It’s always fun to predict what the future will bring and we do it all the time, from guessing who will win Oscars to New Year forecasts. In 1972, Pool News (as the magazine was called then) asked industry professionals what they thought the pool of the future would look like. Some of their predictions hit the mark, while others were way off.

For starters, they enthusiastically predicted automation. “The pool of the future will need very little personal operation or maintenance,” said one. “Completely automated” and “the effortless pool,” others called them. But one gent had reservations: “I can see an emphasis on automation in the future, too, but I don’t know how successful the industry will be with that because there’s an awful lot involved.”

Another said he saw a trend toward more efficient heaters and the like, while another predicted “vast improvements in chlorination,” pointing to “a new [chlorinator] coming out shortly that will use common table salt.” He added that pools will “look more natural, and we’ll get away from blue and white finishes.”

It might surprise pool builders of today to learn that most of those pros thought the trend would be lead away from gunite. “Our future lies in the direction of the prefabricated pool, what we call the vinyl inground pool,” one builder said, adding, “I see pools being built in factories, then transported out [to job sites]. … Gunite, I think, will go back to where it was 25 years ago [1950s], when only the very rich could afford it.”

Another chimed in: “Hand-skilled craftsmen will be harder to find, so the industry will rely more on manufactured pools and components. I think it’s inevitable.”

All this got me to thinking, so I’m going to make a prediction. I’ll go ahead and say that the retractable floor – made famous by that dance scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” – will become commonplace in indoor pools by the late 21st century, allowing many facilities as well as homeowners to have extra space for dance floors or big parties when needed.

What do you think the pool of the future will look like?