FAQ Plans for the Future

What are the plans for the future of Swimmers Guide?
Adding user scores to the listings.
More fully developing the map-based interface.
Integrating the map-based interface with the text-based interface.
Adding seasonal facilities.
Passing the baton.

Adding user scores to the listings.

When we first started adding reviews to the listings it became clear that we had many different types of users of the site and that the different types of users had different perspectives about what makes for a "good" pool. We would like to implement a pool scoring system that takes into account the type of user doing the scoring. Lap/lane/length swimmers generally prefer water that most other users find too cold to swim in whereas some senior citizens and parents of young children prefer a pool that's too warm for really strenuous exercise. Teenagers often go to pools to socialize with their friends, rather than for the swimming. People who go for water exercise and aqua aerobics are interested in the pools' programs and program leaders. And swim team parents may be more interested in the quality and price of the coffee in the snack bar or café. Depending on your perspective, you may give a pool a "5-star" rating that a user with a different perspective might give just one or no stars to. An undifferentiated average of all the ratings of all the users says nothing of any value to anyone. If we can get people to classify themselves by their primary interests and then assign a ranking, we would then be able to let other potential users know how others, who share their point of view, feel about the facility.


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More fully developing the map-based interface.

After fifteen years of wanting a map-based interface for the site and more than three and a half years of collecting pools' exact GPS locations, we finally were able to implement the map-based interface for the database. Currently, the maps show the locations of the pools with two, color-coded symbols: red pinpoints are used for 50m pools and blue pinpoints are used for all others. We hope to be able to add more informational content to the dots, color-coding the centers with one color for pools that are open for casual or "drop-in" swimming; a different color for pools that are not open for drop-in swimming; and a third color for those where we don't know what the policy is. In major cities with a lot of listings, this should make it easier for travelers to focus their searches to the pools they can actually use and spend less time looking at pools that they most likely won't be able to get into. Ultimately, the map-based interface should become the primary way to search the database. City, county, state/province, and national boundaries shouldn't get in the way of finding a good place to swim; our goal is to find a way that disregards them entirely.


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Integrating the map-based interface with the text-based interface.

Currently, although both the text-based, drill-down search and the map-based, GUI search ultimately lead to the detail pool information pages for each facility, there are no intermediate points where the same information can be seen both in text format and on a map. Although it would probably take too long and require too much processing power to have a map display all of the listings in a particular country or state on a map, we should be able to create both a text list of pools and a map with those pools pinpointed on the same page at the County/Region and City/Town levels. Where we now have a page with a list of all the pools in a given city, we should be able to display a map with those pools pinpointed, as well. Conversely, where we have a map with multiple pools pinpointed, we should be able to add a table, like the "Pools in [City Name]" page. And, when viewing the detail information for one listing, it would be nice to be able to click on a link within that listing that pulls up a map with that pool at the center and all the other pools in a particular radius (if any)pinpointed on the map, around it.


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Adding seasonal facilities.

While we think that our "eight months per year operating" criterion makes a great deal of sense (see the General Questions section of the FAQ), at some point it would be nice to expand the database to include seasonal pools, as well. Adding codes to each listing that indicate when a pool is open and operating or closed for the season and adding a user provided range of dates for the search should not prove to be too difficult. Although it wouldn't be difficult, it would represent a huge amount of work, including going in and adding the open months information to the 19,000+ existing listings.


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Passing the baton.

When the site first went online in 1996, a part of the motivation was to preserve the data we had collected over the previous four years that we feared would disappear and be lost forever if we didn't do something to continue to maintain it. Your site editor was 50 years old at the time - 18 years ago. I'm now 68. And I'm concerned about what will happen to this incredible resource when I can no longer do the work. Ideally, by now I'd be pulling in huge amounts of revenue from the Google Ads on the site and people would be queued up at my door bidding for the right to take over the database and the website. But we don't live in an ideal world, the revenue the site generates is far below the U.S. federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour, and there is no one who has ever given the first indication that he or she would like to take on the task. For a while we had a "donate" button on the site to try to augment our revenues, but fewer than twenty people used it over the year it was there, and they were the same people who have been sending us information to improve the listings for years and years and years. We have had conversations with one national swimming governing body about licensing the database, but they were interested only in the listings in their own country - and the conversation didn't go anywhere for "technical reasons" (that's what they said), anyway. There are only two entities that might conceivably have a reason to take the site over: FINA, the International Olympic Committee's designated governing body for swimming; and the World Health Organization - which is a stretch, given all the other truly important things the WHO does. So it boils down to looking for someone who's as crazy as I am and finding a way to keep the data alive and updated. As with every other page on the site, your input will be appreciated.



Most recently updated September, 2014.

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