Swim Spa Pools use different water current technologies to create a water flow within the pool. It’s important to understand the capabilities of each system before you buy because the water current dictates a pool’s functionality.
Each water current technology varies greatly in price and in function. Let’s look at three systems available today – Jets, Propellers, Paddlewheel.
A jetted swim spa means there are one, two, or multiple nozzles/jets at the front of the pool. These jets drive air into the water, moving it from the front to the back of the pool. A single jet can push between 250-500 gallons of water per minute in a focused stream of water. Depending on where the jets are placed, the water current is typically close to the surface and situated in the center of the pool.
Jetted swim spas are often the most inexpensive of the swim spa pools. Their construction is usually a single shell acrylic vessel with a fiberglass backing for strength. But, while you might save on cost with a jetted system, you will lose in functionality.
As air from a jet system is introduced into the water, it creates the look of a powerful current but it’s really just air and turbulence, not a strong current. This air and turbulence makes it difficult to swim and breathe while swimming. In addition, because the water flow is located at the center of the pool, a swimmer must stay within the narrow water channel or use a tethering system in order to swim effectively.
A jetted swim spa’s water resistance can be weak and inconsistent. In addition, while a few are adjustable, it’s hard to program a consistent water flow. This makes it difficult to plan swim times, progress through training or accommodate different ability levels.
If you choose a jetted water current system, you’ll sacrifice your swimming experience. In addition, it will be hard to workout against the current. The narrow water flow makes it difficult to accomplish upper body exercises. When it comes to water flow technology, it is better to spend more to get more.
The propeller water current is a big step up from jets. Located at the center front of the pool, a wide propeller pushes water into the swim area. Propellers can move between 5000 and 7000 gallons of water per minute. Depending on where the propeller is located, the water current us much wider and deeper than jets.
Propeller water systems create an effective and efficient water flow that is smoother than jets. Typically found in mid-priced swim spas, they are a good investment for the money.
Most propeller systems are less noisy than jets and many have adjustable speeds. Be sure to look for a propeller system that has variable speeds and wider, deeper depths. This is important if you want to accommodate different ability levels. A number of manufacturers use propeller systems. The difference between them is the pool’s construction. There is a big difference when it comes Make sure you understand the pros and cons of acrylic, fiberglass, or vinyl lined pool construction.
A large, enclosed paddlewheel located at the back of the pool pulls the water in, then pushes it through side tunnels or a false bottom floor out of a grille at the front of the pool. Sometimes referred to as a wall of water, the paddlewheel current spans the full width of the pool and can run as deep as 30” (76 cm).
This industry exclusive system is the most powerful current on the market today. It circulates up to 25,000 gallons of water per minute, creating a river-like water flow that is the widest, smoothest, deepest and strongest water current in the swim spa industry.
If you want the ultimate aquatic machine, get a pool with paddlewheel water current. It is powerful enough to challenge the strongest athlete or gentle enough to treat a frail patient. With 0-99 speeds, you can program the water flow from session to session for consistent results, progressive swim training, workouts and treatment plans. Safely target different muscular contractions (isometric and eccentric) without the sudden jarring motions you would experience in a jetted water flow system. Successfully achieve core workouts, range of motion exercises, and open and closed chain exercises. If you need rehab, the paddlewheel current creates a complete aquatic environment for therapy protocols. The pool-width current acts as a second pair of hands to help support the user while they are in the water.
Paddlewheel water current technology is more expensive than most jetted systems and some propeller models. But this technologically advanced swim spa system is built to last many, many years. Driven by an industrial electric gear motor and variable speed control system, the paddlewheel is built into the pool shell and requires no additional support and very little maintenance.
The final decision to buy any swim spa should depend on many factors, including the water current system, pool construction, and maintenance involved once the pool is installed. Stroke for stroke, it’s important to compare all of these factors to get the right pool for your exact needs. The best judge is you – so try out each water current and then decide for yourself.