Today, backyard pools come in myriad shapes and sizes. Accompanying these shimmering meccas are exquisite structural nuances like swim up bars for sipping and Baja ledges for sunning.
What’s also interesting in the pool design and construction business is that form continues to follow function, so to speak. The changing needs of American homeowners and the space they inhabit drives the designs that suit.
Whether rectangular, freeform, or kidney shaped, you’re only limited by your imagination. One size doesn’t need to fit all. And if you’re feeling stuck, Google will be more than happy to return 58 million results for “pool shapes” upon which to chew!
These aquatic beauties are long, narrow, and generally rectangular in shape; typically, at least 45 feet in length.
Primarily installed for fitness and health purposes, these structures also offer an ideal solution for narrow or shallow residential lots. Not every yard offers a vast landscape that can accommodate multiple amenities. So, the best answer is to still “have it all” with some modifications. By going smaller you’ll still reap the aesthetic benefits of this attractive water feature.
This way you can have your pool and swim in it too without depriving yourself of other outdoor features like rose gardens, pergolas, changing cabanas, and even the classic, multi-purpose gazebo.
What’s also nice is that if your home’s lot is a narrow one, a lap pool will add architectural interest within the confines of a more limited area.
(If space is really limited, you may also want to consider a spool. These may be on the small side of the pool spectrum, but spool pools are feature-rich because they combine the best of several worlds. A fusion of “spa” and “pool,” a “spool” generally adds up to no more than 16’ long and 8’ wide. Although smaller than the average pool, they’re larger than the average spa.)
Regarding pool sizes in general, according to the pros at The Spruce:
“Smaller pools are popping up in unexpected places. Some are located in the front yard, as part of an enclosed entry courtyard, while others are off a wing of a house or wedged in a central courtyard patio area, surrounded by the rest of the house. In colder climates, small pools fit better than large ones when they’re built indoors. Most stay in the backyard, which may be smaller than the one in which you grew up. And some are more petite to allow other elements, like patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens be part of the landscape. They go by different names: spools, plunge pools, cocktail pools, and wading pools.”
They also advise that smaller doesn’t necessarily mean less expensive as, “Many small pools have water features and are a focal point, which require attractive materials like stone and tile, designed and applied by an expert.”
The Origin of the Lap Pool
The forerunner of our modern pool was founded in the traditions of ancient Greeks and Romans who used pools as gathering spaces. Their rectangular pools were also used for military exercises and for athletic training.
The modern lap pool was brought to our backyards in the early seventies by the talents of Cleo Baldon, while working for a California-based landscape design firm. Her innovation helped to fuel the fitness scene.
In an August 2020 article in the Spruce, it was stated that, “Baldon, who grew up in Washington state, said that the long, narrow irrigation trenches that run between apple orchards were one of the inspirations for the lap pool. Although Baldon’s mother didn’t allow her daughter to actually go swimming in those Washington irrigation trenches, the designer went on to create some of the most beautiful lap pools in which to swim and enjoy. With the serious athletic swimmer in mind, she believed that a pool that was only 8 or 9 feet wide (and at least 45 feet in length) would allow someone to comfortably perform swim strokes. Optimal lap pool depths are 3 feet at the shallow end, 4 feet in the middle, and 5 feet to stand up in the deep end.”
Pros and Cons of Lap Pools
With this innovation comes the opportunity to enjoy the alfresco haven of your own making, one that suits your objectives and soothes the soul. There are certainly advantages and potential disadvantages to any pool or home improvement solution. The trick is to know thyself.
A couple of rules of thumb when installing lap pools or any outdoor feature. Understand:
- How you plan on using the amenity
- How often you think you’ll use it to justify the expenditure
- How much you can afford to spend so the improvement is one you can enjoy, not feel buried beneath the financial obligation
Beyond that, it good to understand both sides. From FamilyHandyMan.com comes this succinct list of aspects to consider about lap pools specifically:
The benefits of a lap pool include:
- Works in a narrow or shallow backyard
- Great for serious lap swimmers who will use it regularly
- Can be installed in concrete, vinyl, or acrylic sheet
- Can be customized with heat or a resistance current
- With landscaping and lighting, can be a beautiful backyard feature
The downsides of a lap pool include:
- Length may be limited by yard size or materials
- Less versatile for family fun and relaxing
- Are of uniform depth, with few to no options for steps, sitting areas and other features
- Little to no cost savings compared to a traditional in-ground pool
- Will require a gate or fencing like a regular pool, depending on local regulations
- If your lap pool is heated, figure on higher electric or gas bills
Building Your Outdoor Paradise
The modern family has been especially busy of late outfitting their backyards with lighting and audio designs, pizza ovens, hard and soft scaping for practical and visual impact, and then of course the pursuit of the perfect patio!
Fortunately, options for pools are also endless. Your vision can be adapted to suit your needs and the unique confines of your yard. Whether lap pool or Olympic-sized, you can find the most refreshing answer to what will easily become your favorite place to visit: your backyard.
Providing pool and home improvement loan solutions since 1979, Lyon Financial loves pools of all shapes and sizes. We also love the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information about creating your ideal backyard oasis.