What is a Spool?

What Kind of Pool is a Spool?

woman relaxing in spool
On hot days, a spool provides a respite from the heat. Astronaut Images/Getty Images

When discussing pools, a spool is a portmanteau word or a blend of the words pool and spa. Measuring approximately 10 to 16 feet long and 6 to 8 feet wide, a spool is obviously much smaller than an in-ground swimming pool, but at least twice the length of the average spa. Consider it a hybrid or the best of both worlds.

Unlike a swimming pool, a spool comes equipped with powerful jets that create a swirling current against which to swim.

This allows you to get a workout in a relatively small amount of space; often swimming in place. When using a swim spa as a pool for exercise, the temperature should be kept down, as it gets uncomfortable and can make you tire more easily if you're doing laps in a warm body of water. With this in mind, you might want to first use the spool as a pool; then, later in the day or evening, heat it up to relax tired muscles in warm, therapeutic water.

Some models include a removable partition that makes it possible for one person to use the swim spa as a hot spa, while another person swims laps in a cooler section of the spool.

Is a Spool Right For Me?

Reasons for building or installing a spool include:

  • You're tight on space.
  • You can't afford a swimming pool and a hot tub/spa, but you want to enjoy the benefits of both.
  • Versatility: It can be kept cool for swimming or warmed up and used with the jets for hot water therapy.
  • You're hesitant about making a commitment to build an in-ground swimming pool.
  • It can be used year-round in mild climates
  • Because a spool is smaller than an in-ground swimming pool, it is easier to maintain
  • It doesn't take up lots of space in a yard. Even if you have an average-to-large -sized yard, you may not want a good part of it dedicated to an in-ground swimming pool and surrounding deck.
  • When not in use, a well-designed spool can look like an appealing water feature in a yard, especially if designed to compliment the home's architecture or with tile, fountains, landscaping, etc.

Attractively designed swim spas can be bought from a spa dealer and can be freestanding -- that is, they don't have to be sunken into the ground or have a deck surround. One of the more popular brands is the Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa (also known as MP Signature) by Master Spas. One of the models in the line measures 19.5 x 7.8 x 4.25 feet and includes a propeller design, which offers a deeper, wider, smoother current that is fully adjustable to the desired level of resistance. Several other spa companies have gotten into the spool or swim spa market in recent years, incorporating currents, jets, and other features for multiple levels of training and, afterward, relaxing.

Before Making a Commitment

While a spool, or swim spa, sounds like the best of both worlds, it's not for everyone. Take one for a "test drive" at a friend or family member's house, or try one out at a local spa dealer before buying or building one. Make sure the "current" is not like the blast of a pressure washer or fire hose.

In doing so, you may find out that you can't live without a full-sized pool in which to swim laps or entertain a large crowd, or that all you really want is a hot tub that will allow you to receive a nice, hot soak and high-pressure, massaging jets targeted on your sore muscles a few times a week. Like anything, it takes time and consideration before taking the plunge and becoming a proud spool owner.