Custom Swim Spa or Swimming Pool? How to Choose

Should you choose a swim spa, swimming pool or maybe both for your new custom pool and landscape design?

Let us show you the differences and why you would choose one over the other.

What’s the biggest difference? A swim spa has qualities of a swimming pool and a spa. It’s larger than a traditional spa but smaller, shallower and narrower than a traditional pool. The defining quality is that a swim spa has a jet system, such as Endless Pools or BADU Swim Jet systems, which creates a current you can swim against. Think of a giant, water-based treadmill for swimmers.

It’s a “spa” because it’s designed to be heated beyond the usual “take the chill off” for a regular pool. Most have the capacity to be heated up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very close to the recommended maximum of 104F for regular spas. For use as a “swimming pool” or exercising, the recommended temperatures are closer to 80 or 85 degrees. The swim jets can also be used for massage, hydrotherapy or just fun and playtime.

You can turn the heat off if you prefer a cooler temperature for a more refreshing swim experience. Just keep in mind that it will take time to heat up or cool down the water. Although they heat up faster than a pool, they won’t be nearly as quick to warm as a small spa. You might choose to reserve the warmer temperatures for the winter and turn off the heating for the summer.

While there are prefabricated swim spas, we custom design our pools and swim spas. They are created to be permanent, in-ground water features that fit the layout, vision and specific needs for our clients as part of a larger backyard pool and landscape design and installation project.

Why Swim Spas are Trending

Swim spas have been trending in popularity, with increased sales every year according to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. Our clients who add a swim spa option to their swimming pool and landscape design often do so for several reasons.


Swim spas give you the ability to swim as a workout without building a huge swimming pool or joining a gym. You can adjust the level of the current for a gentler or more difficult workout.


Much like a dedicated spa, a swim spa provides a comfortable and enjoyable way to unwind and relax with jets and / or heat together.

Kids love the challenge of playing in and swimming against a swim spa current. Because it can act as a spa, you can entertain adults who want to lounge and relax in a spa-like environment.


During the pandemic, we all spent a lot more time at home. After looking at their empty yard for days on end, people started wishing they had something that was enjoyable and entertaining as well as offering a gym-level swim experience.

It wasn't limited to swim spas. Every level of pool experienced a surge in demand, from temporary to the luxury inground pools and stand-alone or integrated swim spas that we custom-design and build into the overall landscape and pool installations we create for our clients.


Unlike a prefabricated swim spa, a custom design will be as beautiful and stylish as a traditional pool. You can incorporate water features, fire features, vanishing edges, make it raised or inground - almost anything a pool would have.

Should Your Pool Installation Project Include a Swim Spa?

If you’re looking for a smaller footprint, a stand alone spa or swim spa can work quite well in a smaller yard or space. It will still be a custom-level investment.

We could also create a pool that serves as both. The "Hawaii in California" pool project has a Badu swim jet that is powerful enough to create a swim current.

We incorporated a “Fastlane System” swim machine into this custom-designed, inground swimming pool. Look carefully just to the left of the raised spa -- there is a swim machine just under the pool deck edge. If you’d like to consider a custom-designed swim spa or in-ground swimming pool for your estate, contact us for a free consultation.

Pool with a swim spa machine installed to the side of the spa.

This pool and swim spa machine project is in the final stages of landscaping. Look closely at the edge of the pool to the left of the raised spa (marble square at far end).


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