In an effort to promote swimming and support public aquatic facilities, Paddock Pool Equipment staged its first-ever Ultimate Pool Conference January 25 to 27 in Charlotte, N.C. The event drew 247 attendees that included not only members of the pool and spa industry but also community leaders, coaches, Olympic swimmers and others interested in keeping the sport of swimming afloat in their communities.

According Don Baker, president of Paddock Pool Equipment: “It grew out of our builders conferences, where we come together to share what’s new and find common ground in addressing problems facing the industry.

"For this event, we expanded that concept to include people from all walks of the industry, not just Paddock-friendly builders, but also business and community leaders, swim coaches and athletes. We focused on the aquatics community in Charlotte, which is the leading center for swimming in the U.S., but we hope that others who traveled to the conference can replicate what’s going here in their own communities.”

The roster of presentations included a keynote address from Jimmy Blackmon, a retired Army colonel, author and leadership consultant. His inspiring discussion was followed by legendary swimming coach David Marsh, head coach for the record-setting 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s swim team, and Jeff Gaeckle, co-founder of The Pool Management Group and long-time elite swimming coach. The conference also featured open discussions on pressing issues facing the aquatics industry including air-quality management and overall aquatic facility design.

The event comes at a time when community pools in some areas are facing challenges. Concerns over water and air quality and waterborne diseases have impacted demand for swim programs, and financial strains have caused facilities to be shuttered. At the same time, some communities and organizations that support swimming are struggling to fund the construction of new facilities or much-needed renovations for existing pools.

In a letter to Baker following the event, aquatic consultant Bob McCallister wrote, “The opportunities to network with trades and other consultants brought people together who normally are protective of their professional territories and trade practices. There was a tremendous amount of energy amongst us. The knowledge being shared helps all of us do a better job.”