Dan Ekema – navigating the depths of pool plant knowledge and education

Pool plant knowledge and education is pivotal to Daniel Ekema’s role as Pool Plant Programme Leader at the Institute of Swimming. We talked to Dan about his career history and his current role:

Where it started

Dan has worked in and around pools for many years. His time in the industry began with work experience and job shadowing linked to the sports centre at his school. When he was 16 years old, he was a Sports Centre Assistant and Lifeguard before before becoming a Duty Manager. This was followed by a long stint as Sports Centre Manager from 2008 to 2022. At some points, he did dip out of the industry to take on a number of different roles. Most notably, he was the ‘Chip Boy’ of an award-winning fish ‘n’ chip shop in Dorset which appeared on TV series The Big Breakfast and he also worked at an indoor paintball arena as an Assistant Manager. Whilst these were enjoyable, these jobs couldn’t keep Dan’s attention away from pools.

Industry experience

Daniel Exema, Pool Plant Programme Leader outside the SPATEX exhibition
Daniel Exema, Pool Plant Programme Leader outside the SPATEX exhibition

Throughout his time in the pool industry, Daniel has developed a wealth of hands-on plant room experience and knowledge. This ranges from standard pool water tests for chlorine, pH and water balance, to operating and maintaining pool plant with key responsibility to correct pool water and plant room issues. And just for good measure, his experience extends to assisting with major pool plant works too.

As a Sports Centre Manager he was actively involved in operating and maintaining the plant room. This was alongside staff training and ensuring that checks and reviews of pool test data were completed.  This ensured everything was working properly and in line with PWTAG guidance. However, results being recorded on paper was far from ideal for staff analysing the data so Dan saw this as an opportunity. He created a business providing a software system for pools around the country. His “geeky love of spreadsheets” helped with this! Dan said,

“By creating this system it has helped my knowledge and experience of pools to dive deeper (pun intended), broadening and expanding on previous industry knowledge.”

Dan’s current role

His vast experience and knowledge has brought him to his current role. Now, he is Programme Leader for pool plant at the Institute of Swimming. His focus is to help educate the pool industry with the Institute of Swimming’s pool plant course programme. He also represents the Institute of Swimming in the PWTAG training forum. He leads the planning and delivery of pool plant courses for over 3,300 pool plant operators each year across the UK. And he works closely with RLSS UK ensuring course content is up-to-date and in line with the PWTAG Code of Practice, Technical Notes (TN) and Swimming Pool Water (Blue book).

Dan said,

“I am passionate about helping the pool plant industry to understand their pools and plant rooms better through education. An increase in chemical incidents last year is a prime example of how easily issues can develop due to a lack of awareness and/or safeguards. Helping to prevent future occurrences is a key focus of mine to build into the development of the pool plant programme.”