THE INSIDER GUIDE TO SWIMPOOLS

6 expert tips and 2 money-saving secrets.

If you’re looking for a way to have it all in a small space, a swimpool (also known as a swim spa, plunge pool or endless pool) is a great choice.

More affordable and easier to maintain than a small pool, a swimpool checks all the boxes for a busy, active family: entertainment (boogie boarding springs to mind), fitness (swim laps without a single turn), adventure (think kayaking!) and a relaxing soak (with therapeutic jets).

But you probably know all that already. You’re looking for the insider tips and money-saving secrets, right? Then we’ll get right to it.

TIP 1: SIZE IT RIGHT

You can install a swimpool almost anywhere (basement, deck, a sunroom, or in a small yard), but the size you choose will depend on how much room you have and what you dream of doing there. Prioritize to make sure you have room (and money) to do them well. Different sized swimpools also offer different experiences. A swimpool smaller than 12 feet is little more than a spot for one person to do aquatic aerobics. A medium-sized swimpool (14 to 16 feet) offers room for family fun and fitness. The largest swimpools offer the most room for swimming, soaking, entertaining and games of water volleyball.

Different sized swimpools also offer different experiences. A small swimpool (up to 12 feet) is little more than a spot for one person to do aquatic aerobics. If you love to soak, you’ll save money and get a better therapeutic experience from a hot tub. A medium-sized swimpool (12 to 16 feet) offers room for family fun and fitness. Large swimpools (17 to 18 feet) are great for larger groups and older kids. The largest swimpools offer the most room for swimming, soaking and games of water volleyball.

Questions to ask:

› What are the most important backyard activities for me and my family?

› Once I have a swimpool, how might I use my yard differently?

› What will we want to do the most in the pool?

› When do we plan to move?

› How might my family's needs change over that time?

THE NEXT STEP

Measure and draw the entire area you want to put your swimpool. (Free online space planners are great if you want to forego the pencil and paper.) Be sure to incorporate all of the other features you want to keep or include, such as eating and lounging areas. If you want to use an outdoor swimpool in the winter, consider the experience you want to have getting to the pool as the mercury drops, as this may influence its location in your yard.

FROM THE EXPERTS

Consider these factors when locating your swimpool: the view (from inside and outside the pool), how you'll get in and out of the pool, where you'll store your hard cover while swimming and where splashes will go.

TIP 2: MAKE A CHECKLIST OF YOUR MUST-HAVES

Put together a list of the features and specifications of the swimpool you want. This will help you stand strong against high pressure sales tactics and stay focused in an industry that's full of distracting bells and whistles. It can be overwhelming to put together a checklist, since no two manufacturers offer the same thing (or, if they do, they don't use the same word for it!) It can also help to start with what you want to do with the swimpool: spend time with family, work out, or both. The rest of the checklist can flow from your choice.

 

Questions to ask:

› What do I want to use the swimpool for?

› What features can't I live without?

› How do different manufacturers compare on these criteria?

› How do different models compare on these criteria?

 

THE NEXT STEP

An internet search can be a good place to start. Blog posts and YouTube videos may be more helpful than product information on manufacturer's websites, which can be pretty jargon-heavy. A good retailer will also help you identify the features you can't live without and assist you in comparing manufacturers and models on what matters most to you.

 

FROM THE EXPERTS

Add-ons and optional extras have different value and usefulness. Ask your retailer which ones are the big sellers.

TIP 3: CONSIDER THE FUN FACTOR

When they first came on the market, swim spas were the darlings of high performance athletes who would train hard in the swim lane, then recover with a relaxing soak. Today, their appeal is more for families who want the experience of a pool with a smaller budget and yard. Turns out a swimpool with a wave pool feature (surf's up!) and comfortable massage seats is so much more fun than a small pool. You can also up the fun factor by choosing a swim spa that requires less maintenance than the competition.

 

Questions to ask:

› What kinds of activities can my kids do in the pool?

› Are the jets forceful enough to create a wave pool effect?

› In what ways can the pool make my workout more enjoyable?

› What features can I add to the swimpool to increase its entertainment value?

› How comfortable are the spa seats?

› Is there an ice well and drink holders?

› How many massage jets are there?

› How frequently is 100% of the swimpool water filtered?

 

THE NEXT STEP

Drop by a reputable retailer and talk to one of their staff about how to maximize the fun and minimize the headaches of swimpool ownership. Once you find a company you like working with, book a trial swim (see Tip #6). There's no better way to experience the fun-factor first-hand.

 

FROM THE EXPERTS

Fun-focused features to look for include: rowing machines, in-wall stair climbers and LED waterfall fountains. Stay away from Bluetooth stereo systems as they don't work well as part of a swimpool.

TIP 4: THINK SWIM

Even if you aren't looking for exceptional resistance training, your swimpool should still be fun to swim in. We recommend looking at three things when you're researching the swim experience. First, ask about the swim jet system. Look for a system that provides a smooth, turbulence-free swim current and make sure that the swim jets have a consistent flow rate that is able to produce a current that is flat and powerful. Second is the ability to "dial in" the resistance, so swimmers can customize their swim. The final feature that is crucial to the swim experience is the shell design. Look for a wide, deep channel with no protruding steps or seats that's long enough for a long-legged and long-armed swimmer to enjoy.

 

Questions to ask:

How easily can I swim against the current?

How turbulent is the swim current?

› Is the swim jet flow rate consistent?

› Is there anything in the swim channel design that would get in the way of my swimming?

› Does the swim channel design produce backsplash?

› How will I stay in the swim lane?

› Are there focus points so I can identify where I am in the swim lane?

› Can I change the resistance?

 

THE NEXT STEP

If the quality of the swim experience is important to you, the only way to know you'll be happy is to try it out for yourself by booking a test swim.

 

FROM THE EXPERTS

Look for stabilization jets that push you to the middle of the swim lane, rather than any other type of strap or harness system.

TIP 5: CHOOSE A REPUTABLE MANUFACTURER

You can buy a swimspa made in China off Amazon, but we definitely don't recommend it. You want a manufacturer who builds quality products that can withstand a Canadian winter and are supported by a good warranty: 10-years on the structure, 5-years on the acrylic surface and a 3-year parts and labour warranty. Be sure to ask whether the warranty is prorated, meaning it gets less comprehensive as your swimpool gets older, as this is common in the industry. A local manufacturer is handy in case you need parts and service and your retailer has stopped carrying that brand.

 

Questions to ask:

› How long has the manufacturer been in business?

› How long have they been making swim spas or swimpools?

› Where are the products made?

› Where is the manufacturer located?

› What is the warranty?

› Is the warranty prorated?

› What percentage of customers need service during the warranty period?

› What are the manufacturer's certifications?

 

THE NEXT STEP

Search for swim spa or swimpool manufacturers online. What are customers saying? Do you like the company's website? Ask your friends and family who have hot tubs what their experiences have been with the products, too—many hot tub manufacturers have gotten into the swim spa game, too.

 

FROM THE EXPERTS

Ask about the jet technology used by the manufacturer. Are bearings used? (These can corrode quickly.)

TIP 6: TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

Different swim spa manufacturers and different models made by the same manufacturer offer different experiences, and the only way to be sure you've found the right fit is to dive right in. (Well, don't dive. But definitely take a dip.) Sit in the spa seats, try out the swim lanes, do a mini-workout, and see what the wave pool features (if any) are like. If you have kids, make sure they try the swimpool, too. A good swimpool retailer will make it easy and welcoming to put a swimpool through its paces, offering private appointments and making it fun for the whole family.

 

Questions to ask:

› Can I schedule a private swimpool test?

› What's it like to get in and out of the swimpool?

› How loud is it?

› What is the swim experience like?

› What is the massage experience like?

› What does it smell like?

› What do the kids think?

 

THE NEXT STEP

Drop by a reputable swimpool retailer or make an appointment to talk to one of their staff members. How helpful are they? How well do they know the products? How carefully do they listen to your needs and concerns? If you like your experience and you think one of their swimpools will be a good fit, book your trial swim (also called a "wet test").

 

FROM THE EXPERTS

A swim test is a great reason to choose a retailer with a bricks-and-mortar store. Other things to look for in a retailer: onsite water testing lab, in-house service department and years in business.

MONEY-SAVING SECRET 1: ENERGY EFFICIENCY

It's one thing to buy a swimpool, and something entirely different to pay to keep it running, especially if you want to use it during a chilly winter. Look for a swimpool or swim spa that's approved by the Commission for Environmental Co-operation (CEC). Ask how long it takes for the swimpool to filter 100 per cent of the water, since the faster the water is filtered, the more energy efficient the swim spa will be. Also look for models that use low-amperage filtration pumps, reuse the heat from the pump motor to heat the water, have a well-insulated hardcover, and have adjustable venting.

MONEY-SAVING SECRET 2: INSTALLATION

Where you put your swimpool will affect your installation costs. Above-ground installations are the least expensive. Budget between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on how easy it is to get the swim spa to its final destination, whether a new concrete pad needs to be poured, and whether you require any electrical work to be completed. For an in-ground installation, you'll save on the cost of a cabinet, but your installation will cost more because it requires excavation, below-ground structural support and drainage. If you're installing your swimpool indoors, you'll have to consider the costs of ventilation required to deal with extra humidity.

Let us email you a link to download our guide as a convenient PDF. 

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