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What Is a Plunge Pool?

Plunge pools are often used in conjunction with saunas.
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  • Written By: Donn Saylor
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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A plunge pool is a natural or man-made basin at the foot of a waterfall. Also known as a plunge basin or a waterfall lake, plunge pools can occur naturally in bodies of water or be crafted as garden features by landscape professionals. They are traditionally small in breadth but very deep, allowing swimmers to plunge into the water's depths.

At the base of certain waterfalls, the pressure of the falling water creates a deep impression in the bed of the river into which it spills. The force of water commonly carries rocks, stones, and other debris, which wears away at the sides of the riverbed until deep, natural pools are formed. This type of plunge pool is considered an early stage of erosion in the lifespan of a river.

Natural plunge pools can be found all over the world. Iceland, Costa Rica, Mexico, Hawaii, and Thailand are well-known spots for travelers seeking plunge pools under the cascade of a powerful waterfall. Many hotels, resorts, and spas offer rooms with private plunge pools on the property.

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Artificial plunge pools can be popular add-ons to gardens or backyards. They have been shown to be a highly beneficial form of sustainable landscape architecture as they are much less expensive to heat, cover, and care for than traditional swimming pools. A plunge pool is often incorporated into an existing landscape design as an in-ground basin, either with or without a man-made waterfall. The small pools are designed for a quick, cooling plunge — not for swimming laps — and are sometimes used in conjunction with a nearby sauna.

The majority of man-made plunge pools are built under the same guidelines as home swimming pools. These rules ensure that building codes and sanitation requirements are met effectively. They also guarantee that safety precautions are in place for the secure utilization of the plunge pool.

Some plunge pools can also be installed indoors. Since these units are exceptionally deep, they are fitted quite low into the ground. Indoor plunge pools are often heated, providing swimmers a comfortable, temperature-controlled dip.

Plunge pools do more than make an attractive snapshot or offer a quick, cooling dunk. They offer a type of alternative healing known as cold water therapy. A quick submersion in cold water is thought to offer several health benefits. Among these perks are blood pressure stabilization, stronger immune function, and mood stimulation.

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