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End of Month Report for January, 2018

Date Posted: 1/31/2018 9:03:16 PM

Site News as of January 31, 2018:

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, we had plans for what we were going to work on in January, but we kept getting interrupted. While we were working on updating the listings in Missouri, we figured out how to "milk" the Gold's Gyms website to find their locations with swimming pools. So we wrapped up Missouri, completed updating the listings in Arkansas, and started working on Gold's. When we were done, we'd added 56 new Gold's listings in the U.S.

After that, we went back to Spain to work on the provinces whose names begin with B and C. We got through the listings in Badajoz and the Balearic Islands, then someone emailed us a list of pools in Vietnam that seemed pretty enticing so, after finishing-up the Balearic Islands, we started working on the listings in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon) and came up with 25 new listings there. We figured we'd finish the rest of the leads in Vietnam after we were done with the rest of the B provinces in Spain.

Then, while working in the province of Barcelona, we came across a website operated by the Generalitat de Catalunya with a database of indoor pools throughout the region, which includes Barcelona, Gerona (Girona), Lerida (Lleida), and Tarragona. So we've begun milking that site and won't get back to Vietnam and the U.S., until we're finished there. Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans...

23,000 Listings

We wrapped up calendar year 2017 just six listings short of 23,000. We covered that deficit in the first week of January and haven't looked back. By January 31, we had 23,152 listings "on the books" and an untold list of leads to follow up with.

Problems with the Website

The site has started going buggy on us and on you. Menu selection screens occasionally freeze, "Error 505" messages are popping up, and one user reported an error message using the Google Swimmers Guide Site Search Tool (Option 3 on the home page's list of ways to find a pool on the site). We've had occasional problems for several months, but January was really, really annoying. Our independent programmer says the problems are the fault of the site's hosting service (Network Solutions); Network Solutions blames the programmer. We, who have less technical expertise than most, find ourselves stuck in the middle, clueless as to how to get things fixed.

So we've decided to make one, final, significant investment in the site: We're going to engage a new technical partner to both update the site's operation from database to front-end and to host the site on its own server. That way, if there's a problem, there's only one outfit to talk with.

From past experience, I can tell you that the process of redoing the website will not be quick, easy, or cheap. In regard to the last, get ready to see a "go fund me" or similar campaign to cover the costs. Those ads you see on the website don't generate much cash - at the going rate, it would take something over ten years to cover the cost of a rewrite. And that doesn't include the costs of hosting the site, domain registration fees, Internet service needed to do the research to build the underlying database, etc., etc.

January Site Activity:

January was a productive month. We added 176 new listings and lost 18 for a net gain of 158.

Database Statistics:

As of January 31, 2018, the database listed 23,152 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,752 cities. In total, those facilities have 25,137 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ).

There are now 7,405 listings in the United States (up 68 since December), 2,292 in the United Kingdom, 1,586 in France (up 2), 1,453 in Germany, 1,106 in Italy, 992 in Canada, 1,013 in Spain (up 47), 875 in Japan, 847 in Australia, and, 401 in the Netherlands.



End of Month Report for December, 2017

Date Posted: 1/1/2018 1:13:49 PM

Site News as of December 31, 2017:

December Site Activity:

December was a productive month. We added 138 new listings and lost only seven for a net gain of 131. We reviewed all of the listings in the Spanish Provinces beginning with "A" (Araba through Ávila) and in the U.S. States of Kansas and Alaska. We're a little more than half-way through Missouri and, when we get finished there, we'll go back to Spain for the provinces whose names begin with "B" and "C" (the Balearic Islands through Cuenca). After that, we'll take care of Arkansas and Louisiana.

Database Statistics:

As of December 31, 2017, the database listed 22,994 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,701 cities. In total, those facilities have 24,975 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ). By the end of January, we hope we will have crossed over the 23,000 listings and 25,000 pools mark.

There are now 7,337 listings in the United States (up 99 since November), 2,292 in the United Kingdom, 1,584 in France, 1,453 in Germany, 1,106 in Italy, 992 in Canada, 966 in Spain, 875 in Japan, 847 in Australia, and, 401 in the Netherlands.



End of Month Report for November, 2017

Date Posted: 12/1/2017 10:18:52 AM

Site News as of November 30, 2017:

Site Review Update:

November marks the third anniversary of the start of the second complete review of all the listings in the website. The first review began in March, 2011, and finished up at the end of October, 2014, just a bit more than three and a half years. That review concentrated almost entirely on finding the exact latitudes and longitudes of each listing. Anything else that obviously needed updating was corrected, but getting those GPS locations was the principal objective and it allowed us to add the map-based interface to the site.

In this second review, we're trying: to get the pool water temperatures for those listings that don't have them; to update the admission pricing; to resolve ambiguities as to whether listed facilities do or do not allow casual or "drop-in" admissions where we have said, up to now, that we don't know; and to add the names and website links to swim clubs that train at the listed facilities. Getting all that done while, at the same time, checking the facilities' names, addresses, URLs, telephone numbers, and email addresses, is taking more time and effort per listing. We figure that if we continue working at the pace we've maintained since November, 2014, we still have two and a half years to go.

And, if we continue adding listings at that same pace as we've been adding them, by the end of this cycle, in April, 2020, we should have more than 24,000 listings in the database.

November Site Activity:

November was another quiet month. We added 40 new facilities and deleted 16 for a net increase of only 28. We finished our review of the listings in France, completing checks of the listings in the last 14 departments, Tarn through Yvelines. While we were thinking in French, we also took care of French Guyana, French Polynesia, and the French West Indies. Then we did Andorra, followed by the American state of Oklahoma.

Going forward, we'll be working on reviewing the U.S. listings in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska; while also working on the listings in Spain, Portugal, and Gibraltar.

Database Statistics:

As of November 30, 2017, the database lists 22,863 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,664 cities. In total, those facilities have 24,835 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ).

There are 7,238 listings in the United States, 2,292 in the United Kingdom, 1,584 in France, 1,453 in Germany, 1,105 in Italy, 992 in Canada, 938 in Spain, 875 in Japan, 847 in Australia, and, to round out the "top ten", 401 in the Netherlands.

More than 94% of the listings include links to the facilities' own, official websites and 100% of them have been geocoded, so they can be found by using our map based search tool.



End of Month Report for October, 2017

Date Posted: 10/31/2017 8:16:44 PM

Site News as of October 31, 2017:

October was a pretty quiet month. We added 61 new facilities and deleted 13 for a net increase of 48. We continued our review of the French listings, completing checks of every facility we had in ten French departments: Pyrennes Atlantiques, Pyrennes Orientales, Rhone, Saone et Loire, Sarthe, Savoie, Seine et Marne, Seine Maritime, Seine Saint Denis, and Somme. They have only 245 entries on the site, but it takes a lot of work to check out websites written in a language one doesn't speak. And, since the vast majority of the listings didn't have the pools' water temperatures, we ended up sending an email information request or filling-out "Contact Us" form for just about every one of them, too. (Thank you, Google Translation Service!)

Just because we're concentrating on one country doesn't mean we're not working on others. The 61 new listings we added this month were in: Armenia, Canada, Chile, China (People's Republic Of), Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, French West Indies, Georgia, Germany, Japan, Italy, Qatar, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, and the United States.

CNN ran a couple of articles on its website about swimming pools in October: one about pools at luxury resorts; the other about pools in or near airports. We had to chase those down, too - even though it turned out to be mostly a waste of time. The authors were clearly not serous swimmers!

Gold's Gym:

Last month we asked for your help to find more Gold's Gym listings (see the September Monthly Report, below). We didn't expect we'd be inundated, but we figured you, who benefit from the site, might have something to contribute. Among the 60 new listings added to the site in October, there are 16 Gold's Gym listings - none of which was provided by a site user.

Database Statistics:

As of October 31, 2017, the database lists 22,838 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,653 cities. In total, those facilities have 24,800 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ).

There are 7,218 listings in the United States, 2,292 in the United Kingdom, 1,590 in France, 1,453 in Germany, 1,105 in Italy, 993 in Canada, 938 in Spain, 875 in Japan, and 847 in Australia, and, to round out the "top ten", 401 in the Netherlands.

More than 94% of the listings include links to the facilities' own, official websites and 100% of them have been geocoded, so they can be found by using our map based search tool.



End of Month Report for September, 2017

Date Posted: 10/1/2017 1:27:13 PM

Site News as of September 30, 2017:

As we mentioned in our August report, we interrupted our review of the listings in Texas at about the two-thirds mark due to the arrival of Hurricane Harvey. During the interruption, we continued working in France, completing reviews of all the listings in the departments of Pas de Calais and Puy de Dome and getting a good start on the department of Pyrenees Atlantiques.

We also added 174 new listings, mostly branches of the 24-Hour Fitness chain in the United States.

We returned to review the last third of the Texas listings beginning in the last week of September, but still have about 18 to go (out of a total of 414). There are some facilities in the Houston area that are not back up and running, yet. We'll try to get those updated as they come back on line, but visitors to the area will want to be sure to make independent contact with any facilities they're considering visiting before-hand.

Gold's Gym:

As we said last month, over the years, we've managed to go through the websites of the largest of the American health club chains (the YMCA, Bally's [R.I.P.], Life Time Fitness, LA Fitness, InShape, and, most recently, 24-Hour Fitness). As far as we know, that leaves only one major chain left to attack: Gold's Gyms.

With more than 700 facilities in 26 countries, Gold's is almost certainly the largest health and fitness club chain in the world. To our knowledge, Gold's is less aquatics oriented than the other clubs, but some of their branches do include swimming pools, and those that qualify need to be identified and added to the site. We have 34 of them listed, but we're not sure how to go about getting the rest. So we're requesting your help. If you know about a Gold's Gym with a swimming pool that's not already on the site, drop us a line (to BHaverland@SwimmersGuide.com and tell us where it is, with as much specificity as possible, please. We'll try to follow-up on your lead and we'll let you know if we have any success with it.

Database Statistics:

As of September 30, 2017, the database lists 22,790 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,642 cities. In total, those facilities have 24,752 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ).

There are 7,193 listings in the United States, 2,292 in the United Kingdom, 1,594 in France, 1,452 in Germany, 1,104 in Italy, 991 in Canada, 934 in Spain, 874 in Japan, and 847 in Australia, and, to round out the "top ten", 401 in the Netherlands.

More than 94% of the listings include links to the facilities' own, official websites and 100% of them have been geocoded, so they can be found by using our map based search tool.



End of Month Report for August, 2017

Date Posted: 8/31/2017 10:54:39 AM

Site News as of August 30, 2017:

This update is being posted a day earlier than usual, as we're going to hop into the car today (8/31) for a week's trip to visit friends and relatives in New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

In August, without realizing it, our list of facilities in the United States climbed over the 7,000 mark - we're at 7,035, today! And, as discussed in the section that follows, we're optimistic that we'll add another two or three hundred in the next month or so. When the site first went online, we had about 3,300 listings in the United States - the entire database, at that time. So we've more than doubled the "inventory" since then!

August Site Review Progress

In August we reviewed all of the listings in the French departments of Nord, Oise, Orne, and Paris (a total of 149 listings). We also completed reviews of the 46 listings in New Mexico. We were two-thirds of the way through the 363 listings we had in Texas, when hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast near Corpus Christi and wobbled in and along the shoreline for several days, exiting eastward to wreak its havoc over Louisiana and points north.

Since updating listings often requires telephone or email contact with the listed facility, and we know that Texans have more important things to do than answer questions about their pools' water temperatures or admission fees, we decided to suspend our Texas reviews for a month or so to let the folks there do what's really important - without bothering them with our frivolities. So we suspended our Texas reviews.

24-Hour Fitness

With a week left to go in August and 101 pools left to review in Texas, we needed to find somewhere else to review or something else to do between then and now. Over the years, we've managed to go through the websites of the largest of the American health club chains (the YMCA, Bally's [R.I.P.], LA Fitness, InShape, etc.), but hadn't figured out how to attack the 24-Hour Fitness chain. That chain's website doesn't make it easy to find its locations (it has no national map) and you have to slog through just about every location's website to figure out whether it has a pool and whether it's likely the pool will qualify for a listing.

To make a long story short, we decided to do a brute-force attack on the 24-Hour Fitness chain's website to find which of their locations needed to be added to the site - and we hit pay-dirt! So far, we've added about 30 locations in California and Texas - we have another 39 ready to be added in California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada; 62 that we need to call to pick up the pools' lengths and water temperatures in those states; and we don't know how many more in Utah, Colorado, and Florida, where the club has a major presence, as well as the odd location in Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Maryland, and New York, where it also has locations, but not so many.

Working on these should give our friends in Texas time to get things back closer to normal - they are in our thoughts every day as they work through their disaster.

Database Statistics:

As of August 30, 2017, the database lists 22,625 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,626 cities. In total, those facilities have 24,585 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ).



End of Month Report for July, 2017

Date Posted: 8/1/2017 12:19:38 PM

Site News as of July 31, 2017:

In July, we finished answering the emails and site "Edits" that you all posted while we were away. We were also able to complete reviews of all the listings in Utah (90 listings) and Colorado (205 listings) in the US, and the departments of Loir et Cher, Loire, Loire Atlantique, Loiret, Lot, Lot et Garonnne, Lozere, Maine et Loire, Manche, Marne, Mayenne, Meurthe et Moselle, Meuse, Morbihan, Moselle, and Nievre in France (a total of 229 listings).

In the just over 1,000 days since we started the second total site review, we've gone through more than 13,000 listings (61% of the total). If we continue at the same pace, we'll complete this round in May or June, 2019.

In August, we'll try to tackle New Mexico (46 listings), Texas (363 listings) and the French departments of Nord, Oise, Orne, and Paris (a total of 157 listings).

What a "Review" entails:

When we review a listing, we're checking all of the hypertext links in the listing: Web address, Google Maps, swim team links, and any others interspersed in the other text of the listing.

We're also redirecting the Google Maps links in the listings from the ones where we originally targeted the latitude and longitude settings for the link to ones directed at Google points of interest, where the pools' locations have already been identified and marked on the map. These Google points often have photographs attached to them, which we think makes them especially helpful. (And, if Google hasn't identified a pool on a map, we send them the information to add it.)

We check the pools' street addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and the admission price information, updating them if necessary. (You'd be surprised how many pools' street addresses change over time!)

In this round of reviews, we've taken a special aim at trying to find the water temperature of the pools, if we don't have that information in the listing. Pool water temperatures are not a standard piece of information available on most pools' "official" websites (the ones we identify as "Web address" in the listings) so, if the information isn't readily available, we try to contact the pools to collect that data. For listings in the US and Canada, it's easy to just pick up a telephone and get the water temperature; for countries in distant time zones, getting the information entails contacting the pools by email or completing an online form. And if English is not the standard language in the pool's country, the question has to be translated from English to the other country's language. We sent more than 300 emails in July, most of them in French.

A second priority target of this round of reviews is to pick-up information about the various swim teams and aquatic clubs that use the listed facilities. We don't track the statistics on teams and clubs added to the site, but we try to do some sort of Google or other search. In the US, USA Swimming's https://www.swimtoday.org/ website is particularly helpful, although it is not as up-to-date as it ought to be...

All of this can be slow, tedious work - and we don't always get everything right - but we're confident that we're providing more useful, more accurate information about more pools than anyone else on the Internet.

Database Statistics:

As of July 31, 2017, the database lists 22,581 swimming facilities in 179 countries and 12,622 cities. In total, those facilities have 24,542 full-size, year-round pools (as we define those terms in our FAQ).