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What is an Endless Pool?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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An endless pool is a small swimming pool designed to provide aquatic exercise to people with limited available space, and is sometimes referred to as a treadmill for swimmers. The pool provides a constant adjustable current for the swimmer to swim against, creating a water workout that can be used by competition swimmers, individuals incorporating hydrotherapy into a recovery program, and others. The adjustable level of difficulty makes an endless pool suitable for people at all levels of swimming ability. This type of pool comes in a kit form which can be relatively easily installed, and because of the small size, it is not as expensive to run as a conventional swimming pool.

The standard size for an endless pool is eight by 15 feet (2.4 by 4.6 meters), with a depth of 39 inches (one meter). Pools can be custom ordered in a deeper configuration for special needs, but most swimmers find the standard depth perfectly suitable, as most lap pools are approximately that depth as well. The compact size of the pool means that it can easily be installed indoors or in small outdoor spaces which will not permit the installation of a conventionally sized pool. When the swimmer enters the endless pool, he or she can adjust the current to a custom strength, providing a strong resistance workout or a gentle swim, depending on the need.

Because an endless pool is designed for indoor home use, it uses a special water filtration system to cut down on odor. In addition, the cover is very snug, to prevent excessive humidity from damaging the pool room or the rest of the home. When disassembled, the pool fits through most standard doorways, meaning that it can be installed in a home which has already been constructed. The endless pool also has a self contained water filtration and warming system, so it does not need to be connected with the structural plumbing, and can be filled and drained with the use of a hose.

The standalone design of an endless pool means that it can be relocated as needed as well. Some installations do involve excavation for the pool, but it can also be installed as a standing unit on reinforced flooring, depending on personal taste. The design is also intended to be relatively low-maintenance, and the endless pool can be installed in one day by a two-person team, as long as both people are relatively handy and can follow directions.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a HomeQuestionsAnswered researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Malka — On Aug 15, 2011

@hanley79 - Hey, that last comment made me think up a question for everybody here. Has anybody actually seen or tried a tether system? Where does the tether go, exactly, and how does it hook on?

I mean, from an educated guess standpoint I would assume that the tether harness has at least two tethers going out from it, because with one you might rotate in the water, and the the tether must extend out behind you so that you could swim away from it and pull on it.

I find the idea of making a tether system endless pool very interesting and a possible project for me to look into, but I'm concerned that the harness would be very uncomfortable. I'd like to be sure I know what I'm talking about before I try to make one of these things.

Help, anybody?

By hanley79 — On Aug 14, 2011

@TheGraham - I don't know about tether systems being just as effective as the mechanically powered endless pools, but I'll admit that they're definitely a good idea for anybody who isn't, as you said, rich enough to go out and buy their own endless pool.

Much as I like the sound of the price tag on the tether systems, some of the biggest advantages of an endless pool for me are the ones that the powered kind have. I particularly like the idea of being able to adjust the water currents to make them strong or mild. This truly is a water treadmill, which I think is awesome.

The biggest downside to a tether system that I can think of is the tether. Swimming with something strapped to me sounds awkward, and I would worry constantly about catching my arms in it.

By TheGraham — On Aug 14, 2011

Did you know that there is a much cheaper, just as effective way to make an endless pool? It's called a tether driven system.

Basically, it's the same kind of tiny pool intended for the person to swim in place inside, but instead of all of the expensive mechanical stuff inside that makes the water move against your swimming, you simply put on a small tether harness and then swim with all of your might against it.

Since the tether system version of an endless pool takes very low-tech materials -- a tiny pool, water and a tether -- you could likely make an endless pool on the very cheap side if you made one at home yourself. Just food for thought for all of those do-it-yourselfers who don't have a spare ten or twenty grand around to spend on a private pool.

By seHiro — On Aug 14, 2011

Like Jaques6, I'm a bit skeptical about how somebody could swim comfortably in such a tiny pool. I looked at some pictures, and though the descriptions swear that the pool is bigger than the average swimmer's arm and leg reach, it looks tight. That, and I'm pretty tall -- I'm afraid it would be too tight a fit.

I really like the idea, though. Sounds like the closest you can come to having a compact swimming pool that you can take with you when you move. I don't suppose they made endless pools in different sizes for us super tall people?

By MedicineBall — On Aug 13, 2011

@amsden2000 - I have a Swim Spa too. Me and my husband set it up in the garage. It's really nice. We switch off swimming and then set and relax in the spa seats afterward.

I was trying to decided between getting a pool or a spa and then I found out about these Endless Pools. Depending on how big the pool it and if it's an above ground pool really changes the pricing.

We got a smaller one because our garage is small, but we're thinking about selling it and getting a bigger one for the backyard.

By amsden2000 — On Aug 12, 2011

@Jacques6 - I have Swim Spa that's by the same company that makes the Endless Pools. It got it for around $20,000 USD, but it came completely assembled and pre-plumbed. I was going to put in a regular spa and a swimming pool, so this was a cheaper alternative.

It has the same speed regulator that the Endless Pools do, but it has built in spa seats and bubble jets. I usually have friends over and they love to use the seats while I swim.

I'm not sure if you want a spa, but if you want both -- it might be a better price. Especially since you said you were tight on space. You can fit a Swim spa on your patio if you had to.

Hope that helps!

By w00dchuck41 — On Aug 12, 2011

@Jacques6 - I have had a Endless Pool for several years. I don't swim in it as much as I should, but it can go pretty fast. I know that there are Olympian swimmers that use Endless Pools to train and the pools have been used for filming. They swimmers can swim at full speed with out the camera having to move. Ingenious.

If you are tight on space and money -- or not -- I highly recommend getting an Endless Pool. It was a great investment for me and I don't even swim that much.

By Jacques6 — On Aug 11, 2011

I recently moved and my new place doesn't have a pool -- but I love swimming. My last place had a really big pool that I routinely swam laps in and I'm worried about stopping my workout regiment.

Swimming is the best exercise to me. You work almost every muscle in your body, but you don't have to worry about over heating. I over heat easily, so swimming it cold water is really nice in the summer. The only thing I have to worry about is sunburning.

I really don't know if I have the space or the money to put in a big enough pool to swim laps like I did. I've been looking at endless pools, but I'm not convinced. They are so small.

So here's a question: do endless pools work as good as they are supposed to? Can you really swim as fast as you do when you swim laps?

Any help would be great!

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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