Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 World Aquatic Health Conference presented by the National Swimming Pool Foundation. This was my first time attending this annual conference. I doubt that it will be my last! The event is a week-long and full of various activities ranging from draft and model code writing and review, seminars, trainer training courses and networking opportunities. The seminar tracks included Drowning Prevention, Facility Management, Health Benefits, Health Codes, Market Growth and New Industry Technology. Each track had five separate sessions with different topics. So many learning opportunities packed into a short amount of time. I was particularly attracted to the Market Growth and New Industry Technology.
The Market Growth Track wasn’t a how to grow your business track. It was a how do we as an industry grow the industry! Lets think about that concept? One of the spins is that as an industry, we need to promote swimming and aquatics activities. In the residential market we get caught up in focusing on the enjoy your backyard stay-cation and family fun. And we should! That is a tremendous family benefit to residential pool ownership. But should we consider the health benefits of aquatics activities and promote that aspect as a way to grow our industry! More people participating in swimming and aquatics activities should translate to industry growth including residential swimming pool ownership.
Exercising within the pool environment provides many health benefits. The reduced weight due to buoyancy in the water makes exercising measurably less stressful on the joints. Particularly beneficial as we age. If we are standing in shoulder to neck-deep water, the pressure on our bodies affects the way our heart works. It makes the heart stretch a little bit. If we stretch the heart, it hold a little bit more blood. If we can pump more blood with less beats, our heart works easier. Ever wonder why elite athletes, swimmers included, generally have such low pulse rates. That is the mechanism. They are pumping more blood per beat. Here is another interesting fact. warmer water has a larger effect than cooler water. So while we may not be as likely to exercise in our hot tubs or spas, just relaxing in the hot water on a regular basis yields a measure of benefit.
One other major statistic I came away with; 46% of Americans nationwide don’t know how to swim! I almost fell out of my chair! Aside from the health benefits of swimming and aquatic activities, it is an extremely important safety and survival skill! If you fall into a body of water, you need to know how to save yourself! We need to make a sincere effort to teach our youth to swim at an early age! And to teach anyone else who doesn’t know how to swim! I thought to myself, that % has to be lower in California, the swimming pool capital of the world! Speaking with the presenter afterward, he said you would be surprised. California has a high number of immigrants and many of those do not know how to swim. Here in the greater Sacramento area we read every year of numerous drownings in our rivers of people who do not know how to swim, many of them immigrants. We need to address this! Progress must be made! Ironically while I was at the conference, a friend of mine posted that she was beginning swimming lessons. I had no idea she didn’t know how to swim. She has owned homes with pools. She has children and grandchildren! And she is taking the step to learn how to swim. I was impressed! We need more stories like this! No one is drown proof! Learn to swim or wear a life jacket! One of my goals going forward is to promote swimming, aquatics activities and improving the availability of swimming lessons in our community. This was an inspiring and eye-opening conference for me!