Plunge Pools and Swim Spas: Luxury Pools Go Small

Make (Less) Room for these Little Pools (plunge pools) that Turn Small Yards into Posh Daily Retreats

Plunge Pools and Swim Spas

Going Small: Homeowners are discovering the practical and luxurious benefits of small plunge pools


When The Wall Street Journal announces plunge pools are, “A Chic Swimming Pool Alternative for Small Backyards,” and a week later The New York Times publishes a plunge pool story, “Don’t Call It a Swimming Pool,” you know small pools are now the hottest trend in home pools.

Allison Duncan at The Wall Street Journal calls the plunge pool, An elegant compromise between a yard-usurping swimming pool and a Nemo-themed kiddies ‘inflatable’.” New York Times reporter Lila Picard says plunge pools “have become an alternative for homeowners who want a simple, less expensive way to cool off.”

Chic Small Pools

You may have seen an article we published in January 2021 on “The Joy of Small WaterSpaces.” That story was prompted by the rush to add a new home spool or cocktail pool during pandemic lockdowns. Some of these pools were quick DYI projects using stock pools—repurposed plastic or steel water troughs for livestock. Our focus was on homeowners who opt for a more lasting, luxurious alternative: “People with smaller lots want to get out of the house without leaving home,” we observed, “and a small WaterSpace is the answer they’re looking for.”

This Covid-driven staycation moment has grown into a full-blown plunge pool movement. It’s a smart move for homeowners looking for a smaller, easier, more efficient way to enjoy a luxury resort experience in their own homes. It’s a great solution for small or odd shaped lots that can’t fit a standard swimming pool. It’s an equally attractive option for for those with large spaces to create or add to their unique WaterSpace.

Hot and Cool Plunge Pools

Think of these cool new plunge pools as a slightly larger custom spa that can provide a hot tub’s soothing relaxation and therapy, a refreshingly cool plunge pool, or chilled down to cold therapy pool. With both a heater and chiller installed, the choice is yours. For the Philadelphia Eagles training facility we built both: a hot therapy pool next to a cold therapy pool.

With a pool water heat pump you can heat or cool your plunge pool. Like a home heat pump, you can set a temperature and let the heat pump automatically heat or cool the water to keep an even temperature. You’ll need to allow extra time If you want to change the temperature from one extreme to the other. If going from hot to cold water (or cold to hot) is a frequent need, add a second heat pump to cut the time in half.

Swimmable Plunge Pools

Some may choose not to call it a swimming pool, but you can swim in your plunge pool by adding a Riverflow pump by Current Systems. Riverflow provides a powerful, silent, and adjustable current to swim against. It is easily adjusted for everyone from competitive swimmers to beginners, and the unit fits flush against the pool wall.

How to Size Your Plunge Pool

Most plunge pools are rectangular, though they could be any shape. Plunge pools tend to be 100 to 200 square feet, with 10 by 12 feet the most popular in our area. For those who want to swim against a current or accommodate more people in the pool 10 by 20 feet is a more comfortable size. Some plunge pools go down to 8 by 12 feet or even a bit smaller. Plunge pools have a flat bottom. Most are 4 feet deep, though some prefer a 5 foot depth.

How to Budget for a Plunge Pool.

Expect to pay $60,000 for a well designed and built concrete plunge pool. With landscaping the project will total about $150,000.

Bullfrog’s Supersized Swim Series Spas Arrive: Budd’s Pools & Spas recently took delivery of one of the first S150 Swim Series hot tubs by Bullfrog Spas

Bullfrog’s Supersized Swim Series Spas Arrive: Budd’s Pools & Spas recently took delivery of one of the first S150 Swim Series hot tubs by Bullfrog Spas

New ‘Swim Spas’ Offer Another Option

Bullfrog comes at the small pool idea from a different direction. Long a leader in luxury hot tubs, the company has launched a new Swim Series line that redefines what a hot tub can be. We recently took delivery of one of their first units, the 150 model, which is about 12 feet long. That will be followed by a larger 200 model (about 17 feet) to arrive this fall. Rumor has it a third model measuring 23 to 25 feet will soon follow.


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