What is a Swim Spa?

Dan Cavallari

As an alternative to a full sized pool, swim spa is a great option for people who want the ability to swim at home without taking up the entire yard. A swim spa is a small pool equipped with a series of powerful jets on one end. The jets provide a current against which a person can swim, essentially staying in one place the entire time. The swimmer never reaches the end of the pool, and never has to turn around. A swim spa can also be part swimming area, and part hot tub area, depending on the model purchased.

A swim spa allows swimming for exercise in a small space.
A swim spa allows swimming for exercise in a small space.

Many versions of the swim spa are modular, made from several pieces and are movable and customizable. This allows the owner to set up the pool in a wide variety of spaces, indoors and outdoors. Other versions are simply an acrylic mold that can be placed into a hole cut in a deck. Still others are made the same way as portable hot tubs: an acrylic mold is set into a wooden frame with all the heating and jet motor equipment contained within the unit. A relatively new option is the self-contained jet motor unit, which can be placed in an existing pool to provide a current against which a user can swim.

The most common version of the swim spa is one body of water with powerful jets on one end. The unit itself can range anywhere from 12 feet (3.65 meters) to 20 feet (6.09 meters) long to allow plenty of room for swimming strokes. Other units are split into two sections: one section is used for swimming, while the other, smaller unit is used as a hot tub area. The units are separated by a piece of acrylic or Plexiglas®, and the two separate bodies of water can be heated or cooled to different temperatures.

While the cost of a swim spa is not exactly low, it is a better option from a budgeting standpoint than building a full in-ground pool, and in many cases even an above-ground pool. The cost of the swim spa, depending on the brand and features chosen, will be slightly more than a high-end hot tub and less than a full in-ground pool. Some swim spas are portable, meaning if the owner chooses to move, he or she can take the spa with him, though moving is not always easy.

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