Swim spas, which are a combination of a pool and a hot tub, offer a unique blend of swimming, exercise, therapy, and recreation for the whole family. When people first set their eyes on a swim spa, they often wonder what it is exactly – is it a big hot tub or a pool? And the most common question that follows is, “does it really work?” The answer is a resounding “yes” – swim spas are highly effective and offer numerous benefits. They are considered one of the greatest innovations in the history of the pool and spa industry, as they are affordable, portable, energy-efficient, therapeutic, and can be used year-round.
Most swim spas, also known as swim-in-place pools, are portable and self-contained, sitting above ground. They are typically made of acrylic for the surface, fiberglass for the backing, and wood or steel framing. They are always rectangular in shape, with industry-standard footprints. The width of a swim spa usually ranges from 90″ to 94″ (~8 feet), depending on the brand, and the height ranges from 42″ to 60″, again depending on the brand. Swim spas come in various lengths, such as 8′ x 12′, 8′ x 13′, 8′ x 14″, 8′ x 15′, 8′ x 16′, 8′ x 18′, and even up to 8′ x 24′. Some swim spas come in “L” shaped configurations. There are also available in “dual temp” configurations meaning they have a separate hot tub section and separate swim area each with their own equipment and set of control to keep two separate temperatures (102-104 degrees for the hot tub and 80-85 degrees in the pool).
There are different types of swim spas available on the market, each with its unique features and benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of them:
- Jetted Swim Spas – These swim spas use a pump and motor to generate a current that you can swim against. They typically have 2-8 swim jets, and most of them use a 2-speed pump to control the flow rate through the jets. Some manufacturers plumb 1-2 swim jets per pump, allowing you to adjust the current levels based on your swimming ability. The most superior type of jetted swim spas are those with adjustable current systems, which use a variable flow pump or similar technology to adjust the flow from the jets. Examples of swim spa brands with adjustable current systems include Master Spas, TidalFit Swim Spas, and HydroPool Swim Spas. Jetted swim spas may have round or rectangular swim jets, with rectangular ones often referred to as “river swim jets.”
- Propulsion Swim Spas – These swim spas use a propeller design to generate a current of up to 5000 gallons per minute. The size and material of the propeller may vary between brands, affecting the performance of the swim spa. The propeller creates different levels of swim current based on its speed, which can be easily controlled through the topside control panel. Propulsion systems offer a smoother, larger, and more laminar current at the water level and below, and they do not use air, resulting in less turbulence and better visibility. However, propulsion swim spas are generally more expensive than jetted systems and typically have more proprietary technology which makes them more costly when it comes to repairs and maintenance. Some popular swim spa brands that emphasize propulsion systems include Master Spas, Michael Phelps Swim Spas (owned by Master Spas), PDC Swim Spas (TruSwim), and Endless Pools, with PDC TruSwim Spas featuring a unique dual hydraulic propeller system.
- Paddle Wheels Swim Spas – SwimEx is the only brand offering this patented swim current system, which uses paddlewheels. The SwimEx Paddlewheel is known for its wide, deep, and smooth system. However, buyers should consider the after-warranty costs associated with maintenance and repairs, as they can be more expensive due to the proprietary nature.
For more information visit our hot tub buyer’s guide pages. Also, click on the pink boxes and complete our free local quote form to get competitive prices from local dealers in your area. Or click our “Spa Buyer’s Consult” link above to get one on one expert advice on the best swim spas available in your area.