Waterfront: January 2006 - Hand- And Sand-Made Hot Tub; Ponding Pupils; Very Hot Tub

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Hand- And Sand-Made Hot Tub

Unorthodox "castle" takes home first prize in competition.

A father-and-son team swept the West Hill sand castle building contest last July near Uxbridge, Mass., with a hot tubinspired design. Jacob Norquist, 9, and his father, John, took first-place with their creation, which they dubbed the Sandcastle Hot Tub.

The duo constructed a 1-foot-tall circular sand wall, adorned with small castlelike structures and complete with a plastic liner in the middle of the tub to keep the water inside warm.

"Jacob actually came up with the idea," John told the MetroWest Daily News . "When we were here a few days ago, he said he wanted to build a hot tub after he filled a black bucket full of water and the water was just so hot. We just tried to figure out the best way to design it."

Ponding Pupils

Hill Country pond will be hub for ecology-based education program.

Little kids love to learn, although not quite as much as they love recess. The "Ponds for Kids" program, pioneered by Aquascape Designs and now facilitated through The North American Water Garden Society (NAWGS), blends the best of both to create an outdoor classroom where children can learn all about ponds.

"With a pond, you can see the whole circle of life in one spot," says Katy Cenicola, co-owner of The Pond Crew in Boerne, Texas, which donated labor and supplies to help build the 1,000-gallon "Ponds for Kids" pond in Cibolo, Texas, last August.

Building a pond in Texas Hill Country is a two-day affair, says Cenicola, "because the dig is so hard. There are just so many rocks in the soil." So John Cenicola and Mike Burger of The Pond Crew started the project on a Friday and a group of adult and child volunteers joined them on Saturday to finish the pond.

"Ponds for Kids" classes will be integrated into the "Science in Nature" program at the Cibolo Nature Center, a 100-acre nature preserve that hosts over 5,000 school children and 100,000 visitors annually. The new pond will showcase native plants, fish and rock found in the Texas Hill Country. Fish for the pond were seined from nearby Cibolo Creek and most of the rock used in the construction of the pond is from the site, rearranged to compose the waterfall and core of the pond. Well-weathered limestone, some with fossils and others with holes from years of erosion, make the pond and waterfall look as though they've been there for years.

Very Hot Tub

Hot tub hunt down like a scene from an action film.

A high-speed car chase followed by a manhunt with cops, dogs and a helicopter — no, this isn't a climactic scene from Hollywood's next big blockbuster, it's what happened when three men tried to steal a $3,100 hot tub from Pools, Spas, Etc. in Wise, Va., last August.

The dealership has displayed hot tubs outdoors for the five years it's been in Wise. "And we'd never had a problem," says Jason Mullins, store manager. "We're in a sleepy little community so we just didn't think that was an issue." Normally, the dealer displays 900-pound units, "but then we put out two 400-pounds units and that's what happened," says Mullins.

What happened was the thieves successfully stole one of the lighter hot tubs in July and came back to grab the second one, but got caught redhanded. Gregory Atkins, an employee, just happened to spot the broad-daylight theft in progress as he was heading to dinner with his family. Atkins tried to stop the thieves to no avail, so then he called Mullins and the local police and the chase was on. Mullins estimates 15 cop cars pursued the thieves, who were speeding toward the Kentucky border and driving more than 110 miles per hour. After more than 15 minutes of pursuit, officers were able to get the truck to pull over about one-half mile from the state line, where the thieves fled on foot.

One of the thieves was quickly collared by a police dog, and another escaped into a heavily wooded area, only to be apprehended a few days later. The third thief got out of the getaway truck before the chase ensued, but was arrested later. In addition to the many officers on the ground, a Kentucky State Police helicopter aided in the search. "We're talking about a scene right out of COPS," says Mullins.

The thieves were charged with numerous felonies, but the end of this story is a bit brighter for Pools, Spas, Etc. "We've gotten a lot of business because of this," says Mullins. Customers recognize the dealership as "the one that had the hot tub stolen," he adds. "In the same time frame, we've moved 12 more units than we moved last year. We even sold the one that was almost stolen. A guy came in wanting to buy it, so it was kind of the notorious spa."

Colossal Swim Competition

Annual FSPA Swim & Dive Meet draws 2,000 participants.

Last fall the annual Florida Swimming Pool Association High School Invitational Swimming & Diving Meet in Orlando drew 2,000 participants from 86 schools from around the state. Started 28 years ago by the central-Florida chapter of the NSPI, the meet has grown into quite an event.

"It's huge, it's enormous, it's crazy," says Wendy Parker, director of marketing for the FSPA. "We even had two schools from Key West, which is a long drive to Orlando, and Tallahassee.

"The meet is very exciting. The kids are cheering and screaming and painting their bodies with 'Go Titans' or whatever their school is. It's great to see these kids get into the spirit of swimming."

Aside from its size, what makes this meet so special is that it's an open-class event, so students from the smallest schools to the biggest ones have the chance to compete. "Normally in high school events you're in divisions, but this is a completely open class," says Parker. "So you can see how you swim against everybody else in the state. One of the coaches told me he thinks it's the largest event of its kind."

Members of FSPA chapters statewide and a variety of pool companies big and small sponsor the event, and many members help out by volunteering their time. Dillon Daniels, an FSPA member and volunteer at numerous swim meets, says about the event: "It's an opportunity to support young members of our society who are doing something constructive with their lives and bodies."

Though the swim meet does not primarily serve as a fundraiser, the event usually generates about $1,000, which goes into the FSPA scholarship fund. Dependents of employees of FSPA member companies are eligible to apply for the scholarships. "We give about $25,000 out each year through that program," says Parker. At Home With Therapeutic Waters

New title guides consumers through home-spa experience.

A new title from former AQUA editor Alan Sanderfoot and Storey Publishing provides consumers with information for creating a home spa. Whether they want to add a basic hot tub or build a complete resort-style, healing-waters environment, homeowners can consult this book for information on appliance selection, installation considerations, maintenance and safety. General historical tidbits and contemporary trends written in first-person prose launch each of three sections. Historical images, diagrams and product photos help tell the story, too.

The book includes an appendix with advice on selecting a retailer or contractor, and a resource list including suppliers, associations and publications. A glossary also helps consumers navigate the sometimes-overwhelming options available to them. Tips on maintenance and troubleshooting will help readers enjoy their home spas for years to come.


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