Keith’s Corner – “Steps Toward The Ultimate Pool”

February 2017


Keith’s Corner –

“Steps Toward The Ultimate Pool”

By Keith Coursin, President, Desert Aire Corp.

Desert Aire Notes: This is the first weblog posted under the title of Keith’s Corner. We plan to use Keith’s Corner as a meeting place to share personal observations and insights with Desert Aire’s community.


Can the often-feuding manufacturers of airside and waterside products come together to help create the ultimate indoor pool?

Don Baker thinks so. He’s the President & CEO of Paddock Evacuator and Paddock Pool Equipment Company, and his organizations hosted an event recently that made a believer out of me.

The event was The Paddock Ultimate Pool Conference, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, January 25 to 27 at the Mint Museum.

The goal of the Conference was to have industry leaders move toward providing pool users with the best possible environment to enjoy their indoor aquatic experiences – The Ultimate Pool.

There in one place at one time were pool builders, aquatic consultants, pool equipment suppliers, chemical suppliers, commercial pool dehumidifier suppliers, swimming coaches and U.S. Olympic swimmers.

Insights into getting it done

The Conference started with a keynote address from Jimmy Blackmon of Out Front Leadership. Mr. Blackmon is a former military commander from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.

In his address Mr. Blackmon provided insights into how the new, modern military had to adjust its management style in the Afghanistan conflict. He set the stage for the Conference by outlining the leadership process the group could use to help create the The Ultimate Pool.

He said our group must create a vision of what we want The Ultimate Pool to be, and then create an industry culture that provides the means to achieve this goal. 

According to Mr. Blackmon individual organizations and their leaders must provide the following pillars of support to help achieve the vision:

  • Climate
  • Trust
  • Empowerment
  • Innovation
  • Initiative
  • Talent Management

So if we are to create The Ultimate Pool, I propose the following start to its Leadership Guide and definition of Vision and Culture that will help create it.


That all indoor pools will provide comfortable, safe areas for all aquatic users; and that manufacturers will provide owners and operators with well-defined paths for maintaining the facilities for long useful lives.


Create a DNA for the industry that is passionate about designing, building and maintaining the indoor pool correctly. Prevent the waterside and airside from pointing fingers at one another - saying the other is to blame when something goes wrong. Instead find a method to get the two sides communicating with one another because both are responsible for the solution.

Provide ongoing education for industry professionals as to what are the best practices that must be provided to achieve The Ultimate Pool.

The signs are good

At the Conference an early indication of the potential our combined group has for success was the panel discussion I moderated on Indoor Air Quality.

The 7 members of the panel represented designers, chemical suppliers and airside equipment manufacturers. This may have been the first time some pool builders ever had the chance to talk with the airside of the business. A great conversation occurred and would have gone on for much longer had we not already exceeded our time limit.

The Conference ended with an address by Thomas Lachocki, Ph.D., CEO of the National Swimming Pool Foundation. He shared his goal that every person in the United States should be taught to swim. The creation of ultimate pools is a cornerstone of this goal by providing facilities where more and more people enjoy the benefits of getting in the water. Dr. Lachocki’s presentation provided attendees with the emotional spirit to continue the quest of the Conference.

Expanding the conversation

My takeaways from the Conference, its panel discussion and presentations is that indeed the waterside and airside of this business want to work together, but for too long our voices were never brought together. We have a lot of work to do to expand the conversation, but I truly believe a major step in achieving the goal of The Ultimate Pool occurred in Charlotte.

Many thanks to Don Baker for having the extraordinary vision and passion to step forward and sponsor this first gathering of aquatic pool professionals.

-- Keith Coursin

Keith Coursin has participated in pivotal indoor pool industry efforts, including development of the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code as well as ANSI/ACCA standards detailed in HVAC Design for Swimming Pools & Spas (Manual SPS).

Photo A: Keith Coursin, president of Desert Aire, (center) leads a panel discussion on Indoor Air Quality comprised of waterside and airside pool industry leaders.

Photo B: Paddock Ultimate Pool Conference leaders included, from left to right, David Marsh, head coach of the 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s swim team and CEO/Director of Coaching, SwimMAC Carolina; Katie Meili, member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Team and gold, bronze medal winner; Don Baker, president and CEO of Paddock Evacuator and Paddock Pool Equipment Company; and Jimmy Blackmon, leadership expert and former U.S. Army commander.

Contact Desert Aire to collaborate on commercial pool design and dehumidification.