Facility Organization

Aquatic facility operators and their staffs are consumers. Running an aquatics program effectively requires the purchase and consumption of:

  • Filtration equipment, heaters, chemical feeders and monitors
  • Disinfection and stabilizing chemicals
  • Rescue equipment (i.e., rescue tubes, backboards, etc.)
  • Personal protective equipment (i.e., resuscitation masks for adults and children, BVMs, disposable gloves, face shields, biohazard disposal systems, etc.)
  • First aid/CPR/AED equipment
  • Swimming lesson/lap swimming equipment
  • Facility maintenance equipment and supplies
  • Office equipment and supplies
  • Technology (i.e., computers systems, telephone systems, public address systems, radio communication systems, alarms, security systems, etc.)
  • Documentation of critical policies and procedures and health and safety information.

With all of these areas of consumption, an aquatic facility can easily become bloated, cluttered, and disorganized. To minimize this at your facility, this page provides suggestions to build and maintain strong aquatic facility/office organization.

Note: A great deal of this information has been derived from a terrific book by Stacey Platt, What’s a Disorganized Person to Do?, which features 317 tips to unclutter your life. You can buy Stacey’s book and get more organization tips on her Web site www.dwellwellnyc.com. Check it out!

General Principles of Organization

This section provides general principles and guidelines for facility organization.

Organizational axioms

Organizational axioms include:

  • Safety first. Many purchases are discretionary in nature, but the availability of equipment, supplies, and materials that relate to the health and safety of staff members and the public must be of the highest priority.
  • Consume responsibly. Buy only what you need, will use, and have the capacity to store. Don’t buy every new thing unless to represents a means to improve health and safety, service delivery, etc. or meets a genuine need.
  • In with the new, out with the old.Clutter often occurs because we acquire things much more easily than we throw things away. To stay “lean” from an organizational standpoint:
    • Schedule routine purchases of supplies to coincide with the depletion of the previous purchase
    • Make replacement purchases when you are ready to throw out old, worn-out equipment and supplies
    • Make redundant purchases only when you see the need (e.g., you see that another pair of walkie-talkies would be beneficial)
  • Working space is working space. Clutter and disorganization interfere with our ability to work efficiently. While we need the equipment and tools nearby that allow us to do our jobs, too much stuff can make it difficult to find what is essential.

Lessons from the sock drawer

Everyone has a sock drawer, essentially a bin for pairs of your socks. If you need a new pair of socks, you know exactly where to go. It is too bad that when it comes to other items, we sometimes cannot find them without looking around; checking various drawers, boxes, and bags; and wasting a great deal of time. You find your socks so easily because the system for storing your socks is simple, and it demonstrates four important organizing principles:

  1. Socks are kept with socks.
  2. They have a single, consistent storage location.
  3. Everyone who handles or uses the socks agrees on this location.
  4. Socks are always returned to the same location after use (and cleaning)

These principles should be applies to everything at the aquatic facility. Keep like things together. Have a single, correct, and consistent storage location that everyone knows about and agrees to use. Put things away in their proper place after they have been used (and cleaned if necessary).


The perimeter is the transition point between the aquatic facility (inside) and the outside world. Staff members, supervisors, suppliers, medical personnel, and clients all enter and exit the perimeter when it is appropriate to do so. In some cases, different entry sites are used for different purposes.

The perimeter of an aquatic facility is a function of limited, monitored entry/exit amid the prevention of inappropriate, unauthorized access. Some organizing principles for the perimeter include:

  • Opening and closing procedures
  • Facility inspections
  • Controlled distribution of keys and security codes
  • Emergency access
  • Delivery access
  • Incoming and outgoing mail
  • Access to email, social media, and the Internet

Swimming Area

The swimming area of an aquatic facility must be run in a safe, healthful manner.

Facility Offices

Usually, an aquatics facility has front and back offices. The front office has one or more attendants or cashiers to greet customers, answer the telephone, and take money for swimming lessons and admission to the facility. The back office faces the water and consists of a desk for the facility manager/person in charge and sometimes a first aid station or lifeguard rest area.

Front office cashiering/phone handling

The person(s) on duty in the front office must perform the role of cashier while providing excellent customer service in person and on the telephone. In addition, the cashier(s) may have office management responsibilities and, in an emergency, may make the emergency phone call and guide advanced medical personnel to the emergency scene.


The best run aquatic facility can be over-run with paper. And yet, many federal, state, and local regulations require aquatic facilities to keep records, file reports, and maintain documentation of training, certifications, compliance with regulations, emergency procedures, etc.

  • Filing 101 - The best solution for filing paper is still the hanging folder, manila folder, plastic label combination.
    • Separate folders into drawers by the amount of security required. For example:
      • One drawer should contain items that can be accessed by all employees, such as facility schedules and other handouts for the public, records and report forms, etc. In addition to this file drawer, office copies of facility policies and procedures, material safety data sheets, federal/state/local regulations, etc. should be kept in 3-ring binders on top or near the file cabinets.
      • Another drawer or drawers should contain operational/financial records for the facility, including program files, employee certifications and training records, receipt for materials purchased/delivered, daily attendance and financial reports, rescue/accident reports, etc.
      • A final drawer should hold personnel records and other sensitive items that should only be accessed by managements. This information might be kept in the pool operator’s desk drawer where it can be secured with lock and key.
    • Label each hanging folder and place the plastic tab in the front of the hanging folder for ease of reading. Place all tabs in a row on the right or left side, whichever is closest to you. Choose your first word carefully so that its contents is readily known. This helps in both filing and retrieving files.
      • Avoid burying your content with categories. For example, don’t label things “Receipts” and put every suppliers receipt in there. Also, don’t do this: “Receipts-Home Depot” because you will end up with several “Receipts-” labels making it harder and harder to find what you want. Also, when you write a letter to Home Depot, where do you file a copy? Under “Letters-Home Depot”?
      • Do label by Supplier, Project, Program, Large Topic. Use manila folders to separate letters from receipts, etc.
    • Clean out the file cabinets at least once a year. You can archive files by placing documents in a box, labeled by year and content.
  • Paper in and out - Create a standard 3-tiered system for moving paper: In, Action, Out.
    • The In tray contains items yet to be read, oranized, or acted upon. Examples include articles/mail to read, forms to fill out, etc. Go through your In Box everyday by taking items out one at a time, deciding what to do about each one, and acting upon your decision.
    • Action files are in process but cannot be completed immediately. For example: a lesson plan or presentation you are preparing, budget items to be worked out and submitted upstairs, etc. Do not place your Action files in between In and Out; use a desktop file sorter next to the In and Out trays. This way you can see what you still have to act on. When the project is finished, follow internal protocols for filing these action items. In the absence of protocol, only file papers you may need to refer to again.
    • The Out tray are completed items to be filed or processed. You can use PostIt notes to indicate whether the item is to file, to shred, to mail, to fax, or to copy.
  • RAFT through documents - 4 actions to take with any document: Refer it to someone else; Act on it (e.g., pay the bill, fill out and mail the form, etc.); File it if you might need it for future reference; or Toss it.
  • When to tickle; when to toss - Another way to take action with paper is to create a tickler file. This is a reminder system, invented by David Allen in his book Getting Things Done, for time-sensitive papers that require follow-up in the future. To make a tickler file:
    • Use an accordion folder or folder box with 43 pockets or subfolders, 31 for the days of the month plus 12 for the months of the year.
    • File papers in the folder that corresponds to the day you need to follow up.
    • If the follow up occurs after the current month, write the due date in the upper right corner of the paper and file it in the folder for the appropriate month.
    • Check the appropriate folder daily and distribute papers monthly in the appropriate places.
    • Be brutally honest about when to tickle a document and when to toss it:
      • Does the paper have current, relevant information?
      • Will I need this is the future? If so, when?
      • Would this information be difficult to find?

Recommended documents for aquatics

Every aquatics facility should have certain records, reports, and forms. These include:

  • Daily log book
  • Employee forms
    • Job descriptions
    • Applications for employment
    • Kudos/reprimand form
    • Employee evaluation forms (internal)
  • Employee manual
    • Facility history/programming
    • Personnel policies and practices
    • Blood-borne pathogens/exposure control plan
    • Facility operation and maintenance
    • Hazard communication standards
    • Opening and closing procedures
    • Injury prevention/patron surveillance
    • Emergency action plan(s)
    • Rescue techniques
    • First aid administration
    • Spinal injury management
    • Swimming/water safety instruction
    • Records and reports
  • Facility maintenance forms/reports
    • Daily facility checklist
    • Chemical expenditure report form
  • Financial forms/reports
    • Budget allocation form
    • Daily recap
    • Receipts
    • Lesson registration form
    • Weekly attendance reports
  • Safety
    • Exposure control plan
    • Facility rules
    • Material safety data sheets
  • Scheduling
    • Weekly schedule
    • Change of schedule request
  • Incident reporting
    • Incident report
    • Rescue report
    • First aid/CPR assessment/care form
    • Refusal of care form
  • Swimming lesson materials
    • Block plans
    • Lesson plan forms
    • Program/leader evaluation forms
    • Skill sheets
    • Report cards
  • Training materials
    • Audit forms
      • Facility audit
      • Lifeguard audit/testing
      • Swim instructor audit
    • Scenario evaluation forms
    • Training plans
    • Training records
As this Web site grow, many examples of these forms will be available. Check for them!

 Virtual Reference Library

There is really no excuse in this age of advanced technology for an aquatics facility to be without a computer system with Internet access. Many of the documents listed above can be kept on a “virtual reference library” so employees can access them as needed. Inexpensive desktop computers can be set up in offices and employee rest areas and WiFi or extra Ethernet connections can be provided so employees can use their own laptops at work. This way, they can complete reports and swim lesson report cards via computer and print things out to an inexpensive color printer.

In addition to business-specific documents, you can keep American Red Cross textbooks online as well as links to great Web sites (like WaterSafetyGuy.org).

Software Tip: No money for expensive word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and note-taking software? Try Microsoft Office for Home and Student.  Want something even less expensive? Try OpenOffice from Apache (it’s free!).

Ergonomics for the Office

Paying attention to office ergonomics (an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — also called biotechnology, human engineering, and human factors) in the office can help you avoid backaches, eye strain, and fatigue. Organize all workstations for optimum benefit.

  • Computer screen location. The computer screen should sit 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 centimeters) away from your face with the center of the screen about 10 to 15 degrees below your eyes.
  • Correct posture. Proper body position includes head and neck straight, wrists unbent, forearms parallel to the floor with elbows at work surface level, shoulder relaxed, and elbows close to the body. Feet should be flat on the floor or supported by a foot rest. Hips should be even with or slightly higher than knees. If possible, use a chair with lumbar support.
  • Protect your eyes. Reduce any ambient or overhead lighting (and block sunlight with blinds, curtains, etc.), especially if there is glare on the computer screen. Use Control Panel Ease of Access settings to make the computer easier to see. If using the computer for an extended period, take small breaks and focus your eyes away from the screen.

For more information about ergonomics, go to the American Psychological Association or the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program.

Utility and Storage Areas

Aquatic facilities