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This edition of the WaterShapes newsletter carries two unusual articles. One is Victoria Lautman’s piece on the stepwells of India; the other is Lauren Stack’s look at water-related trends and the importance of helping more people learn to swim.


I wrote more than two years ago about my amazement in coming across a reference to stepwells, an architectural form that was prominent centuries ago in certain Indian regions but little known beyond the Subcontinent. My discovery after all these years of a form of watershaping that had previously been unknown to me was one source of my reaction. The other was the odd recognition that a beautiful structural genre had effectively gone unnoticed in the non-Indian world: How on earth could such splendid construction and engineering escape global attention?

I was then delighted to learn that a journalist named Victoria Lautman was preparing a book on stepwells – and then thrilled to hear after publication that she was willing to let WaterShapes adapt parts of her text to highlight three of the most outstanding examples of the stepwell form. The first is on Chand Baori (click here). The second and third installments will appear in the next two months.

Victoria and I had some interesting back and forth about my desire to interject references to modern watershaping to set a clearer context for understanding the achievement of the designers, engineers and builders behind the stepwells. In many cases, for example, these structures reach down 100 or more feet into truly difficult soil – a challenge for builders of any era. But she wanted to stick to India’s past, suggesting that modern watershapers would gain more by exploring the echoes and parallels on their own. I had to agree: It’s more fun this way!

But as wonderful as her three articles are, they’re just a tiny sampling of the treasures on display in her book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India. If the first of her articles with WaterShapes captures your attention to anything approaching the level of enthusiasm the whole book has conjured in me, I can’t think of a better stocking stuffer.


Through the years, I’ve written several WaterShapes World blogs about what might be described as a crisis in swimming education: With high costs constraining the building and maintaining of readily accessible and affordable public pool facilities, it’s been getting harder and harder for children (or adults, for that matter) to learn to swim. And as I have stressed more than once, having people be comfortable in and around water is the foundation for watershaping’s future.

While I was in my booth at the International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo in November, I heard a presentation in the Genesis education space that caught my ear because it seemed as though the presenters had been reading my mind – and had done a substantial amount of research in building their case on a much sounder foundation than I ever had.

Afterwards, I approached Lauren Stack to see about working the presentation into a WaterShapes article, and you’ll find the well-reasoned, deeply persuasive result by clicking here.

What impresses me most in the text is information about programs that already exist to get people of all ages involved with water. These are the future purchasers of homes with pools or homes that need them. These are people who vote for bond issues in local elections that lead to the installation of public pools. These are folks who appreciate ponds, fountains and waterfeatures and understand on a gut level just how nice it is to be near water.

When you finish reading Lauren’s article, get involved! The National Swimming Pool Foundation (for which Lauren works) has made it easy for you to support swimming education in your own local communities through donations to Step into Swim (at Know that, with each contribution, you are helping mankind, building business relationships and advancing watershaping for generations to come!

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