What is a Swim Spa? The Answer to Your Home Pool Needs!

What is a Swim Spa

Have you ever wondered what swim spas are? Well, you’re in for a treat! A swim spa is a fantastic hybrid between a swimming pool and a hot tub, providing you with water exercise options similar to a pool, along with the therapy benefits of a hot tub.

Swim spas are portable, self-contained units that you can install flush into a deck or simply place atop a hard surface, like a concrete slab. They offer an ideal solution for those who don’t have space for a large pool or want the added convenience of year-round use. Plus, you get to enjoy the soothing jets and perfect water temperature any time you please.

In this article, you’ll discover the benefits and features of swim spas, such as aquatic fitness and relaxation, as well as the differences between swim spas and traditional pools. Keep on reading to find out if a swim spa is the right addition for your backyard oasis!

How Do Swim Spas Work?

Since a swim spa is a combination of a swimming pool and a spa, you get the opportunity to exercise in water like you would in a pool, while also enjoying the therapeutic benefits of the spa jets.

A major selling point of a swim spa is its jet system, which is designed to create a water current that simulates the sensation of swimming in a river or ocean. This allows you to swim in place against the generated current despite the limited space.

Swim spas provide you with a challenging and effective workout and the intensity of the current can be adjusted to suit swimmers of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced.

  • Swimming: The continuous water flow created by the jets allows you to swim in place, making it an ideal space-saving solution for those who want a pool for exercise but may not have ample room.
  • Aquatic fitness: Swim spas can accommodate a variety of low-impact water workouts, such as jogging, walking, and even cycling, which helps reduce stress on your body while providing an efficient calorie-burning exercise.
  • Therapy and relaxation: Equipped with massaging spa jets, a swim spa allows you to indulge in hydrotherapy sessions to soothe sore muscles, improve circulation, and promote overall relaxation.

Swim spas are available in various sizes to match your needs and preferences. These units are often more energy-efficient than traditional swimming pools, providing you with a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option.

Moreover, they can be installed indoors or outdoors, granting you the flexibility to swim, exercise, and relax year-round.

It’s essential to understand that swimming in a swim spa is different from doing laps in a still-water pool. Instead, the experience is more like swimming in an open body of water, such as a lake or ocean.

As a swimmer, you’ll need to adjust your body position and engage your core to stay balanced during your exercises. Mastering this technique can help elevate your swimming skills and increase your overall fitness level.

In the sections below, we will go on a deep dive into each of the points brought up in this overview.

Benefits of a Swim Spa

Fitness and Exercise


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Endless Pools (@endlesspools)

One of the main benefits of having a swim spa at your disposal is the opportunity for fitness and exercise. You can get a full-body workout just by swimming in place, which engages all of your muscles and joints at once.

Swim spas can also be used for other forms of water-based exercise, such as water aerobics and hydrotherapy. The resistance provided by the water helps lessen the strain on your joints and muscles, allowing you to exercise safely and effectively.

Relaxation and Stress Relief

Swim spas can also be a fantastic tool for relaxation, perfect for those stressful days when you want to unwind. With adjustable water temperatures and jet options, you can enjoy a hydrotherapy massage that eases tension and soothes sore muscles.

Not to mention, listening to the sound of waterfalls and other water features can have a calming effect, making your swim spa an excellent place to escape the daily grind and recharge.

Entertainment and Socializing

Your swim spa doesn’t have to be just for exercise and relaxation; it can also serve as a hub for entertainment and socializing. Many swim spa models come equipped with music systems and Wi-Fi controls, allowing you to create a vibrant, fun atmosphere for your guests.

Having a swim spa also makes a unique and engaging focal point for backyard gatherings and events, helping you create memorable experiences with friends and family.

Swim Spa Features

A swim spa combines the best features of a swimming pool and a hot tub, creating an enjoyable and versatile space for water exercises, relaxation, and entertainment. In this section, we’ll explore the main components that make up a swim spa and how they contribute to the overall experience.

Swim Current System


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Endless Pools (@endlesspools)

In a swim spa, the swim current system is the heart of the action. This system creates a strong, steady current that you can swim, jog, or walk against, providing a full-body workout at your desired level of intensity.

The current is adjustable with varying degrees of granularity depending on the model, so you can easily tailor the resistance to your fitness level and goals. Additionally, most swim spas come with a range of pre-set workouts and programmable options, enabling you to customize your exercise routine.

Filtration and Sanitation

Just like a pool or a hot tub, a swim spa requires a filtration and sanitation system to keep the water clean, clear, and safe for use. Swim spas typically use a combination of filtration methods, including cartridge filters and skimmers, to remove debris and contaminants.

To sanitize the water, chemicals such as bromine or chlorine are commonly used or you might find systems using ozone or UV-light to keep the water free from harmful bacteria.

Heating and Insulation

Maintaining a comfortable temperature in your swim spa is essential for enjoying its full suite of benefits.

Swim spas typically include a built-in heater that can be adjusted according to your preference. The heating system generally consists of an electric or gas heater that warms the water as it circulates through the system.

Good insulation is also important in a swim spa to retain heat and reduce energy consumption. High-quality swim spas often feature energy-efficient insulation materials for better heat retention and lower operating costs.

Lighting and Audio

To enhance your swim spa experience, many models offer built-in features such as lighting and audio systems. LED lights can be placed under the water or around the perimeter of the swim spa to create a soothing ambiance or a fun, party-like atmosphere.

For an immersive audio experience, built-in speakers and Bluetooth connectivity allow you to listen to your favorite music or podcasts while you swim, exercise or relax in your swim spa.

Swim Spa Installation Options

When it comes to installing your swim spa, there are multiple options to choose from. To help you decide, let’s discuss the three most common installation types: Above-Ground, In-Ground, and Partially In-Ground.


Above-ground installations are a popular choice as they are typically the most accessible and easiest method.

With this option, you’ll need a solid and level foundation, usually a reinforced concrete pad. The pad should be at least 4 inches thick to support the swim spa’s weight and prevent cracking or warping due to temperature changes.

Once the foundation is ready, you can place your swim spa directly onto the pad, connect the necessary electrical and plumbing components, and customize your surrounding space with decking or landscaping.


In-ground installation involves placing your swim spa in a specifically excavated area, which often requires professional assistance.

This type of installation offers a seamless and integrated look, blending well with your outdoor space. It can also provide easier access for those with mobility issues.

Note that the installation process can require more time, effort, and budget, as additional landscaping and finishing work must be completed. However, the results can be aesthetically appealing and add value to your property.

Partially In-Ground

As the name suggests, partially in-ground installation is a mix between the previous two options. Your swim spa is placed into an excavated area, but its top remains above ground level, creating a more subtle and streamlined appearance.

Similar to in-ground installation, this option requires excavation work and possibly additional landscaping. However, it’s an excellent choice for those looking to strike a balance between aesthetic appeal and ease of access.

Remember, each installation option has its pros and cons, so consider your specific needs and preferences before making a final decision. Always consult with a professional installer to ensure a safe and proper installation process.

Swim Spa Maintenance

Keeping your swim spa well-maintained is crucial for your enjoyment and its longevity. Having a routine in place can make it easier for you to manage. This section highlights key maintenance aspects, including water chemistry, cleaning, and winterizing.

Water Chemistry

Proper water chemistry is essential for ensuring a safe and enjoyable swim spa experience. You should regularly check and adjust the water’s pH, ideally between 7.2 and 7.8, using a test strip. It’s important to maintain a constant free chlorine level between 1 and 3 ppm.

Keep the following aspects in mind:


Your swim spa requires regular cleaning to stay in great condition. Here’s a quick overview of the tasks you should perform:

  • Rinse the filters once a week to remove debris and buildup.
  • Wipe the spa cover and cabinet, keeping them free from dirt and grime.
  • Don’t forget to clean the headrests as well, as they can collect buildup over time.
  • Consider scheduling yearly inspections with an expert to ensure all components are functioning optimally.


If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, it’s essential to winterize your swim spa. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Drain the water from your swim spa to prevent freezing and potential damage.
  2. Blow out any water from the pipes, fittings, and jets using a wet/dry vacuum.
  3. Add an antifreeze solution to the pipes for extra protection against freezing temperatures.
  4. Remove and clean the filters before storing them in a dry, cool place.
  5. Securely cover your swim spa with a weather-resistant cover, ensuring it’s protected from snow, ice, and debris.

By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure that your swim spa remains in excellent condition and that you can enjoy its benefits for years to come.

Choosing the Right Swim Spa

Choosing the perfect swim spa will depend on several factors that fit your specific needs and preferences. This section will help guide you through Size and Space Requirements, Budget Considerations, and Warranty and Support.

Size and Space Requirements

Keep in mind that swim spas come in various sizes, from compact models for space-conscious homeowners to larger units accommodating multiple users or specialized features like a built-in treadmill.

Just how big and deep is a swim spa? The average swim spa size is 12 to 20 feet long, 7 to 10 feet wide, and five feet deep. Of course, there are swim spas even bigger than that.

After deciding on the size of your swim spa, make sure to measure the area where you plan to install the swim spa, including any additional space needed for access, maintenance, or landscaping.

Budget Considerations

Your budget will significantly influence your swim spa options. Swim spas can range from affordable models to high-end units with advanced features, such as customizable jet systems and hydrotherapy options.

The initial average cost of a swim spa ranges from $10,000 to $30,000 depending on the model, size, features, materials, designs, and performance, with additional costs that go into installation, accessories and maintenance. Low-end swim spas can cost as little as $7,000, while the most expensive swim spas can exceed $75,000 or more.

Make a list of the features you deem essential and prioritize those within your budget to avoid overspending.

Warranty and Support

Consider the warranty and support provided by the swim spa manufacturer. Look for comprehensive warranties that cover key components like the shell, pumps, and heater.

Warranties can vary significantly between brands, so it’s essential to familiarize yourself with their terms and conditions. Customer support can play a crucial role in your swim spa ownership experience. Having a reliable support system for product information, troubleshooting, or maintenance will make your investment worthwhile.

By carefully considering size, budget, and warranty options, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the swim spa that best fits your needs and enjoy numerous benefits like regular exercise, relaxation, and hydrotherapy.


A swim spa can be an ideal choice for you, offering the perfect blend of swimming and relaxation. With a variety of models and features available, finding the right one depends on your needs and budget.

Consider the benefits of owning a swim spa, such as:

  • Exercising in the comfort and privacy of your own space
  • Getting a full-body workout by engaging all muscles and joints
  • Less strain on joints and muscles during exercise
  • Burning calories and improving flexibility and muscle strength

Take the time to research and consult with swim spa experts, so you can make an informed decision. Remember, a swim spa is an investment in your health and well-being, and finding the right one for you will enhance your overall experience. Happy swimming!


Photo Credit: Rob Campbell CC BY-NC 2.0