Joe Hunsaker was a rare individual whose innate creative and entrepreneurial spirit turned a passion into a lifetime of service to the aquatics community.
He was the designer of over one hundred 50 meter competition and recreational pools for swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming. He developed water feature designs for leisure pools including the very first leisure pool in the United States. Hunsaker championed competitive swimmers and their pools for over sixty years. Most elite swimmers past, present and future have or will compete in one of Joe’s pools.
In 1970, Joe and James E. “Doc” Counsilman PhD, Joe’s former swimming coach, joined forces to create Counsilman / Hunsaker & Associates (CHA), a consulting firm serving architects and owners in the creation of international class swimming pools. Counsilman’s reputation of developing Olympians and world record holders, more than any other coach, and Joe’s experience as a champion swimmer, management company owner and award-winning designer soon brought prestigious projects to their door.
CHA’s corporate philosophy has always been advocating for swimmers behind the scenes. He assembled key professionals and friends with swimming backgrounds who enabled his business to thrive. The firm currently has offices in St. Louis, Denver, and Los Angeles serving a national and international clientele.
Joe became a champion swimmer giving him insight into the pools he was designing. At 130 lbs and 6’1” was planning to try out for the basketball team, but while waiting for that season to begin, he went out for the swim team and soon realized he had a talent for swimming. He won a National YMCA Championship (1955), the NCAA National Championship in the 200 yard individual medley (1958) while at the University of Illinois and one AAU U.S. National Championship also in the 200 yard individual medley (1959).
Joe was active on the national scene as a Board Member of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, the International Swimming Hall of Fame and ISHOF’s International Congress. He was President of the National Swim and Recreation Association and a board member of the Internationale Academie fur Baderbauten und Freizeit Hallen in Germany. He was Chairman of the Public Pool Council of the National Spa and Pool Institute and member of the Safe Diving Research Committee.
Joe was editorial advisor for Aquatics Magazine International and an editor for “Swimming Pools - A Guide to Their Planning, Design and Operations”. He served as a U.S. Delegate to the International Academy for Aquatic Sport and Recreation Facilities and was President of Midwest Pool Management Corporation, as well as the Swim Facility Operators Association of America. He was a member of the Editorial Committee for the CNCA and many other aquatic organizations. He has published over 20 articles and periodicals on subjects relating to pool designs.
Hunsaker was recognized as one of the premier designers of international class competition pools, receiving numerous Facility of Merit Awards, and four Gold medal national awards for design excellence. He was principal in charge of building venues for the 1996 Olympic Games (Atlanta), 1994 Commonwealth Games (Victoria), 1993 World University Games (Buffalo), 1998 Goodwill Games (Long Island, NY) and 1987 Pan American Games (Indianapolis).
Other CHA pools include: Stanford University, the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, Ohio State University, University of Georgia, Cleveland State University, University of Arkansas, St. Peters RecPlex in Missouri, Central Oahu Regional Park International Swim Center, Cambridge University, New York University, University of Iowa, Franklin-Marshall College, Georgetown Preparatory School, Guam Sports Complex, Indiana University, Kenyon College, NRH20 Water Park, Lahaina Aquatic Center in Maui, Miami University, Northwestern University, Southern Utah University, and Mississippi State University, Wesleyan, University of Minnesota, Virginia Polytechnic, Slippery Rock, Mississippi State, Baylor University and MIT.
Joe Hunsaker passed away March 11, 2012 at age 74, having struggled with multiple sclerosis since 1978 and cancer recently. He is survived by his wife, Charmaine, and three children, Stephanie, Eric and Scot, who currently serves as Counsilman-Hunsaker president.
Joe loved competing, watching his children grow up, traveling and designing swimming pools for world records and for pleasure. He was a generous and courageous man who will always be remembered for his kindness.