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How to turn seasonal swimmers into winter swimmers at your community recreation center. 

Swimming is a popular recreational sport in the U.S. As such, it’s no surprise when temperatures rise, so do the number of members flocking to your pools. But how do you keep your swimmers engaged during the colder months?

The YMCA in Central Maryland offers a variety of aquatics programs in the winter to keep members in the pools at its 13 locations. These include water fitness classes, swim lessons for all ages and levels, swim team, master swim team, triathlon swim training and family swim times.

It’s not uncommon for your members to lose motivation to work out in the winter. Therefore, it is important to promote exercises that are new and inviting. Water exercise is easy on the joints, reinvigorating and therapeutic, making it a great option for when the temperature drops. The Y in Central Maryland offers water exercise classes for all fitness levels to members at no additional cost.

“Water exercise is great for your joints since you have full range of motion in the water,” said Jill Black, the executive director of swim and family programs at the Y in Central Maryland. “Working out in the water helps you cool off faster and prevents overheating. You will burn more calories working out in the water because the water provides over 10 times more resistance than on-land exercise.”

Another unique offering you can give winter swimmers is a warm water pool. 

The Mittleman JCC in Portland, Oregon, has a warm water pool that is kept at 92 to 94 degrees — the warmest pool in their area. Jennie Condon, the aquatics program manager and head swim coach for the Mittleman JCC, said the pool is especially popular for anyone who doesn’t like cold water.

The JCC offers a variety of programs that thrive year-round including water aerobics, aqua yoga, aqua Tai Chi and arthritis exercise in the warm pool. However, one of the most popular aquatics programs is swim lessons. Condon said they nearly always have a waiting list, especially for the younger ages.

“Our warm water pool is particularly pleasant for people who are doing rehab from injuries or who have health conditions where being in the cold water is not conducive,” said Condon. “And it’s great for kids and families taking swim lessons. Little kids can’t regulate their body temperature as well as adults, so being in water that’s warmer makes everything more pleasant for them.”

A big challenge that comes with winter aquatics is people can be reluctant to come out in the cold weather to go to a class in water. But as a facility you can use this as an opportunity to offer programs that are extremely popular and crowded in the summer — especially swim lessons. 

“Winter is a great time to learn to swim; you beat the crowds in the spring swim lessons and will be all set for swimming in the summer,” explained Black. 

According to SwimJim, there are various advantages for offering swim lesson to your members in the winter. This includes helping with Seasonal Affective Disorder, curing cabin fever, creating more opportunities for socialization, keeping children active and healthy, and facilitating year-round safety. 

Whether you are offering life-saving swim lessons or unique aquatic programs, there are a plethora of ways to keep your winter swimmers engaged and active in your pools.  


Five Winter Pool Maintenance Tips from Pentair

  • Set alerts for freezing temperatures. If the temperature is below freezing, your pump should be running to avoid damage.
  • Winterize your water features. This means you should winterize your deck jets, wall fountains, and cascades or waterfalls because the pump and pipes that feed them are more prone to freezing than the other pipes.
  • Keep all the valves open. This is especially important if you have a pool with a complex plumbing system and/or an attached spa.
  • Run the pool pump. While you can reduce filtration to lower energy consumption during the winter months, it’s important to still run your pump regularly to keep the pipes and other equipment functioning properly.
  • Maintain the proper pool chemistry. Maintaining proper water chemistry can prevent pool surface staining or scaling and will reduce the amount of work required when you’re ready to start swimming again.


*Photo courtesy of the YMCA in Central Maryland. 

Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is the assistant editor of Community Rec Magazine. She can be reached at taylor@peakemedia.com.

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