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Having Your Own Swim School Pool With the reduced availability of pool facilities proving to be a challenge for a number of swim schools across the UK, Robbie Phillips, STA’s Lead Pool Plant Expert offers his advice to owners and organisations who are looking at the option of having their own swimming pool built


ver the last 10 years, there has been a significant change in the delivery of learn to swim programmes. With the demise of Local Authority provision, we’ve seen a boom in the private swim school market; however with a decreasing stock of swimming pool facilities, water space is at a premium for this growing market and so it follows that more and more swim school owners, who are reliant on hiring pools, are attracted to building or owning their own swimming pool. Here at the STA we’ve seen this firsthand, with many of our private swim school customers seeking advice on how they can build their own pools – we predict it will also be a hot topic for conversation at this year’s SPATEX too.

SO WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING YOUR OWN POOL? First and foremost, swim schools have to make sure the pools are fit-for-purpose and safe for their learners. When we hire, generally the pool owner has the responsibility for ensuring safe hygienic conditions and all the services. With your own pool, you have sole responsibility for all aspects of management and expenditure. This immediately questions the hiring of domestic pools and the inherent risks in terms of pool safe conditions, contracts, legal etc. Therefore, you have to weigh up the

With the demise of Local Authority provision, we’ve seen a boom in the private swim school market; however with a decreasing stock of swimming pool facilities, water space is at a premium…” 40 February 2017 SPN 40-41_SPN_Feb_17_STA.indd 40

advantages and disadvantages of this responsibility and financial commitment. Many swim schools, as per the case study example in this feature from The Little Swimming Company, cite that the advantages are: • Guaranteed safe hygienic water – when hiring facilities, we hear so many cases of swim schools turning up at a pool and not knowing if the caretaker has properly tested / treated the water, and there is nobody on site to ask. Having your own pool gives you the control to make sure its safe for your own protection and business reputation. • Warm water and atmosphere – many public pools find it difficult to alter the temperature for different swimming activities, as they have to cater for so many different age groups who require different water temperatures. Therefore, by having your own pool (and by having the right training) you can regulate the temperature of the water based on your own cliental and optimising energy consumption. • Guaranteed lessons without cancellations – this is a big issue for swim schools; they have no control over forced pool closures or hirers cancellation, which affects income and reputation. Having your own pool means you are not beholden to the problems of other facilities. • Quality building and plant – the control and quality of existing facilities can vary vastly, especially with ageing pool stock. By designing your own brand new facility, you can specify the build in line with the latest standards. • Opportunities to sell water space – as previously mentioned water space is at a premium and there is high demand. Having your own pool to hire creates new income opportunities. • It also allows a prime secondary spend outlet. However, for any swim school embarking on this journey, it is critical they set out a realistic business and financial plan.

WHAT ARE THE KEY DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS? • Size of pool and building • Provision of a safe environment

• Types of customers – age ranges and abilities – this will impact on the pool size / depth / design • Facilities required i.e. plant room, changing rooms, viewing area, café, vending, gym, etc. • Size of pool(s) will define size of services to building – gas, electric, water, sewage, including discharge consent, wood burning, solar, heat pumps • Costs – design, building, materials, architect, professional trades, services, maintenance, rates, rent, insurance all need to be factored into the budget.

WHAT TYPE OF BUILDING? • New build - with a new build you can design a facility to your own specification and budget. However, consider services to site as this could increase the budget considerably. • Existing building – we’ve seen pools built in the middle of business parks within factory units and in residential areas in old pubs / hotels / churches. With this route, the pool and ancillary spaces have to be fitted in. Assessing existing services is again critical. • Another possibility could be taking over a redundant pool facility. • All the existing buildings require serious structural survey for all aspects of the site, how energy efficient is it? • Modern buildings will have inherent energy efficient features such as insulation imposed on the build by local authorities. Planning permission and / or change of ‘business’ use will also need to be carefully researched.

LOCATION • Consider the catchment area and the demographics, where will your swimmers come from? • Ages – investigate your target age range because this will impact on pool size • Accessibility / Parking sufficient and convenient without charge if possible. Will business neighbours object? • Local geology – groundwater etc. especially 20/01/2017 23:12

SPN (Swimming Pool News) February 2017  

Informing the pool and spa industry since 1959. Covering the UK's wet leisure market, SPN (Swimming Pool News) is the UK's longest running a...

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