Swim spas are an increasingly popular alternative to regular swimming pools in Australia. But what is a swim spa, and what are its advantages and disadvantages? How much is a swim spa to buy? Are there any alternatives which would suit you better?
Here we take a look at the swim spa in detail, and answer all your questions so you can make an informed decision about the best pool type for you.
What is a swim spa?
As its name suggests, a swim spa pool is basically a cross between a spa and a swimming pool. It is smaller than a regular swimming pool, but larger than a spa, so it offers enough space to swim in. However, like a spa, it is equipped with spa jets, so you can enjoy the benefits of relaxation and pain relief that hydrotherapy offers. This is ideal if you want to enjoy the spa experience in the privacy of your own property, and can be particularly beneficial if you are recovering from a muscular injury.
Many swim spas also offer the option of swim jets in addition to the hydrotherapy jets. These help to make your workout more intensive by offering more resistance in the water, so you are basically swimming the equivalent of a long distance within a relatively small space. This way, even though there is not an extensive amount of swimming space in a swim spa, you can still enjoy the improved health, fitness and muscle strength that swimming provides.
How are swim spas installed?
Most swim spas come as “plug and play” designs. This means they arrive as a complete unit, requiring very little ground preparation or installation work, as they sit on top of the ground rather than having to be built into it. An above ground swim spa is ready to use practically as soon as it arrives – it usually just needs to be hooked up to an electrical outlet and filled before you can start enjoying it.
Above ground swim spas also have the added advantage of being portable, so that if you ever decide to move house, you can take your swim spa with you, enabling you to get the most out of your investment. However, some homeowners do not particularly like the look of an above ground swim spa, as the appearance is difficult to customise and it is not always practical to have a large object sitting on top of the ground in your backyard.
It is possible to have an inground swim spa installed. This involves a considerable amount of extra work, however, as the ground in your backyard will have to be excavated before the installation can take place, just like it would with a regular inground swimming pool. Because of this, your swim spa will not be ready to use for days or possibly weeks, depending on the ease or difficulty of the installation process. However, the results can look sleek and sophisticated, enabling your swim spa to blend in more seamlessly with the rest of your property, and creating a dual-purpose swim spa plunge pool combination.
Whether you choose an inground or above ground swim spa, the safety regulations are the same as they would be for a full-sized swimming pool. Your swim spa will still require fencing in accordance with Australian Standard 1926, so this is something to consider when planning your swim spa installation.
Swim spa sizes
Like all swimming pools, swim spa pools are available in a range of different sizes and shapes. However, they are designed to be smaller than regular pools, as their primary function is relaxation, although the swim jets do enable you to swim effectively within the space.
The average swim spa in Australia tends to have a length of 5-6 metres and a width of 2-2.5 metres, although these sizes do vary. A small swim spa can have a length of 4.5 metres and a width of just 1.5 metres. It is important to note, though, that the overall size of a swim spa is different from the amount of usable swimming space it contains. Swim spas tend to have large seating areas, as they are primarily used for relaxation rather than swimming. This means the area of the pool which you can practically use for swimming can be considerably less than its overall dimensions suggest.
Swim spa advantages and disadvantages
As swim spas are relatively compact, they can be a good solution if you do not have a lot of space in your backyard. This is why swim spas are particularly popular in Australian cities, where land is at a premium and blocks tend to be small. Swim spas do enable you to enjoy swimming and hydrotherapy in even a relatively small backyard. However, this small size also has disadvantages. Swim spas are not an ideal choice for families, as only one person can comfortably swim in a swim spa at any time. This rules out family swimming sessions and water games.
In addition, swimming against swim jets is a very different experience to swimming against a natural water current. If you swim seriously, swim jets are not ideal, as competitive swimming always takes place in natural conditions, so you will not gain a realistic idea of your times and progress if you are practising in a swim spa. Young children might also struggle with swim jets, as they can be too powerful for someone who is not a strong swimmer.
However, a swim spa can be a great addition to your backyard, as it offers the dual benefits of swimming and the spa experience on your own property. With effective landscaping and proper maintenance, they can also look highly attractive, and increase the aesthetic appeal of your backyard.
Swim spa prices
One of the more attractive elements of a swim spa is the relatively low cost in comparison to a regular swimming pool. A top of the range above ground swim spa will cost you between $15,000 and $30,000, although you can purchase a cheaper model for a much lower price than this. As always when making a major purchase, however, it is essential to do your research and check that you are purchasing a good quality swim spa which will last a long time and be safe to use.
If you want an inground swim spa installed, you can expect to pay more than these prices, as there is so much extra work involved in installing any pool inground. This job has to be carried out by a professional pool builder, as mistakes can be costly and also highly dangerous.
Overall, considering the amount of features a swim spa has, it does offer good value, making it an attractive option, particularly if you are on a budget.
Alternatives to swim spas
If a swim spa isn’t quite what you’re looking for, there are a wide range of alternatives to swim spas in Australia. Two of the most popular options are spa pools and plunge pools. At Compass Pools Sydney, we are able to offer a range of beautiful inground spas, waders and plunge pools from Compass Pools. These are super-strong fibreglass pools with ceramic cores, manufactured to the very highest standards using the latest in swimming pool technology. They are also easy to customise, with a range of sizes, shapes and colour options available.
However, if you would like all the benefits of hydrotherapy but with more space for swimming, you could consider a pool and spa combo. This is a full-sized swimming pool with a spa section added, so the whole family can enjoy the pool while you are chilling out in the spa, or you can enjoy some relaxing hydrotherapy after concentrating on your lap times. Obviously, this comes at a higher price than a swim spa, but there are a wide range of different options available to suit all tastes and budgets.
As a different alternative to an above ground swim spa, you could consider a Little Pool. These are smaller versions of full-sized fibreglass swimming pools, made to the same high standards, but they are portable, easy to install, and instant to use. They can also look more attractive than swim spas, thanks to the extensive range of exterior cladding and pool colour choices they offer. Even though the swimming space is smaller than in a regular pool, it is still larger than most swim spas, and you have the option of including swim jets if you want a more intensive swimming experience.
More information about swim spa alternatives
If you would like to know more about our spas, plunge pools or pool and spa combos, please contact us. Our team at Compass Pools Sydney will be happy to answer all your questions and advise you on the different options we can provide, so you can find the right pool or spa for you.