Home Indoor/Outdoor Living Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge

by Ole Decor

Buying a swimming pool may be one of the best decisions you ever make for your family. Your family and friends will spend many happy hours playing and socializing together. A huge bonus that the Rio Grande Valley offers is the possibility of enjoying pool time several months beyond June, July, and August. Many people in the RGV take the plunge in early April and wind it up as late as the end of October.

You will be able to spend hours in the pool because the water stays warm. Compare this to Las Vegas, a city known for its scorching temperatures. Tourists complain that swimming pools are too cold even in the summer. In the desert, temperatures can vary 40 degrees from day to night when the heat escapes into a cloudless sky with very low humidity. In northern cities, pools are usable only one or two months a year. The heat in your pool won’t escape at night because we have a lot of cloud cover and humidity. Aren’t we lucky? Heat loss can be reduced further with a pool cover, and you can add solar panels to heat it during the cool months.

Once you realize your family cannot live without a pool, there are many great choices. One of the newest trends is the “natural swimming pond” (NSP). It is called this because the filtration systems used have biological equivalents. In the pool pictured here, the swimming zone is the area intended for swimming that resembles a conventional swimming pool or pond. This system utilizes a regeneration zone bordering the swimming pool. It consists of a lined overflow pool filled with specific filtration substrate and flora. The biological processes that clean the water take place in this zone. The water is cleaned using the purifying properties of plants. A small filter extracts surface debris such as leaves, and a pump keeps the water circulating sufficiently through the planted area.

Developed in Austria, the concept quickly spread throughout Europe and has now made its way to the United States. The first public swimming pool in North America to have a natural filtration system that uses plants rather than chemicals to treat the water is located in Minneapolis, MN. The technology has developed to the degree that the size of regeneration areas can be greatly reduced or eliminated altogether with a filtration system.

Your swimming pond will provide an important habitat for wildlife as the regeneration area attracts frogs, toads, dragonflies, damselflies, water boatmen and pond-skaters, which subsequently attract woodland and garden birds, which also drink and bathe in the water. This is an educational, healthy, and eco-friendly option that will enchant your family for years to come.

The standard, for RGV swimming pools, is custom-built in-ground concrete pools. This is due, in part, to our extremely high summertime temperatures and expansive soil (expanding and shrinking). Concrete pools are constructed in stages, including pool layout and excavation; steel installation; plumbing installation; equipment set; gunite or shotcrete application; tile and coping installation; and interior finish installation. The construction time is generally three to 12 weeks. They have the advantage of virtually unlimited shapes, sizes, and designs. In-ground pools are a permanent home improvement. They add aesthetic, as well as intrinsic, value to your home.

One of the newer design concepts is the beach or “zero entry” pool. This design features a gradually sloping entrance into the shallow end of the pool… just like at the beach. Entering the pool is much easier for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The beach area has warm, shallow water that is wonderful for babies and toddlers. This makes your pool a great spot to sunbathe or relax on a hot and sunny day without being completely immersed in water.

Another option is to build a shallow lounge platform into the pool. This makes a safe play area for young children and a relaxing lounge area for everyone else. Add an umbrella and a few low beach chairs and you are set for an entire day in the pool.

Pool designers have eliminated diving boards in the service of safety and more play area. The play area is defined as anywhere a person can stand with their head above water. Studies have shown that most people will spend about 80% of their time in the play area of an inground pool. Another design option is to have a shallow end at both ends with a deeper middle to play games such as volleyball.

If you want the health benefits and enjoyment of swimming, but don’t have much space then you may select a Swim Spa. Quite simply, a Swim Spa is a machine that allows you to swim continuously against a water current. You never “hit the wall” or have to turn around to continue to swim laps like in a regular pool or a lap pool. Swim Spas provide the absolute best swimming exercise workout, using the least amount of space within your home or yard.

The health benefits derived from aerobic exercise in a pool are too numerous to enumerate here, so I will just name a few: reduced stress on bones and muscles, lowered blood pressure, strengthened lung function and capacity, tones a larger number of muscle groups than other exercises. Because swimming is enjoyable, people tend to stick to an exercise program longer.

Your health is also impacted by the sense of well being that bonding with your family and friends creates. A pool will be the perfect place to unwind and relax at the end of the day. Knowing that an in-ground swimming pool increases the value of your home, will give you peace of mind and an incentive to take the plunge.


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