One common problem people have when buying a swim spa for the first time is knowing what swim current system is right for them. In this article, we will explore swim spa currents in depth to show you what to look for – and what to avoid – when buying a new swim spa.
Firstly, what makes a good swim current anyway?
What Makes For A Good Swim Spa Current?
There are 4 components that make up a good swim spa current. These are:
1) A Strong Current
The swim current needs to be strong enough to swim against.
2) An Easy To Control Current
A strong current isn’t much good if it can’t be controlled. Not everyone is a strong swimmer, others are simply looking to swim at a calm, leisurely pace. If you can’t vary the speed of the water enough, the current may be too strong for some to enjoy the swim spa.
3) A Smooth Current
The current should also be smooth. Turbulent water pushes you around and is not fun to swim in.
4) A Wide Swim Lane
A “swim lane” is the area of the swim spa where the actual swim current is produced. The wider the swim lane is, the easier it is to stay in the current.
Where Most Swim Spa Manufacturers Fail
Since swim spas have only become popular in the last few years, most swim spa manufacturers haven’t been in business very long. Because they are so new, these manufacturers still haven’t figured out how to make a good swim current.
The most common problems with swim spa currents are:
Not Enough Power
Some swim spas simply do not have enough power to generate a good swim current. The results is a current that even a novice swimmer can exceed.
To make up for this lack of power, these manufacturers will usually include a tether to hold you back as you swim. While this tether does prevent you from out-swimming the current, it can be awkward to swim with.
Not Enough Control
Another common problem with swim spas is the inability to properly control the speed of the swim current. In fact, most swim spas are only able to vary the speed of their currents by 20-30%! This lack of control means that many people will not be able to swim at a comfortable pace.
Choosing The Wrong Jets
Power and control aside, the most basic problem with most swim spa currents is the jets that are being used.
Most swim spa manufacturers use several big, round hot tub jets in their swim currents. While these jets are great for therapy, they weren’t designed to be used in swim spas. Using them for swim currents leads to two problems:
- They produce a turbulent swim. The jet pumps used in swim spas naturally create a spinning current. The round jets used by most manufacturers do nothing to stop this spinning, creating a very turbulent swim.
- They produce a narrow swim lane. Hot tub jets are designed to massage a very narrow, focused area. When used as a swim jet, they therefore produce a very narrow, focused swim lane.
Trying to swim in a narrow swim lane is difficult. If your body moves to the left or right at all you get pushed out of the swim lane and have to fight to get back in. This is made all the more difficult when trying to swim in turbulent water as the current is constantly varying in both direction and intensity.
Poor Shell Design
While shell design is often overlooked by swim spa manufacturers, it actually has a big part to play in how well the swim current performs.
If you look at the shell of most swim spas, you’ll see that the inside is a simple rectangle. The problem with this design is that the current will simply “bounce” off of the back wall and back at the swimmer. This water then interacts with the main swim current, producing a ton of turbulence by the feet of the swimmer and making it even more difficult to stay in the swim lane.
What You Should Look For
So now that we know what the problems are, what are the solutions? Here are a few things you can look for when buying a swim spa:
Powerful Swim Pumps
To get a powerful swim requires powerful pumps. When judging the power of the swim pumps, ignore the horsepower rating in favour of the GPM (gallons per minute) rating of the pump. This is because horsepower simply measures how much power the pump uses, not how much water it moves. Since water movement is the true measure of a swim current’s power, gallons per minute is a much more accurate measurement.
Two pumps with identical HP ratings can produce very different currents. For example, the 5HP AquaBoost pumps used by Hydropool swim spas produce a 360gpm flow, more than some 7HP pumps! These powerful pumps allow Hydropool swim spas to reach swim speeds of up to 18km/h!
The reason why most swim spas aren’t able to vary their currents by more than 30% is that they use manual hot tub valves to control the current. These valves are fine for hot tubs but aren’t robust enough to properly deal with the high water flow found in swim spas.
Electronic valves – like those found in Hydropool’s AquaTrainer swim spas – are much more robust and allow for much more control over the swim current. The Aquaflex Current Control found on Hydropool swim spas allows you to vary the current from anywhere between 3km/h-18km/h!
Control like this means that anyone who uses the swim spa – regardless of their swimming ability – will be able to find a comfortable speed to swim in.
Simply put, the wider the swim jet is, the wider the swim lane will be. Widestream jets – like those found in Hydropool’s AquaTrainer swim spas – spread the current out over a wider area than round jets will, making it much easier to stay in the swim lane.
Hydropool’s Aquaflo Widestream jets are also equipped with industry exclusive “swim fins”. These fins are mounted in the mouth of the jet and are designed to break up the spinning water created by the pumps; greatly reducing turbulence. This creates a very smooth current that is much more enjoyable to swim in.
AquaChannel Shell Design
The AquaChannel Shell Design is a swim spa shell designed by Hydropool to greatly reduce the amount of turbulence in the swim lane. This reduction in turbulence is made possible by two specially designed protrusions on the “therapy end” of the swim spa. The protrusions causes the swim current to swirl around and move up the sides of the “swim end”, towards the swim jets.
By forcing the water up the sides – instead of back into the swim lane – the AquaChannel shell eliminates the turbulence caused by the current “bouncing off” the back wall of the swim spa and interacting with incoming current.
If you’ve never used a swim spa before, it can be very hard to know what swim current is right for you. The best way to know for sure is to test out a few swim spas before you buy one. Most reputable swim spa retailers now offer wet tests of their swim spas.
When testing out different swim spas, make sure that they:
- Are easy to swim in.
- Have the power and control that you need.
To see why we think Hydropool swim spas offer the best swim in the industry, contact us today to book your wet test!