For many people, swimming pools are for leisure – sunbathing poolside, splashing around with the kids, and entertaining friends. But for others, swimming pools are primarily for, well, swimming. If you’re one of these people, then you might enjoy having your own lap pool that approximates the dimensions of a competitive swimming lane.
The question is, what are the right lap pool dimensions?
Lap Pool Dimensions
Most pools intended for competitive swimming in the United States are 25 yards long. That’s 75 feet, which is longer than most people can accommodate in their backyards. However, most people find that anything that’s at least 45 feet long is good enough to do laps in without feeling like you’re constantly reversing directions. That said, if you have the space and budget to build a longer pool, you’ll probably be even happier.
Width of a lap pool should be at least 8 feet. If you have a swimming partner you would like to do laps with, add an additional 4 feet at minimum.
Finally, the pool should be deep enough so that you’re in no danger of scraping your fingers on the bottom. Plan on at least 3 1/2 feet.
So, taken all together, lap pool size should be:
|Width||8 feet minimum|
|Depth||3 1/2 feet minimum|
Again, these figures are only minimums. You may want something significantly larger. Another consideration is whether to stick with the basic rectangular shape, or go with an L-shape that offers more space for pool steps or other activities besides laps.
Lap Pool Cost
As with inground pool costs in general, it’s hard to give a meaningful price range for lap pools. The contractor you select, materials you use, and part of the country you live in will all have a major impact on the final cost.
In other words, there are just as many variables in building a lap pool as any other swimming pool. Add in some of the other pool options, and you can come up with unique combinations such as fiberglass or above ground lap pools. With enough space and money, you could even build an indoor lap pool for year-round swimming bliss.
The exact lap pool dimensions are also key in determining cost. While it might not seem like much, adding a foot to the width or depth of the pool adds substantially to its total area due to the elongated shape. A larger area means more materials, more labor, and ultimately a higher cost.
As with any other type of pool, it’s a good idea to get estimates from multiple pool builders before signing on the dotted line. You might be surprised at how wide-ranging the quotes are. Look for a contractor who not only offers value, but has experience installing similar pools (ask for and check references).
Alternatives to a Lap Pool
If a lap pool doesn’t fit in your yard or your budget, don’t lose hope – there are other options for those who want to swim at home.
The most direct replacement for a lap pool is a swim spa. They’re essentially large hot tubs (minus the hot part) that have water jets to create a continuous current. This current allows you to swim in place or do other water resistance exercises. Swim spas have the advantage of taking up less space and being more affordable than inground pools (though they’re by no means cheap).
By now, it should be pretty clear that a standard-sized backyard pool is a poor substitute for a lap pool. For most swimmers, they’re too cramped for a good workout. Having said that, you can equip a conventional pool of any size with water jets that allow you to swim in place, much like you would in a swim spa. An even simpler and cheaper solution is to install a tether system that holds the swimmer in place.
Whatever type of exercise pool you’re inclined to get, make sure you take a look at all the options. Given the cost involved, it makes sense to keep searching until you find a pool that’s right for you. After all, you want something you’re going to use for years to come.