Retired Huntington Beach firefighter Robert LaFever, 61, and his wife, Gaye, 57, a retired dental hygienist, wanted to stay fit with daily swimming and water running, but didn't like the heavily chlorinated water at the gym and didn't have the budget and backyard space for their own full-size pool.
The solution? Last year they got a swim spa -- essentially an elongated hot tub with a current emanating from one end. Already popular with dedicated triathletes and swimmers, these so-called swimmer's treadmills aren't cheap, starting around $23,900 for a vinyl-lined model and going to $35,000 or more for a fully molded fiberglass pool, not including installation and remodeling costs. But they eliminate the need to drive to a public pool, can be used at any time and double as a hot tub when company's over. The LaFevers just had 12 of their kids, grandkids and friends in it at once.
Endless Pools: Modular, flexible-sized pool -- roughly 8 feet by 15 feet, with steel-panel and vinyl lining -- that uses a 5-horsepower engine and 16-inch propeller to create a current.
Likes: Smooth, consistent, turbulent-free current about 3 feet wide. The current does not peter out near the back end, as the water is drawn toward rear ports that then send the water back to the front in side pipes. To take a breather or swim slower, you can angle slightly off to the side, out of the narrow current, then duck back into the full stream when you're ready. Pool can be set up at any depth. Includes retractable security cover. Much lower-priced than solid fiberglass spas; in fact, if you already have a pool, Endless Pools' add-on Fastlane device provides the same current for $7,400, a relative bargain.