There is a growing trend for the swim spa plunge pool in Australia, with many people now choosing them over regular swimming pools. But what is the difference, and which is the better option for you?
Here we take a look at the swim spa phenomenon and answer all your most frequently asked questions about these popular swimming pool alternatives.
About the swim spa
Swim spas are a highly convenient way to enjoy both swimming and hydrotherapy in the comfort and privacy of your own backyard. They are a more compact size than regular swimming pools, but they are equipped with some great technology so they can serve a number of different purposes.
The main purpose of a swim spa is relaxation. As anyone who has ever been in a spa pool knows, there are few things in life more relaxing than sitting in a spa surrounded by bubbles, feeling the hydrotherapy jets relieving your stress and working the knots out of your muscles. This is one of the main advantages of swim spas – they come with their own hydrotherapy jets, so at the end of a long and tiring day, you can simply slip into your own private spa pool and feel the tension melting away.
Hydrotherapy is also extremely beneficial as a physiotherapy treatment. It is ideal for anyone suffering from a painful condition such as arthritis, or recovering from a muscular injury, as it relieves pain and helps to promote faster healing of injuries.
The other purpose of a swim spa pool is, as its name suggests, for swimming. As a swim spa is designed to be a combination of a pool and spa, and they tend to come in small sizes, the amount of swimming space is fairly limited compared to what you could expect from a regular swimming pool. However, in addition to the hydrotherapy jets, swim spas also come equipped with swim jets. These provide added resistance in the water, so when they are turned on, you can essentially swim in one place and it is the equivalent of swimming however many laps you choose, without the need to turn in the pool.
These features make swim spas highly practical, and it is easy to see why they are currently such a popular pool option. But it is important to understand more about swim spa sizes, prices and installation options, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, in order to make an informed decision about whether this type of pool is right for you.
How large is a swim spa?
Like all types of swimming pools, swim spa sizes vary greatly. They are almost always smaller than even a small regular swimming pool, however, with the average length ranging from 5 to 6 metres and the average width from 2 to 2.5 metres. If you want a particularly small swim spa, however, it is possible to find models with a length of 4.5 metres and a width of 1.5-2 metres.
The small size of a swim spa is advantageous for people who live in properties with smaller backyards, such as in most Australian cities. It can be difficult to find a swimming pool to fit comfortably into a small site, so a swim spa can be a good solution, also offering you the benefits of hydrotherapy as well as swimming.
When you are looking at swim spa sizes, however, it is important to be aware that not all of the space in a swim spa is usable for swimming. Swim spas are designed more for relaxation purposes, so they do contain large seating areas, like you would expect to find in a spa pool. This compromises the amount of swimming space in your swim spa. Some models actually specify how large the swimming area is compared to the spa area, but this is not something all manufacturers do, so it is important to ask before you buy. Different models have different amounts of swimming space, so you need to choose the one which best suits your needs and priorities.
How easy is it to install a swim spa?
The installation of your swim spa will depend on how you want it to look, and whether you want to be able to move it to different locations. It will also have a major impact on your budget, so this is something you need to consider carefully before making your decision.
Most models are designed to be above ground swim spas. This means they come as complete units, and are designed to sit on top of the ground rather than having to be built into your backyard. This is the cheapest way of installing a swim spa, as the ground does not need to be excavated – the swim spa simply needs a level surface to sit on. The other main advantage of installing a swim spa above ground is that it will be ready to use almost straight away, as soon as it has been connected to an electricity supply and filled with water. This makes an above ground swim spa ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to wait to use their new pool.
In addition, an above ground swim spa is portable, and can easily be transported to different locations. This means you do not have to leave it behind if you ever choose to move home, enabling you to get maximum value and enjoyment from your investment.
The main disadvantage of above ground swim spas is their appearance. Like most spas, they simply sit on the surface of the ground, and there are not usually a lot of customisation options available, so they can look a little ungainly and unattractive. This is why some homeowners opt to have an inground swim spa installed. Doing this gives you more control over the appearance of the area around your spa, and makes it look much more as if it was designed as part of your property.
However, installing an inground swim spa is a much more complicated and costly process, as your backyard needs to be excavated and the pool installed in the ground. This can take days or weeks, and will cost you considerably more than an above ground swim spa, so it depends whether you prioritise cost savings, instant usability or appearance as the most important factor in making your decision about your swim spa installation.
How much is a swim spa?
Swim spa prices vary greatly, depending on the model you choose and how you want the swim spa installed. For a high quality, above ground swim spa you are likely to pay anything between $15,000 and $30,000. While still a major investment, this is significantly cheaper than a full-sized swimming pool of the same high quality.
It is possible to purchase a swim spa for much less than this, with some models advertised for as little as $5,000. However, it is important to check that their build quality is sufficient to withstand regular usage, as safety is always the most important factor in any swimming pool.
If you prefer the appearance of an inground swim spa, you need to be prepared to pay considerably more than the prices given here, as the work involved in the installation is far greater and more complicated. An inground installation always needs to be done by a professional, licensed pool builder, as this gives you a far greater degree of safety, and also offers you the protection of a warranty in the unlikely event of anything going wrong, so it gives you financial peace of mind.
Swim spa vs pool: the verdict
Really, this depends entirely on what you want from your swimming and relaxation experiences. Swim spas are easy to install, comparatively cheap to buy, and they offer you a wide range of different benefits, all in a compact space. They are ideal for anyone who prioritises relaxation and is happy to swim against jets rather than swimming real laps. They are also a great choice for those with smaller blocks, as they give you the option of having your own swimming pool without needing to own a massive property.
For serious swimmers, however, swim spas are probably not an ideal pool choice. Competitive swimming times are always measured in water with a natural current, so swim jets are not going to give you a realistic idea of your lap times as the conditions are different. Families also might be better choosing a larger pool, as the size of a swim spa is simply too restrictive for a family to enjoy time in the water together.
However, if you are looking for a cost-effective, instant solution, a swim spa could easily be a good choice for you.
Do you have a swim spa? Are you considering purchasing one? Do you want to find out what other swim spa owners think of their pools? Join the swim spa vs pool discussion by leaving a comment below!