Like other municipalities, the city of Mesa, Ariz., learned that you don't just add water to existing pools to keep them busy. "We had to move to a leisure pool concept to keep the kids' attention;' said Terri Palmberg, the city's aquatics program manager.
Mesa's first leisure pool, the $2.1
million Shepherd Aquatics Complex, debuted in 1994. Although Mesa operates 11
pools, 25 percent of guests at citywide open swims , attend the Shepherd
complex. The June 1999 opening of the $2.5 million Stapley Aquatics Complex
brought more evidence of leisure pool popularity: Open swims were canceled at a
no-frills pool 3 miles away because of mass defections to Stapley.
Mesa's 10 older public pools -those without cascading water, jet sprayers, water slides, tire swings and other goodies -at times resemble abandoned ghost towns compared to the new pools. June 1999 attendance figures confirm the trend: .Of 27,773 children at open swims citywide, 10,318 were at Shepherd and 8, 121 were at Stapley. The highest attendance at a non-leisure pool was 3, 769.
|Of 8,816 adults at open swims, 3,067 were
at Shepherd and 2,282 were at Stapley. The highest attendance at a
non-leisure pool was 732. Shepherd also accommodates approximately 300
people who take instructional lessons from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on
weekdays, and 280 more who participate on swimming, diving and
synchronized swimming teams from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. The leisure area
stays active at nights, which are set aside for group reservations.
"People are coming here from outside areas;' Shepherd pool manager Shawn McIntosh said. "It's a beautiful facility. There's something to do for everyone." City marketing efforts increase the popularity of aquatics. Quarterly brochures, event calendars supported by advertisements, school newsletters, community promotions, an Internet site and local newspaper features all support the aquatics programs. Special pool activities include family play days and beach parties, treasure hunts, water carnivals, water safety days, movies, tie-dye days, luaus and Friday-night "teen madness" gatherings from 9 p.m. to midnight.
The Maricopa Association of Governments in Arizona estimates that Mesa's population will swell from approximately 360,000 to 567, 130 by 2020. The school district's enrollment, expected to surpass 72,500 this year, has been rising nearly 2 percent a year. To accommodate the growth in this desert boomtown, officials have two more leisure pools in the works.
source: Aquatics, March 2000 p.36
Copyright 2001 Northern Arizona University, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED