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Swim Spas: The Perfect Combo
Learn the benefits of a swim spa and how to find the best model to fit your needs.
By Rachel Harper
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “swim spa,” but think it sounds like a spa you can swim in or a pool you can soak in, you are correct! These hybrid products combine the relaxing massage jets of a hot tub with the ability to swim laps in a pool. A swim spa features an adjustable-speed swim current at one end so users can swim in place. That’s why these units are sometimes called “swim-in-place pools” or “exercise/fitness pools.”
Beyond lap swimming and hydrotherapy, swim spas also have plenty of room for aquatic exercise. With so many benefits and functions, swim spas are gaining popularity among homeowners. Learn more about the types of swim spas and available options so you can choose the best swim spa to fit your needs and lifestyle.
Swim Spas: Types of Currents
One of the biggest differences among swim spa units is the system creating the current. It’s always good to test out one of the models at your local dealer so you can make sure you are happy with the motion of the current. The three different types of currents are jet propulsion, paddlewheel, and propeller.Jet propulsion systems, or pressure-driven systems, force water through one or more jets to create a current. They are typically powered with a 4-HP motor and can be adjusted to speeds up to 8 mph. Some jets permit users to adjust the direction of the current for a more customized water flow.
Paddlewheel swim spa systems are powered by a rotating paddlewheel at one end of the swim spa. The wheel produces a smooth current across the entire width of the spa, moving in a layered, sheet-like flow that can reach as deep as 2 feet. The water is then circulated under the swim current and returned back to the paddlewheel.
Propeller-powered swim spa systems create a wide, deep, smooth current. A propeller forces water through a grate in the spa wall; the water continues toward a second grate on the rear wall, which keeps the water circulating. The water typically travels back to the propeller through recessed channels, which are sometimes concealed in bench seats or beyond the walls on either side
Swim Spas: How/Where to Install
Like hot tubs, swim spas are pre-manufactured self-contained units that can be installed indoors or outdoors. You may choose to place them on a deck, in a particular section of your yard, in a sunroom, or an exercise room. Some owners choose to install them inground and build a stone, wood, or brick deck around it. This creates a finished look and an attractive area to spend time relaxing when using its therapy jets.
Swim Spas: How Much Do They Cost?
Swim spas range in price based on size/depth, style, current type, number of jets, and optional features. Compact models start at $18,000. They may include therapy jets and bench seat at the non-current end of the swim spa. These basic swim spa models are ideal for consumers on a budget and those with small pieces of property.
Most mid-size and large swim spa units have a base price of $25,000 to $35,000 to which various options can be added. Items such as underwater treadmills, bikes, and sound systems may increase the price by another $1,000 – $10,000. These models typically have several molded seats with therapy jets, and several larger deluxe units even have an adjoining 4- to 5-person hot tub with a separate temperature control.
Swim Spas: Aquatic Exercise Equipment
The current on a swim spa functions much like the tread of a treadmill: You swim against the current the same as you walk, jog, or run against the moving tread. In fact, you can even have a treadmill in your swim spa. An optional add-on for many models is an underwater treadmill, as well as an elliptical machine or bike. Using these common fitness machines in an aquatic environment means your muscles work harder against the water’s resistance.
Photo courtesy of Master Spas, Inc., and Oyster Bay Beach Resort, St. Marteen
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