Waterfront: January 2007 - Scaling Budget Challenges

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New pool activity - AquaClimb Wall - keeps kids of all ages coming back for more. 

Community pools often struggle to stay in the black, and are always looking for the latest and greatest ways to attract and keep pool patrons. On the 25 pools where it has been installed, the AquaClimb Wall, introduced to the North American market in 2005, is helping to increase attendance, and appeals to teenagers in particular.

The Franklin Family YMCA in Franklin, Tenn., had a 132-square-foot AquaClimb Wall installed last July, and the deep end stayed busy for the rest of the summer.

"Instantly, we had a line of 10 to 15 kids. From open to close, there's a line," Kenny Alonzo, senior program director at the Y, told The Tennessean . Attendance at this Y increased by about 4,000 a month from last summer, he added.

The walls of the AquaClimb, which are made up of 1-meter-square fiberglass panels with handholds that can be as big as six panels wide by four panels high, bolt to a pool deck at a 10degree angle over the water, which ensures safety and increases difficulty as climbers reach the top. Each panel can be turned in four different orientations to change the level of difficulty and keep the AquaClimb experience challenging and fun.

Cathy Middlehoek, the aquatics director at the municipal pool in Hinton, Alberta, Canada, says the AquaClimb has been a great investment for her pool, as well. "Little did we know buying the AquaClimb would be one of the best business decisions we could make," she says. "Most of our visitors to the public swim now range in age from 9 years old to 16. There was a time when we could not get a teenager in our door, and now they comprise a large percentage of our clientele. Simply put, everyone loves it."

AquaClimb has been safety reviewed by the Aquatic Safety Research Group, LLC, and Dr. Tom Griffiths, the director of aquatics and safety officer for athletics at Penn State University. For more information about AquaClimb, visit aquaclimb.com.

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