While this is a question that only you can answer, we do have a few tips to make it easier for you.
This may or may not seem obvious to you, but it comes up often enough that it bears repeating; you should make sure that whatever model you buy will actually fit in your yard.
Thankfully, swim spas are fairly compact. You don’t need to have a huge body of water in order to get a good workout. Keep in mind that the smaller ones tend to be about 12 feet long, and that’s about twice as high as the average person. With powerful swim jets, you won’t be able to swim all the way up front in any case.
Not every swimming system is built the same; there are at least three major types of swimming systems on the market today. The most common system involves using water pumps (the same kind used for jets in hydrotherapy spas) to move the water so you can swim at your own pace. In general, it works well, though it’s important to make sure that it will be strong enough to give you a good workout. Keep in mind that if you don’t already swim regularly, you may end up getting better at it as you have more practice.
There is also a very inexpensive and simple swimming system that is very commonly offered (sometimes as an addition to other swimming systems); it’s called a swim tether. Basically, you put on a padded belt and tether it to an anchoring point on the swim spa, generally put on a raised bar so you don’t tangle up on the tether. It’s easily the least costly option, but it comes with the disadvantage of needing setup when you want to use it, and it’s not going to give you as good training for real swimming since it’s the tether holding you back instead of water flow. There are some swim spas that only use this system, but generally it’s thrown in an exercise package alongside another type of system.
On the opposite side of the price spectrum is a device that goes by a number of different names, depending on the manufacturer. Instead of using a jet pump, it uses a propeller mounted in a safety cavity right in the swim spa. This is, hands down, the best way to get a swim out of a swim spa; since the propeller is there in the water with you, it is able to push a very high volume of water. This system is used by professional swimmers, so if you’re absolutely serious about your swimming performance, this is what we would recommend. But because it’s more expensive, people who are just looking for exercise are better off looking into the jet-based swimming systems.
We get many many people who come in to our stores who prioritize the looks above anything else. Unfortunately, this is also where some manufacturers fall flat. Traditionally, there have been fewer colors available for swim spas than hydrotherapy spas, since the people who make the material for the shells don’t make them in a large enough sheet for a swim spa to be made out of it. There are actually manufacturers out there who only offer their swim spas in one color!
Luckily, this has changed recently. There are many more colors available than there were just a few years ago; some manufacturers have actually begun to make their swim spas out of other types of materials altogether! In addition to the many colors of shell, there are options for the exterior. Some manufacturers even offer artificial stone siding for a more ‘industrial’ look.
There are even more dramatic options for those who want a more stunning swim spa. Get a grand staircase leading into it, or install it in a deck for a professional look. Tidalfit swim spas even offer semi-inground models that make it easy and inexpensive to install in the ground.
The entire reason why we call it a swim spa is because they are designed to relax in. Most manufacturers will include a heater for year-round use, so why not set it up higher for a more soothing experience? Most also include the option to install hydrotherapy jets so that you can also get the traditional hot tub experience. In fact, some manufacturers have better hydrotherapy in their swim spas than they do in their hot tubs!
Depending on how much you value having the hydrotherapy, you may consider a ‘dual temp’ model swim spa. As most people prefer to swim in cool water and relax in hot water, dual temp models were invented so that you can have it all. These models come with two separate bodies of water; one for swimming, the other for relaxing.
The downside to having this luxury is that dual-temp models tend to be more expensive than traditional models. In fact, they are almost as expensive as buying a swim spa and a hot tub separately. One manufacturer, in response to this expense, decided to not make dual-temp swim spas at all, opting instead to make a companion spa that attaches to the corners of their full-featured swim spas.