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Swim spa vs. swimming pool

10 Minute Read

Swim spas have become very popular as of late as an alternative option to a swimming pool or a traditional hot tub. This is for great reason, as a swim spa has appealing attributes of both a swimming pool and a hot tub. However, if you are looking to compare a swim spa versus swimming pool to determine which you would like to add your own backyard oasis, we can help. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between a swim spa vs. swimming pool as well as amenities that make each one a valuable contender for your water wellness needs.


What is a swim spa?

Swim spas first hit the market in the 1980s but did not become popular until about 2010, when consumers began to realize they were also a lot of fun for families to play in, exercise in and simply relax in. Just after that, they were fine-tuned to offer dual temperature options — making them somewhat of a hybrid of a traditional swimming pool and a hot tub.


A swim spa is designed for in-place swimming and big enough to enjoy time with family and friends. A swim spa is typically larger than a hot tub and has an elongated rectangle shape to allow for a central in-place swimming area as well as jetted seats around the perimeter.


A swim spa is equipped with jetted hot tub-style seating around the perimeter to provide relaxation and rejuvenation like a spa. In addition, a swim spa is designed for fitness training. A swim spa has strong jets that create a current that users swim against for a challenging aquatic aerobic workout, much like swimming laps in place. This type of workout is easy on the joints and the current is customizable to be less or more challenging as users build their endurance and strength. There are a number of accessories to enhance the fitness aspect of the swim spa including equipment, fitness kits and apps that you can purchase.


Essentially, a swim spa allows you the opportunity for fitness and relaxation in one efficient unit. As with space, swim spas are also efficient in usage. Controls allow you to adjust your water temperature so you can use your swim spa for exercise and or relaxation all year round. A swim spa is ideal for smaller backyards and those that want to take advantage of water workouts (and incredible hydromassage therapy) throughout the four seasons.


As with temperature adjustment, a swim spa can be equipped with technology to help simplify and manage usage. Like a hot tub, swim spas also offer seating options. Swim spas are ideal for hydromassage, water workouts, and general relaxation. However, they don’t provide as much as space as a swimming pool for group gatherings, large families, and water activities such as diving, floating around the surface of the water on a raft, or water volleyball, for example

what is a swim spa

What is a swimming pool?

We know most people have the basic understanding of what a swimming pool is. But swimming pools can be very different from one another. For example, there are in-ground and above ground options. An in-ground swimming pool, as the name suggests, is built into the ground in your yard. In-ground swimming pools can be custom built very deep to accommodate diving or shallow for a play pool-style option. They can be custom-shaped and even include an in-ground spa adjacent to the pool. An above ground swimming pool is a much less permanent — and much less expensive — option. An above ground pool is certainly a more portable option, but customizations are limited, if any.


They do have jets, but these are not designed to provide a current that you could swim against for a water workout, nor do they provide true hydrotherapy as specialty jets of a hot tub would. The jets of a swimming pool rather aid in water movement for circulation and filtration.


You can still get an efficient water workout by doing laps in a swimming pool. However, there is no current working against you as in a swim spa, which adds another level water resistance creating a more challenging workout. In a traditional swimming pool, after only swimming several strokes, you’ll already reach the end of the pool and have to do a flip turn. Whereas a swim spa allows you to continuously swim against the current while improving your conditioning and technique much more effortlessly than in a small backyard pool.


The water temperature of a swimming pool is another area that differs from a swim spa. While you can have a swimming pool heated, typically the water is not heated to the degree of a traditional hot tub or swim spa, the highest of which is 104 degrees Fahrenheit.


In general, swimming pools are great for families, gatherings, and water play such as diving in the deep end or water games. If you’re looking for a social and entertaining place for the whole the family and also for friends, a swimming pool might be the option for you.


Swim spa vs. swimming pool, which is better?

This question should really come down to “swim spa vs. swimming pool, which is better for you?” Based on your needs and desires, a swimming pool isn’t necessarily better than a swim spa or vice versa. Prior to making your decision on swim spa vs. swimming pool, ask yourself a few of the following questions:


How much space does my backyard have to accommodate a swimming pool or a swim spa?

Do I want a space for socializing and play or aquatic fitness training and relaxation?

How important is massage therapy to me?

Will I use the swim spa or swimming pool all year round?


Hopefully by answering these questions and with the information we’ve provided, you can make the most educated decision for yourself and your family. Before making a final decision, we also suggest visiting a swim spa dealer or swimming pool company to answer any lingering questions.


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Medical disclaimer: This information is not intended to prescribe a particular diagnosis or course of action. We are not medical professionals. Please contact your GP or other medical professional for advice if you have any concerns about your current health or well-being.

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