SWOT Analysis Columbia Aquatics Master Plan Study


SWOT Analysis Columbia Aquatics Master Plan Study





As part of o the first ph hase of long‐term

Aquat tics Master PPlan,

CA is undertaking


(Strength hs, Weaknes sses, Opportunities,

and Threats) analysis

of thee

CA aquaticss

program. A

draft of the t SWOT is attached. A SWOT analy ysis is subjective,

and twoo

people rarelly

come‐up wwith

the same results. That is why this draft d is the work w of an inter‐disciplinnary

CA workk

team and it


our hope e that the Task

Force me embers will review r the SSWOT


and offer additions annd


to it regarding r str rengths and weaknessess

of and oppportunities


threats tto

Columbia a Aquatics as

a whole. The

product will w be betteer

as a resultt.

The draft t SWOT anal lysis will be discussed d at t the July 19 Task Force mmeeting

so pplease


the attac ched draft prior p to the meeting. m After

the meetting,

we will accept additional

Task FForce

member comments through t Frid day, July 22. After the meeting,


forward aany



not discus ssed at the meeting m to Jane.Dembner@ColumbbiaAssociatioon.com.

Thank yo ou.

Aquati ics Master Pla an Task Force e

Jane Dembner, D CA Director of Co ommunity Plaanning

Aquati ics SWOT Ana alysis ‐ DRAFT T

July 11 1, 2011


D r a f t July 11, 2011

SWOT Analysis

Columbia Aquatics Master Plan Study


The Columbia Association is developing an Aquatics Master Plan. The plan will be a comprehensive plan

that documents existing conditions of Columbia’s aquatics facilities and programs; assesses the future

needs of CA‐residents and other users; and makes recommendations for future investments in aquatics

venues and associated programs. The following goals have been established for the plan and planning


1. Engage the Columbia community in an inclusive process to plan for the future of Columbia’s

aquatics programs;

2. Provide a framework for Columbia aquatic facilities that balances current and future community

needs given changing demographics and resource constraints; and

3. Establish implementation priorities for the future of Columbia aquatics.

The master plan is being developed with extensive public engagement and the guidance of a Task Force.

The planning process includes three phases:

� Data collection and analysis

� Develop and analysis of alternatives

Master plan development



A SWOT is a planning tool used to understand the Strengths (S), Weaknesses (W), Opportunities (O), and

Threats (T) involved in a project/program or an organization. The information documented in the

Columbia Aquatics SWOT Analysis will enable CA to focus on strengths, minimize weaknesses, address

threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available. It is an important piece of

the up‐front investigation of the master planning process.

The diagram on the next page shows how the tool works and includes internal and external

characteristics as well as positive and negative ones.

D r a f t July 11, 2011



Internal Strengths

Positive Negative

Strengths Weaknesses

Opportunities Threats

This portion of the SWOT seeks to answer questions such as: What do we do exceptionally well? What

advantages do we have? What valuable assets and resources do we have? What do members/customers

identify as our strengths?

These items are positive characteristics and attributes and are internal to CA and within CA’s control.

These are the things that should be maintained, built upon or leveraged

� Facilities are in the community

� Pools are safe and perceived as safe

� The variety of programming and facilities

� The large number of pools and venues

Aquatics is embedded in the Columbia culture, swimming is a tradition

� There is a high level of community participation in aquatics

� Staff expertise

� The pools are operated well

� Staff expertise, e.g. mechanics that have done pool filter rooms for 30 years; many life

guards at the highest level of safety training; as highly trained as any in the country

� CA has kept up with trends and its facilities and programs have evolved over time – a

learning culture

� Physical structure of the community support the use of the pools – for instance the

pathways connect the pools to the community

� History of openness ‐ CA has a number of programs to encourage use across all income


� CA and villages offer free summer pool parties and events at the outdoor pools

� community financial backing well capitalized with reinvestment dollars,

� CA pools are clean

� CA has and engages a summer workforce that is local and knows the pools – the young

people who swim and live here;

D r a f t July 11, 2011

� Great applicant pool for selecting aquatics work force; people grew up in the pools,

joined swim teams

� Pool jobs provide the first job for many, which results in a positive, emotional


� Pools are part of the community and feel of Columbia

� Good value for the money

� Pools are well capitalized

� Venues for birthday parties; rentals, events

� CA has co‐located fitness facilities with indoor pools at the same space proving greatest

convenience for users.

Internal Weaknesses

This portion of the SWOT seeks to answer questions such as: What could we do better? What are we

criticized for or receive complaints about? Where are we vulnerable? What feels broken or what do

others say needs to be fixed?

These items are factors or attributes that are internal to CA and within is control that detract from its

ability to attain the desired goal. They are also the things the organization would like to improve and

that need to be remedied, changed or stopped. Weaknesses may include things our customers and

members highlight as problems or areas they identify for improvement.

� Capital funding – pools are just one priority ‐ pools compete for funding with other CA programs

and facilities

� Aging facilities; have to spend more money to keep them up

� Sheer number of facilities can also be a weakness

� “Never enough lap lanes” in prime times (late afternoon / early evening) is a challenge

– especially at the indoor pools

� Internal coordination and communication with such a huge multifaceted program and team

including many temporary and part‐time employees

� Not having a 50 meter pool

� Shorter season at some pools

� Lack of lap lanes at peak times

� Sparse attendance at some pools

� The pools don’t sell food

� No evening/night hours for evening pool party /socializing

� Cleanliness issues at times at some facilities

� Program pool at the Swim Center not being open more hours

� Unequal distribution of outdoor pools

D r a f t July 11, 2011

External Opportunities

This portion of the SWOT seeks to answer questions such as: What opportunities do we know about, but

have not been able to address? What trends could we take advantage of? These are opportunities that

exist in the social, physical and business environments, which can propel the organization in a positive

direction. Eventually these opportunities need to be prioritized, built on and optimized.

� Prime time swim lessons (5:00pm – 6:30pm)

o The competition (Lifetime Fitness and Swim School) offer this

� Increase pool rentals

� Provide more water spray pads and playgrounds at the pools

� BRAC growth at Ft. Meade bringing approximately 40,000 jobs with the potential increase in

Columbia area residents and thus new pool users/customers – need to market to this group

� Ethnic/immigrant groups – demographics shifts show the largest percent increases in Hispanics

and Asians in Howard County. Need to reach out to and market to these groups to become

members. Also offer programs that speak to meet demands from these segments of the

population such as Ai Chi in the outdoor pools, for example.

� Update indoor facility (Swim Center)

� Respond to parental anxiety over kid safety by “branding” facilities and programs as “safe”

� Responding to demographic and cultural changes resulting from aging population

� Future increase in residents and thus potential pool users due to redevelopment in and around

Downtown Columbia including the planned @250 residences at Wilde Lake Village Center and

the 5,500 units in Downtown.

� Build a 50‐meter pool complex

� Repurpose/add to outdoor pool locations to better meet the year‐round community needs with

new community gathering / community facilities.

External Threats

This portion of the SWOT seeks to answer questions such as: Are any of our weaknesses likely to make

us critically vulnerable? What trends pose potential harm? What external roadblocks exist that block

our progress? Are our competitors or quasi‐competitors doing anything different? Is there significant

change coming in our members' sector? Is technology dramatically changing the sector and services to

it? Are economic conditions affecting our financial viability?

These items are external factors, beyond CA’s control, which could place the aquatics program or its

sustained operation at risk. These are things that need to be countered or minimized and managed. CA

may benefit by having contingency plans to address them if they should occur.

� ADA – new 2011 regulations will need to be studied with appropriate compliance investments


� Changing demographics in Columbia – potential to lose market share as we try to serve such a

wide range of users

� Rising energy costs

� Competition from other pool and recreational venues/organizations (see list on next page)

D r a f t July 11, 2011

Next Steps

Pools / Fitness Clubs

o LifeTimeFitness

o Fairland Aquatic Club

o Howard County YMCA

o Arundel Mills Aquatics Park – planned

o Howard County Recreation and Parks ‐ Roger Carter Recreation Center/Pool with others

planned but not yet funded

o Pools at local condos and home owners groups

o Emerson Pool

o Howard County Community College

o Hammond Park Pool

o Forest Hills Swim Club

o Atholton Swim Club


o Glenelg Country School Swim and Tennis Club (potential west Columbia competition)

o Nob Hill Swim Club (potential north Columbia competition)

o Watermont Swim Club (potential east Columbia competition)

o Waverly Woods Community Pool (potential west Columbia competition)

o West Howard Swim Club, 16131 (potential west Columbia competition)

o Kids First Swim School

Kids Birthday Party/Event Rental Venues

o Jump Zone (parties)

o Pump it up (parties)

o Other CA party venues/packages

o My Gym (parties)

Swim Teams / Lessons

o Eagles Swim Team

o Retrievers

o Greater Baltimore Swim Association (GBSA)

o Kids First Swim School (potential lessons/instruction competitor)

The SWOT will be used as a guide and not a prescription. Together with other analysis being

undertaken, the results of the SWOT analysis will provide an overall picture of important factors that do

and will influence the success of CA Aquatics ‐‐ our venues, facilities and programs. It will help reveal

CA’s competitive advantages; identify our weaknesses; analyze our prospects for attracting additional

pool users; and prepare us to combat threats and take advantage of opportunities.

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