other. Portable steps and ramps work well for entry. Ladders are not ideal.
  • Why - Selecting the best national curriculum that has proven outcomes and stressing safety and instructor certification is the key.
  • What
    • F.I.N.E. program (Fitness Is Nutrition and Exercise ) Classes are replaced by Window of Exercise programming 8AM to 3 PM Mon through Friday with some weekend times available depending on facility scheduling. A calendar is published monthly. Weekly aquatic workshops are conducted – Mini Clinics are offered weekly during WOE times so every member can learn something new every week. Special Pool Chats are conducted monthly and included with membership and monthly fee. Annual Registration or membership fee $59 per individual or $99 per couple or family. FINE monthly fee $49 per individual. Financial result $147,000 per year at end of year 2..
    • Aquatic Personal Trainings 1 client to one certified instructor. Custom times available by appointment. Members only $39 per 30 minutes sold in sets of 4 at a time. This is the way Independent Aquatic Programs are created for the Window of Exercise programming. Financial result $15,000 per year at end of year 2..
    • Marketing = brochures at facility plus adds in church bulletins and on grocery store bulletin boards. Facility web page listings. Staff incentives and referral coupons for leads from existing clients. Doctors and therapy offices.

Staffing needs

  • One Learn to Swim coordinator and Starfish Aquatics Institute (SAI) trainer
    • __Swim Instructors full or part time - SAI certified - amount of instructors controls the growth opportunities.
  • One Aquatic Programming coordinator
    • __Aquatic Techs to assist members and be responsible for facility and client safety - SAI certified - amount of tech's controls the growth opportunities.

 

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