How to Buy a Swim Spa: Avoid the Top Mistakes When Buying a Swim Spa

By Jon Filson

Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas

Published Jul 04, 2024

It can happen. We’ve seen it happen. Don’t let it happen to you!

Making a mistake buying a swim spa is a real fear. Most swim spa buyers are first-time buyers. And you don’t know what you don’t know. So the concern about making a swim spa mistake, especially given the cost involved, is real. 

We get it. We see this concern frequently in our Hydropool stores. So let’s talk about it! 

In this article we will go through the top mistakes people make and tell you how to avoid them. They include:

In the showroom mistakes:

  • Not knowing what you want to use the swim spa for
  • Not trying before you buy (especially if it’s for swimming)

Size, usage and shape concerns:

  • Buying too much swim spa
  • Buying too little swim spa

Cost and ongoing ownership errors:

  • Factor in all installation costs (we’ll show you how)
  • Ensuring you have proper support

Building issues:

  • Not leaving enough space for your swim spa
  • Ensuring you leave sufficient access to your swim spa
  • Not properly creating the right base for your swim spa

What we hope is that this article gives you peace of mind, so that if you’re looking at purchasing a swim spa, this at least lets you know what to avoid. 



What Do You Want to Use the Swim Spa For? 

A swim spa can be used for many things. A swim spa can be used in the following ways:

  • Recreationally, ranging from quiet hydrotherapy massage to boisterous pool parties
  • As a huge hot tub
  • For aquafitness workouts
  • As a place for your kids or grandchildren to hang out and play in
  • For casual swimming
  • For elite-level swimming
  • For both casual and elite swimming

Have this figured out in advance, before you go to any store (it will be one of the first questions a salesperson asks you anyway). More swimming capability generally equals higher costs.  

Sometimes you think you know and then you end up using it for something else, like what happened to Jodie, who explains in the following video:

Should You Try Before You Buy? 

100 percent yes. For the kind of money swim spas cost, hop in. Any decent store will have one available for a wet test and they can arrange so that it’s a private experience if you don’t want an audience (many people do want one – that’s okay too, of course. Show ‘em what you got). 

This goes a thousand percent if you’re going to use it for swimming: There are vast differences between how different companies create swim spa current. Some will just turn on the jets and the current becomes a fire hose that hits you in the face. Some make you swim with a tether (and then, why do you need a current then)? Some have big windmills or propellers that take up half your swim spa. Some have special engineering to create a wide current or an adjustable one. 

What you’re looking for is a strong, even, steady current that has minimal turbulence. Unless you want to swim into white water … then don’t bother trying it out. Just get the lowest price you can. We guarantee that’s how that kind will work.   

Can You Buy Too Much Swim Spa? 

Yes. If you’re not going to swim in it that much or if you’re not an elite-level swimmer, you don’t need an elite-level machine. At Hydropool, our elite machine is the Executive Trainer. The people who buy them swim like other people jog: It’s part of their regular life. So at that level (and price point, it’s among our most expensive) you should really intend on using it. If you want to recreationally swim, we have the Aquatic Trainer or the Aquatic Sport. 

Some other companies offer a range, but most offer one or two types and try and sell them as being right for everyone. That’s why we make three models though. 

You also don’t need a hugely long swim spa if you’re not that tall. A 14-foot swim spa is fine for most if you’re under six feet (you need 14 feet so you can stretch out all the way and move around in the water). 

And maybe you actually want a hot tub? Check out this article to help decide the answer to that one.

If you’re really stuck between a hot tub and a swim spa, you can always buy a unit that has both, like this Hydropool Aquatic DTAX

Can You Buy Too Little of a Swim Spa? 

Yes. This applies to size as well as swimming ability. If you’re going to practice swimming a great deal, you will get better. You don’t want to be able to outperform your $50,000 machine a year after you bought it. Make sure you buy one that’s adjustable. 

Can You Buy Too Small of a Swim Spa? What About Too Big? How to Pick the Right Size of a Swim Spa

As for size, these things are popular. A general rule is to think about who will use it most and add four. That gives you space for your family and another one, for example, if your sister and brother-in-law come over and bring the kids. 

Again, usage will matter most. If it’s mostly for you and your hubby or you and your wife, why are you looking at a 19-foot monster? Buy what you need and plant some trees with the extra room so you can get a little privacy going. 

Not Factoring in All the Costs

Delivery can be included in the price or it can be added: You’ll want to negotiate this with your dealer when you’re buying. 

At best, most companies will tell you the price of the swim spa itself. Most online brands don’t even tell you that (we do, it’s posted on every model on our website). 

Know all the costs or what to ask about: installation, electrical, chemical, delivery, you name it. We detail them all in the article below:

What Are the Maintenance Costs of a Swim Spa? 

We have a whole article on that too. You should know this before you commit to buying, so you know the entire package of costs coming your way. Have a look at the article below: 

How to Ensure You Have Proper Support for Your Swim Spa

Buy from a big box dealer or online and you’re going to get a swim spa dumped on your front lawn and be asked to sign for it. Three weeks in when you don’t know what to do you’re either hiring someone to look after it for you or you’re going to be asking Alexa for answers. 

It doesn’t have to work this way. A good retailer matters a lot. Make sure you get a retailer who listens and wants to help you out. 

How to Know How Much Space You Need for a Swim Spa

You need a swim spa plus about four feet around it in every direction. This is to access it in case of future service needs. Anyone who says don’t do this is not your friend. This also applies if you’re putting the swim spa below ground. You need to open up an area so that you can get to every part of it, or otherwise you risk having to pull the entire thing out if you ever spring a leak or have an electrical issue. 

What Base Do I Need for a Swim Spa? 

You need a concrete pad. Some companies will sell you models that they say don’t require one … the risk is so big there. These things are heavy and if they’re placed on a non-level surface, you end up with a lot of weight in one area of the swim spa. That can know it further out of level or warp your cabinet or the structure below and then you’ve got big (and potentially unfixable) problems. 

Our Biggest Piece of Advice

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: Buy from a local retailer. We only sell our swim spas this way, so we’re clearly biased. But we only sell our swim spas this way for that reason! So we’re a bit stuck when we talk about it. 

Most companies that sell through retail networks have been around for years: Which is what you want (again this is us, sorry: we have sold swim spas since the 1980s). 

You can buy a car from an online company because you have bought cars before. It’s harder to do that with a swim spa. You’re going to have questions and a dealer is there to provide you with answers. That’s the idea. Buying online, buying from a big sale from a company blowing through town in a tent or a big box store? You’re not getting any post-sale support. Which, frankly, you both deserve and are going to need. 

We hope this article helped. If you have any questions, your local dealer is a great place to start.

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