What’s it like to swim in a swim spa?

Unravel the mystery behind why not all swim spas are built for swimming and find out how to choose the perfect one for your needs. Learn about the best swim spa brands, the elements that make for an exceptional swimming experience, and explore options beyond swimming for versatile use. Whether you're a serious swimmer or seeking family fun, our guide will help you make an informed decision.

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

Published Nov 20, 2023

Swim spas have existed for nearly 40 years now, but they are still a new product for most people. So we understand at Hydropool when people come in and ask questions from people who are both curious and skeptical. 

One of the major questions people have about swim spas is: “Can you actually swim in it?”

The answer is yes. But yes, there is a catch: you can swim in some swim spas. Emphasis on some. 

We know that sounds odd. But we’re going to explain exactly why in the very next section. We just want to quickly cover what we’re going to discuss overall. 

In this article we’re going to explain:

  • why are only some swim spas built for swimming
  • what to look for in a swim spa you can really swim in
  • what to look for in one you don’t want to swim in

And by the end of the article, hopefully, you’ll know more about what kind of swim spa you’re looking for! 

Why can you only swim in some swim spas? 

You can only swim in some swim spas because some swim spas today are built for swimming while others are built for recreation. Some are built to be places to hang out and have family fun in and act as pool replacements. Or they can act as loungers and essentially be really big hot tubs. They might be called swim spas, but they were never designed for swimming in the first place.

So while they are all called swim spas, or endless pools or swim pools – different companies sometimes use different names – you can’t swim in all of them. Some just aren’t made for that. So one of the first decisions you want to make if you’re shopping for a swim spa is: “Do I actually want to swim in it?”

How can I swim in a swim spa? 

Let’s say you do want to swim in it. Then your next question is precisely: “How can I swim in a swim spa?” 

Our first answer is this: If you possibly can, try one and find out. A decent retailer will have one with water in it. You can find the closest Hydropool outlet by clicking here.  

Okay, that’s if you want to rush to the store. But which store to rush to? And which swim spa should you try? 

Which swim spas offer the best swim? 

That is a great question. Because we said that not all of the manufacturers focus on swimming right? What we mean by that is for example, Hydropool makes the 13-foot FFP, which is called the Family Fun Pool. It has jets and you could do a little paddle in it, but it's not great for swimming. 

If you’re a decent swimmer you can move up to our Aquatic series and if you’re an elite swimmer we have our Executive series. There is a Hydropool swim spa model for every level of swimmer from the novice to the triathlete.  

We don’t want to just talk about ourselves here though. Other companies also offer swimming performance. You can read all about other swim spas in this article called “What are the best swim spa brands?”   

Is a swim spa a good swim? 

A swim spa provides a great swim. Because you never hit the edge of the pool, you can spend the entire time perfecting and concentrating on your stroke.

  • A good swim should have a strong, consistent current that is wide enough for you to be able to use your arms and legs to their full extent without being worried you’re going to be moved out of the current’s flow to ensure you have a good swimming experience.
  • A good swim shouldn’t feature a “rooster tail” of water coming up and hitting you in the face while swimming from its built in current system. The current from the swim jets should be strong but without a great deal of spray.
  • Like a treadmill, it should allow you to change the current as you develop or for days when you aren’t up to swimming as hard as you can.

How does a swim spa work? 

A swim spa is like a hot tub stretched out so that you have space for swimming.

At the front, swim spas are equipped with swim jets or a turbine designed to create a current. You swim into the current, and the current is strong enough to keep you from reaching the end of the pool.   

Originally, the companies making them – Endless and Master Spas are examples of other leading swim spa manufacturers - focused on making them just for swimming. It was buyers who started using them for a variety of other options, such as a full-sized swimming pool replacement, larger hot tub or as a centre for aquatic fitness. So manufacturers began to accommodate them. 

Here's a short video that shows in detail how our Executive series works.

Swim spas also include hot tub features, such as seats and massage jets. The number can vary. There are also swim spas with separate but attached hot tubs if you want the best of both worlds in one.

What if I want to use my swim spa as a pool?

Then you are like thousands of other people who have invested in a swim spa for other uses! What you don’t want to do here is overpay and buy a swim spa with swimming capability you don’t need. If you're buying a swim spa for the pool parties, you don't need an elite swimming machine.

Most retailers will have a variety of options for you: 

  • At Hydropool, we have the AquaPlay line, which is for family fun. It has jets for swimming, but it’s primary purpose is as a large hot tub.
  • We also have the Aquatic line and the Executive collections. The Aquatic line is for people who want the best of all worlds: Some swimming and some fitness, along with a good hot tub experience.
  • The Executive line is for more serious swimmers. Within both the Aquatic and Executive lines you can order what’s called the Trainer series of swim spas – these are for the most elite swimmers, with the Executive having our elite swim.

Other manufacturers take a similar approach to having a range of functions for their swim spas. Endless Pools has an actual treadmill you can get as an option to run right in the water of your spa. Arctic makes cedar cabinets for its swim spas and bills them as “all weather pools.” Bullfrog, Jacuzzi and others make more luxury-oriented spas. So there’s a range out there!

What’s it like to swim in a swim spa? 

We hope this article gave you a good idea of what it’s like to swim in a swim spa. We wrote this article because we know that not everyone knows that you can swim in a swim spa. It’s one of the most common questions we get. 

We also wrote it to let you know what else you can do in a swim spa. Many people use them for activities beyond swimming, especially as pool replacements since they cost less. 

Swimming in a swim spa is the kind of thing best experienced in person though and we highly recommend it. A local retailer will let you try before you buy. If you’d like to find your local retailer, head here

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