Best Swim Spas

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

3 Models Considered
68 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
3 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best swim spas

Last Updated July 2020

Many people balk at getting a swimming pool because it can only be used three or four months out of the year. As a compromise, those same people might get a hot tub, which can be used all year long but doesn't provide any way to exercise. If you'd like to have the best of both worlds a place to swim and relax that you can use all year long consider a swim spa.

A swim spa is basically a hot tub that is at least two body lengths long. It features a strong current that flows toward you, allowing you to swim without actually moving forward. Some of the best swim spas have two seats with jets so you can use it as a hot tub as well.

If you'd like to learn more about which features to look for in a swim spa, keep reading. If you want some top suggestions, we invite you to check out the swim spas we recommend.

Since a swim spa is a hybrid of a swimming pool and a hot tub, it can be used all year long.

Key considerations

The three most important elements to consider when purchasing a swim spa are the size of the unit, its capacity, and how the current is created.

Size

If you’re short on space, the overall dimensions of your swim spa are critical. The unit must fit your space, whether you’ve decided to install it outdoors or indoors. Ideally, there will also be room around the perimeter for a deck or at least a place to walk.

Length: It is possible to purchase a swim spa that is anywhere from 10 to 20+ feet long. Note that some companies do not incorporate a continuous swimming current in their smallest models. For most people of average size, 14 to 16 feet of length is usually sufficient. Longer models do not necessarily offer more room to swim. Often, the extra space is hot tub space designed for relaxation rather than exercise.

Width: In general, most swim spas span a width of 6.5 to 7.5 feet. While that may sound like a lot, your arms may still come dangerously close to smacking the walls when you perform the butterfly stroke. If you plan to swim a wide variety of strokes, it’s best to look for a wide model.

Depth: Most swim spas are between 3 and 4 feet deep. If you are a taller individual or like to swim underwater, 3 feet might be a little shallow. Some brands offer models with depths of up to 6 feet.

Capacity

Many swim spas feature a swimming space and two seats. Some larger models have three seats, while some smaller ones have no seats. Make sure the model you choose can accommodate your needs.

Current

Depending on the manufacturer, swim spas create a current you can swim against using jets (similar to those found in a hot tub), a paddle wheel, or a propeller. Jet current can be a little turbulent for some users. The other two systems create a smoother swimming experience. 

Keep in mind that you’ll want a current wide and deep enough that you don’t easily swim out of it.

DID YOU KNOW?

Even though a swim spa may only be a little more than 3 feet deep, non-swimmers should wear a life jacket whenever they are in or near the water.

Features

Speed control

A swim spa with a speed control for the current allows you to vary the intensity level. This is helpful if multiple people use the spa or if you seek variety in your workout.

Temperature control

The water in your swim spa shouldn’t be too hot when working out, but you might want it warm and toasty when you’re relaxing. Having a temperature control is great, but since water retains heat remarkably well, consider getting a model with two temperature regions: one for the swimmer and one for individuals who are relaxing.

Treadmill

Some high-end swim spas have a treadmill at the bottom so you can enjoy a low-impact running workout as well.

Jets

Most swim spas feature seats that provide a comfortable place to sit in the water and relax. Some of the best swim spas have jets situated around those seats, just like you’d find in a commercial spa. 

Underwater lights

If you plan to use your swim spa at night, consider one with underwater lights. Not only does it look spectacular, it provides a safer swimming environment.

Cover

Your swim spa needs to be covered when not in use. Two popular options include a retractable security cover and a rigid, folding cover that locks.

Self-cleaning

Some swim spas incorporate a built-in self-cleaning system. If you're looking for a hassle-free experience, consider a swim spa with this feature.

DID YOU KNOW?

A swimming pool may take anywhere from two weeks to two months to install, while a swim spa can be ready to go in as little as three days.

Accessories

To get the most out of your swim spa, you may want to pick up a few essentials.

Swim goggles: Speedo Mirrored Vanquisher 2.0
When swimming in a small space, you need to know where your body is positioned at all times. These sharp goggles from Speedo feature mirrored anti-fog lenses with UV protection to help keep your eyes safe from UVA and UVB rays.

Ear plugs: Speedo Ergo Earplugs
To prevent ear infections, it’s a good idea to keep your ears dry while swimming. This affordable pair of ear plugs fits comfortably and comes with a convenient storage case.

Swim cap: TYR USA Silicone Cap
If you plan to swim for any length of time, you'll probably want to wear a swim cap to protect your hair from the damaging effects of chlorine. This swim cap from TYR features a popular USA design and is versatile enough to be worn while competing and while relaxing.

Cover up: 1 World Sarongs Women's Hibiscus Flower Swimsuit Sarong 
After you finish your workout, you might want to lounge around on the deck sipping a well-deserved piña colada. To do that in style, you'll want to be wearing something fashionable, like this hibiscus flower sarong.

DID YOU KNOW?

The current in swim spas is limited to a narrow strip in the center of the unit. If you need to get out of the current for any reason, a simple step to the side is all it takes.

Swim spa prices

Inexpensive: Although you can find models for less, expect to spend roughly $10,000 for a small, no-frills swim spa.

Mid-range: The average homeowner can expect to spend between $25,000 and $35,000 for a swim spa. These models may feature a larger current to facilitate a wider variety of strokes, jetted seats, lights, and more. 

Expensive: If you want a swim spa with bells and whistles, such as a separate section for swimming and relaxing or even a built-in treadmill, you’ll be looking at a price tag of roughly $40,000 to $60,000.

Tips

Swim spas can have a variety of features, from underwater lights to built-in self-cleaning systems. However, to get the most from your swim spa, there are a few tasks you will still need to perform manually. We offer these tips for the best user experience possible.

  • Check the water. Unlike an outdoor pool, a swim spa may be in service 365 days a year. This means you will need to test the water daily to make sure the levels are where they should be. Depending on the sanitization method you use, this includes but is not limited to the testing of pH, alkaline, and chlorine. For specifics on where these levels should be, check your owner's manual.

  • Shower first. Lotion, oil, sweat, dirt, chemicals, grass clippings, and other debris can make its way into your swim spa via your body. With such a small amount of water, it won't take long to dirty it up. Before you enter your swim spa, take a quick shower to rinse the bulk of these contaminants off.

  • Cover it up. A swim spa cover prevents unwanted debris from falling into the water. It also helps keep the water warm. What’s more, it can help keep unauthorized bathers out.

  • Skim the surface. If you see insects, leaves, or other debris on the surface of the water, a quick skim will clean it up before those elements become waterlogged and sink to the bottom.

  • Clean the filter. Even if your swim spa skims and vacuums automatically, you will need to clean the filter as directed in the owner's manual. The filter is the component that catches all the dirt, oil, and grime that contaminates the water. If the filter gets too dirty for the water to pass through as it should, the operating pressure will build up, which could eventually damage your swim spa.

  • Change the water. Depending on usage and manufacturer's suggestions, the water in your swim spa will need to be changed anywhere from every few months to once a year.

Kids do not need to swim in a swim spa to have fun. They can ride on a secured flotation device as the current rushes by.

FAQ

Q. Is a swim spa safer than a regular swimming pool?
A. No. Since a person can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, swim spas and swimming pools both present a drowning hazard. Take all of the precautions you would take around a swimming pool or any other body of water. No one should ever be in the swim spa alone. Children need to be supervised, and horseplay should be forbidden. These are just a few of the common sense rules you need to follow to keep your swim spa as safe as possible.

 

Q. How long does a swim spa last?
A. Like any product that you use regularly, the total number of years you get out of a swim spa depends on a variety of factors. A quality swim spa that is properly maintained may last as long as 20 years. A low-end model that is neglected may not even make it to 5 years.

 

Q. Where can I install a swim spa?
A. Exact requirements vary depending on the model, but a swim spa must be installed indoors or out on a solid, level foundation capable of supporting the full weight of the unit when it is filled with water. This will be several tons for a small model. The area must have access to electricity (240 volts) and enough space for a deck. It is important to realize that a swim spa is typically lowered into place using a crane, so the installation location would need to be accessible by crane.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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