Clubs’ aquatics offerings are expanding to not only add more to traditional programs and swim teams, but also to introduce intriguing new offerings, such as stand-up paddleboard and scuba classes.
Gone are the days when a club’s swimming pool was merely an aquatic babysitter, allowing adults an opportunity to relax in the sun while their kids splashed in the water. Today, properties are investing extensively in renovations and programming to turn their pool areas and pool-related activities into primary attractions for both existing and potential members.
And many of these efforts to step outside the norm for classes and programs are also providing tangible health benefits that can help keep all members active and engaged, well into their golden years.
After its major renovation project in 2017-18, Greenville (S.C.) Country Club (“A New Club for the New South, C+RB, November 2017) now boasts 9,500 sq. ft. of pool space, with two newly designed pools, decorative railings, walls and landscape planters. In addition, the club invested in a new audio/visual system for the pool area, and built a 5,000-sq. ft. pool house.
Greenville’s family pool features a 1,200-sq.-ft. sundeck, submersible lounge chairs, and bench seating integrated within pool walls. Bubblers, Roman jets and a kiddie slide keep the children entertained—but it’s the competition pool that draws the biggest crowd. The eight-lane, 25-meter lap pool has two diving boards and a state-of-the-art gutter-style filtration system.
More than 340 children—ranging in age from four to 18—now compete on the club’s swim team, reports Susie Johnson, Greenville CC’s Member Relations Director. The cost for members to join the “Big Team” in 2019 was $100 per swimmer, Johnson says, while younger kids could join the “Guppy Team” for $85 per swimmer.
Building such a robust swim program has been the result of a concerted effort that’s gone beyond the creation of Greenville’s sparkling new facility, Johnson notes. “Having member volunteer support is critical to programming, including, but not limited to, the swim team,” she says. “Also, it’s important to have staff liaisons who are specifically engaged with the swim program.”
The Fairwood Barracudas swim team at Fairwood Golf & Country Club in Renton, Wash. has approximately 200 swimmers, reports General Manager Anthony P. Paino. Ranging in age from eight to 18, registration fees are $165 for the first family swimmer and $150 for every family swimmer thereafter.
Paino agrees that member involvement and engagement is a critical component for the success of a club’s swim program. “The right group of parents can make or break the program,” he says. “We’ve been so fortunate to have had a group of parents, led by member Justin Long, running our swim team program these last few years.
“The quality of the Barracudas program really shows it,” Paino adds. “When the members take ownership of their club and lead these programs, it builds excitement and fosters a spirit of fun, healthy competition.”
Having the right staff in place can’t be overlooked, either. “Almost as important as the member engagement is having a coaching staff that gets their energy from mentoring the kids, setting the example on and off the pool deck, and working well with the members,” Paino says. “Again, we’ve been fortunate to have an incredibly gifted coaching staff at Fairwood.
“Head Coach Mike Smith and his assistants, Caitlin Couch and Bridget Duven, offer a lot of positivity to the program,” he notes. “These coaches, like many before them, began as young competitors participating in the club’s swim team program.”
The swimming facility at Fairwood is well-suited to handle the demands of the Barracudas, with an eight-lane pool, plenty of space and fully equipped locker rooms. The club provides food-and-beverage service at meets and has plans to increase what it offers in 2020, Paino says.
“We appreciate the value the swimming program has for the Fairwood community, and its effect on the growth of the overall club membership,” he says.
Down They Go
At Riverside Country Club in Bozeman, Mont., kids in the landlocked state have a unique opportunity to take scuba lessons in the pool. Mandy Dredge, Director of Membership and Marketing, says the club started offering classes the summer of 2015, and they’ve since become a popular yearly staple.
“The class is a quick and easy introduction into scuba for kids,” Dredge says. “The kids go over basic safety guidelines and skills under the direct supervision of a PADI [Professional Association of Diving Instructors] professional.”
The stand-alone class, which is offered three times over the summer, introduces kids to the basics of diving during the hour-and-a-half session, but doesn’t certify them as a diver.
“Kids can participate in the class as often as they would like,” Dredge says. “A lot of the kids have participated in the class multiple times.”
Riverside partners with a local dive shop, Sports Cove, to conduct the classes. The sessions are offered to children 8 years and older and limited to eight participants. Sports Cove provides the gear needed, and lessons cost members $40 per child, per class.
Members have been pleased, and impressed, that the club offers the program, says Dredge. “It is a great way to get exposed to diving before a beach vacation and get the kids excited,” she says. “It is one of the most unique programs we offer.”
Stand Up and Be Counted
Scott Butler, Athletic Center Supervisor at The Fountaingrove Club in Santa Rosa, Calif., reports that one of his club’s new programs literally stands out in popularity, for both kids and adults. Created in 2011 in France by Eric Vandendriessche, AQUA STAND UP USA is an aquatic training program choreographed to music, inspired and performed on stand-up paddle boards in the pool. The AQUA STAND UP USA website defines the class as a combination of different fitness techniques, including HIIT, Pilates, Yoga and muscular conditioning.
“I was introduced to Aqua Stand Up at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association [IHRSA] conference in March 2019,” Butler says. “[We] initiated it after [COO Ron Banaszak] gave the thumbs up.”
The AQUA STAND UP USA training package for clubs includes a daylong immersion training for eight instructors, Butler says. The Fountaingrove Club offers the classes for both youths and adults, in conjunction with its aqua aerobics class. “It ended up being a very popular program with our youths,” Butler says.
The club purchased 10 boards and all necessary equipment, and the program uses two lanes of Fountaingrove’s eight-lane pool. The boards’ bow and stern are tethered to lane lines in the pool. No new hires were needed as the club utilized current staffing—three are aerobics instructors, two are fitness employees and two are youth instructors.
The Fountaingrove Club is promoting the program by using a pop-up marketing display next to a paddleboard in a high-traffic area of the club. Efforts also include spots on social media, and the staff will produce demo videos with the instructors.
As an extension of the program, this spring the club will take the boards into a lake on the property and offer guided tours via paddleboards. “It’s the complete opposite of what we’re offering in the pool,” Butler says.
Butler is also a TigerKick Master Instructor. He describes TigerKick—a youth aquatics program—as “Nickelodeon meets martial arts.” It includes lap swimming, stroke technique, an underwater obstacle course, relay races, games and more. “It teaches confidence and perseverance,” he says.
Signing Them Up
In addition to registration fees to participate in its popular interclub swim team program, Greenville (S.C.) County Club also sells sponsorship packages when it hosts its club league’s end-of-season Divisional event. “We put together a package plan and e-mail it out to our swim team parents and those that are in our division,” says Member Relations Director Susie Johnson. “We only reach out for sponsorships every four years, when we host Divisionals.”
Sponsorship packages include:
• Family Package ($20): Consists of words of encouragement for a
swimmer—along with a photo—displayed on a piece of purple kickboard paper and posted on a centrally located promotional board;
• Bronze Package ($250): Company name on printed materials (heat sheet).
• Silver Package ($500): Company name on printed materials (heat sheet) and a company-provided banner on display; and
• Gold Package ($1,000): Company name on printed materials (heat sheet), company-provided banner on display, two reserved seats on the pool deck, and lane sponsorship—company logo displayed on signage at the starting block.