How to Choose a Swim Spa
A swim spa can offer a lot of different activities.
Is the Swim Spa for Swimming, Aquatic Exercise, Relaxing or Partying?
Most swim spas will let you do all of the above but some are more orientated to exercise, some to relaxation.
If you think that you might swim some but mainly you want to be able to play with the kids, a shallower water depth and less expensive current generation system could be the best choice.
If relaxation is important, you will probably want a generous supply of massage jets. Molded seats ensure you are not pushed out of position by the currents. If you want to invite your friends, the more seats the better.
For underwater exercise machines you will need a solid, durable, flat base. Fiberglass or stainless steel give the most secure base.
There are a lot of attractive extra features to look out for like aromatherapy, LED and fiber optic lighting, water falls, built in stereos, air blowers etc.
How is the Water Current Generated?
For serious swimmers, the way the current is generated is one of the most important considerations.
The first swim spa manufactured was the Swimex. It still has one of the best ways of generating a current to swim against. A large paddle wheel at the back of the swim spa draws a wide, deep current of water through the spa ensuring a laminar, chop-free flow. You will have no trouble staying afloat and no white water to battle against.
The Swimex uses a paddle wheel to deliver a powerful current with little turbulence.
Propellers can also generate a steady water flow but it is not as deep and wide as a paddle generated current. The advantage is that the system is cheaper to manufacture and propeller systems are often found in mid-price swim spas. Endless Pools, H2X and Swimmers Edge all use propeller systems.
Swim jets create water flow with the most turbulence. Manufacturers are constantly adjusting how swim jets perform to make sure the current provides buoyancy as well as resistance but they still offer the least enjoyable experience.
Resistance Tether Swim Spas
It is possible to swim in place using an elastic tether attached to the swimmers body. This is a system used by many athletes for endurance training. The drawback is the turbulence and waves created by the swimmer.
Swimergy have a specially designed pool to suppress waves.
Cal Spas offer a tether system in some of their swim spas.
Swim spa shells are usually made of fiberglass or acrylic. Fiberglass shells can split or the layers can separate if they are not well made (‘one piece construction’ manufacture is best).
Acrylic shells will not split and are very durable as long as the framing is sufficiently strong. Acrylic reinforced with fiberglass is the most rigid.
Bradford swim spas are made of stainless steel with tile overlays. They are very durable but also expensive and usually only an option for hydrotherapy centers and resorts.
A swim spa with a built in ozone generator needs little chemical input or maintenance time to stay fresh and safe to use.
The big expense is heating. If you are going to use the swim spa as a hot tub outdoors, at around 95 degrees, it will eat up the electricity in cooler weather. If you are happy with about 80 degrees- a good workout temperature- it will be pretty economical from spring to fall.
Swim Spas with separate spa and swimming areas like the H2X Momentum and Swimmer’s Edge Duo can save money. There is no need to heat a large volume of water for a relaxing soak!
An indoor installation will not add too much to electrical costs if the room is already being heated.
Solar power heating is a very practical way and economical way to heat any pool or spa.
In Ground or Above Ground?
Most above ground swimming spas situated outside need a four inch concrete base to rest on plus an electrical and water supply. They can be finished with side panels or built into decks.
If you want to install in-ground, it is worth getting a firm price from a local contractor for site preparation before you purchase. Remember to think about local codes for safety issues.
If you live near a swim spa dealer they will be happy to let you slip into a bathing suit and try out their swim spas!.
Most swim spas come with a floating thermal cover or simple wind-over vinyl cover to help retain heat and keep out debris. The problem is that these really fall short of doing the job. That’s why we recommend the SpaCap Swim Spa Cover from SpaCap.com
It is light enough to be handled easily, and yet insulates far better than any foam filled swim spa cover. It is the only swim spa cover available factory direct offering a wide range of Sunbrella Marine Fabric colors.