Why improve your backyard space with a swimming pool?
- Everyone enjoys swimming
- It's hot outside & you need a pool
- Kids love swimming pools - keep them active & happy
- Add an exciting water feature to an empty backyard space
- Create a backyard oasis friends & neighbors will love to visit
- Improve your home for a potential resale - homebuyers desire swimming pools
- To train for athletic competition - swimming laps in a pool is an effective all-body workout
A Definition of Swimming Pools
A swimming pool is a large container of water built for the purpose of recreation or exercise. Pools come in a variety of sizes, shapes and types; the largest pools are called Olympic-size swimming pools. Types include in-ground pools, above-ground pools and on-ground pools made from materials such as fiberglass, tile, metal, plastic, stone and concrete. Private pools can be found in many backyards across the United States used primarily for recreation and occasionally for exercise. Most cities offer public swimming pools, while many health and fitness clubs features a private pool for exercise. Do not confuse swimming pools with hot tubs and spas, which are filled with hot water for hydrotherapy massages. Swimming pools must be maintained to avoid cloudy water, plant growth, viruses, bacteria, algae and insect infestation; chemical treatments and filters are required to help maintain the water purity. The cost of a swimming pool can be substantial, considering the upfront amounts needed for construction and the cost of regular maintenance over time.
The Family Leisure Online Pool School
Everything you need to know about a swimming pool, from the basics of maintenance to do-it-yourself swimming pool installation, is available in the Family Leisure Online Pool School. View informative videos on the following subjects:
The History of Swimming Pools
Ancient humans relied on natural swimming holes, as well as lakes, rivers and oceans, to cool off and have fun during steamy hot weather. While the exact year when the first man-made swimming pool emerged is hard to pinpoint, many historic examples have emerged from the rubble in places such as Greece, Rome, Sri Lanka, China and Pakistan.
Historians consider the “Kuttam Pokuna” pools of the Sinhalese built in the Sri Lankan kingdom of Anuradhapura during the 4th Century B.C.E. the oldest known man-made swimming pools, which were built in pairs possibly for religious purposes. Another ancient example lies in the Indus Valley Civilization’s “Great Bath” found at the Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan, dating from the 3rd Century B.C.E.
Greeks and Romans were known to be fond of swimming pools, using them for recreation, military exercises and nautical games. Emperors and members of the elite class in Rome showcased lavish artificial pools filled with fish, with the first recorded heated swimming pool being built by a Roman noble named Gaius Maecenas in the 1st Century B.C.E.
From these ancient examples emerged public and private swimming pools for both recreation and bathing. By the middle 1800’s swimming pools were quite common in Britain, with the oldest “swimming club”, the Maidstone Swimming Club, emerging in Kent, England in 1844.
With the advent of the modern Olympic Games in the 1890’s swimming became quite popular as an exercise, with hundreds of “swimming clubs” emerging in Europe and the United States (with one such club pictured above). The Racquet Club of Philadelphia built one of the world’s first above ground swimming pools in 1907. Private swimming pools emerged as a favorite item in the backyard of returning soldiers after World War II, which has filtered down into our current culture. Most American neighborhoods now offer at least one home with a backyard swimming pool.
Above Ground Swimming Pool Shapes & Sizes
Round Swimming Pools – The classic round swimming pool look by a variety of reliable manufacturers such as Mighty Sun. Sizes include 12’, 15’, 18’, 24’, 27’, 30’, and 33’ round swimming pools.
Oval Swimming Pools – Modern oval shapes perfect for any backyard situation by Wilbar and others. Sizes include 12’ x 20’, 15’ x 30’, 18’ x 33’ and 21’ x 41’ oval swimming pools.
Did You Know?The White Star Line’s Adriatic (1907) was the first ocean liner to offer a built-in swimming pool.
Pool Water Sanitation
There are many ways to keep your pool clean, healthy and safe for all including prevention, treatment and filtration. The most common sources of debris, dirt, pathogens and contaminants are the environment, the swimmers themselves and the chemicals placed by the owner to help maintain the swimming pool. Prevention is quite effective when utilized with the swimmers.
The largest source of contaminants is typically the individuals swimming in your swimming pool. Be sure to provide areas to clean off before swimming, such as a sink for cleaning hands or a hose and a basin for cleaning feet. Encourage swimmers in your pool to shower before they go swimming. But sometimes these suggestions may be impossible to achieve; sweat, cosmetics and suntan lotion will undoubtedly make their way into your pool water.
The environment can be a significant source and prevention can be difficult, particularly when compared to thwarting contamination of your water through the swimmers. Dirt, dust, leaves and branches blown into your backyard by the wind; bacteria, viruses and algae spores in raindrops falling into your water; birds dropping their waste into your swimming pool; the environment will literally throw trash at swimming pools.
This is where treatment and filtration come into play. Why? Organic pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa, viruses and fungi (Giardiasis, Cryptosporidiosis and Otis Externa, just to name a few) create issues such as skin rashes, respiratory infections and diarrhea. Read below for more information on pool water filtration and disinfection.
Pool Water Filtration
Typically water is pulled from the swimming pool through skimmers and strainers placed at regular intervals in the pool wall. A pool pump creates the pressure, sucking water through the strainer for larger debris such as leaves and hair, and then forcing the water through a sand filter to clear out smaller debris.
Sand filters (the 22" Pool Sand Filter System is pictured to the right) are most common with swimming pools. Microscopic contaminants larger than 10 micrometers are typically filtered out through a pressure fed filter that sometimes requires a “back-wash” to improve efficiency. Filtering the pool water with a pool pump and sand filter should prevent pool water issues.
The final step is the water recirculating into the pool, typically through a water return commonly called an eyeball. During the summer owners can run their pump 24 hours a day, but most rely on a timer to control their pump to save electricity.
There are two types of pumps: the self-priming pump, which can be placed above the pool’s water level, and the flooded suction pump, which relies on gravity and must be placed below the pool’s water level. A typical above ground pool relies on a sand filter fed by a flooded suction pump. Both require regular maintenance and care; expect the sand in the filter to last up to eight years, but it should be replaced after every season to avoid sanitary issues. A pump can require between 500 watts to 2,000 watts, depending on your pool’s size.
Other types of filtering systems: Thri-Chlor Feeders, UV Systems, Ionization Systems, Saline Chlorination & Electronic Oxidation
How will you heat your swimming pool?
New owners rarely consider how they will heat their swimming pool. Typical swimming pool water heater choices include natural gas and propane (a Propane Heater is pictured to the right), but electric and solar power options do exist.
The side of your water filter should hold a pressure gauge. When the needle in the pressure gauge has entered the red area a backwash of the water filter is needed! Be safe and avoid maintenance issues. Don’t wait any longer… Do it right now!
Pool Water Disinfection
Bromine and chlorine are effective sanitizers, both utilizing halogen-based oxidizers to kill contaminants. Hot tubs and spas frequently use bromine to sanitize water, while swimming pools typically rely on chlorine. Pictured (right) is a 4 lb. tub of 3" Chlorine Tablets.
Both bromine and chlorine will quickly oxidize and destroy organic contaminants such as viruses and bacteria, while also destroying algae, a common problem in pools. Chlorine breaks down rapidly in sunlight, so a compound mix of chlorine and a granular acid is used to extend the life of the water.
Chloramines will appear in most pools, a combination of the chlorine mixing with nitrogen-based wastes in the water, creating the nose-stinging chlorine smell found in gyms, private clubs and rooms containing indoor pools. Shocking the pool will help eliminate this smell and chlorinates, typically every two weeks while the pool is active, such as during the summer.
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