It's a booming business, and more and more consumers are drowning themselves in the small pool market. Why? Because it's convenient, it's less expensive, and it's worth it if it means they get to play footsie with the water year 'round.
No offense to using larger pools because for years, they were the anchor in the residential swimming pool market. But as can be seen in mega-homes along Riverside Drive or the stylish dwellings in Harbor Town, homes are getting bigger and backyards are getting smaller. In dense cities like New York City, don't look for grass. The rooftop is literally the neighbor's backyard.
Here's a look at what's showing up in your neighbor's backyard.
Trying to find a lane to swim laps got to be a little frustrating for Dr. Nancy Simco. For a while, she went from swimming at the University of Memphis facility to swimming at the YMCA whenever she could get a lane. Even then, she had to contend with operating hours. So when the opportunity came for her to get her own pool three years ago, she jumped at it.
As chair of the philosophy department and instructor of logic at the U of M, Simco calls it a day in the halls of academia and retreats to her 7-by-14-foot Endless Pool, enclosed in her backyard accented by huge ferns, landscaped seating areas she designed herself, and her three playful Golden Retrievers. It doesn't matter that the pool is not quite long enough to do laps, because she can stroke, do water aerobics, weight train and jog while staying in one place.
"It beats the heck out of driving to the Y at 5:30 in the morning," she says. "Some people ask if I get bored just staying in one place, and I say no. And if I get bored, I can certainly turn up the current."
Simco swims against the current, which is equivalent to swimming upstream. The Endless Pool current ranges from 0 to 3 miles per hour and is powered by a 16-inch propeller, no jets.
A standard Endless Pool costs about the same as a family sized car. However, you have the option to upgrade. Simco wanted her pool deeper to do water aerobics.
Chris Wackman, senior vice president of sales for the Pennsylvania-based company, says the pool components can fit through any 30-inch wide door and can be installed in any ground-floor space in your home, including the basement, deck, garage or sunroom. It also holds 2,500 gallons of water, one-tenth the amount of water a standard size pool holds. The less water, the less money you spend on maintenance. Fall, he says, is their busiest time of year.
"Labor Day is the worst day of the year for a swimmer who doesn't have his own water," says Wackman. That's because Labor Day ushers in the fall and winter months when outdoor public facilities pull the plug until next season, which puts an end to the aquatic workout.
"You can do virtually anything in the pool that you can do outside the pool, and it's going to be much more efficient and effective for you because the resistance of the water alone is 11 times that of the air around you," Wackman says.
Maybe bigger is better. But when it comes to residential swimming retreats, smaller is smarter.