Swim Spa vs Plunge Pool - Which is Best? Considerations, Pros, Cons, and More

Thinking about adding a pool but have limited space? Torn between buying a swim spa or installing a plunge pool? Keep reading to learn the difference between the two, things to consider, their pros and cons, and more.

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Adding a swimming pool to the yard is a goal for many families, particularly during the summer months when a lot of people need a place to cool off. Along with the many health advantages, it can also make a home stand out.

However, installing a traditional swimming pool isn't always an option if you don't have a very large yard. That’s where the option of buying a swim spa or plunge pool comes in. Yes, they don’t have the size of a typical swimming pool, but these two are great sources of pure relaxation and have many health benefits, too. Not to mention you can use them to keep cool in the summer.

But which one is the best option? A swim spa or a plunge pool?

To help you decide, we’ve done the research for you. This article covers everything you should know about swim spas and plunge pools. Keep reading to learn their features, pros and cons, and how much they cost.

What is a swim spa?

Swim spas are a cross between a spa and a pool, offering a whole system for swimming, relaxation, and exercise. They are a lot bigger and deeper than a spa pool. They typically measure 4 to 6 meters long and 1.3 to 1.5 meters deep.

With the swim jet technology, you can swim and also do horizontal and vertical aquatic fitness workouts.

Horizontal Aquatic Fitness in a Swim Spa

In a swim spa, you can swim against the current or stream of moving water created by large swim jets. It enables swimmers to "swim-in-place" for an effective resistance workout. This also makes it simpler to maintain a healthy, fit, and relaxing lifestyle.

horizontal aqua fitness

Vertical Aquatic Fitness in a Swim Spa

Vertical workouts are the ones that are done from a standing position in a swim spa. They are similar to jogging or running on a treadmill, except that this time you are running against the jets of water instead of against a moving belt.

Aside from being a place to work out, a swim spa is also great for soaking the aches and pains away, no matter how chilly the weather may be.

vertical aqua fitness

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How does a swim spa work?

Swim spas work by using large specialty swim jets to produce a swim current that you can swim against. It is like you are swimming on a treadmill where you can swim in one direction without turning around. However, when it comes to swimming, not all swim spas are created equal. Different swim spa models offer different swimming options.

For example, a typical swim spa will work for you if you are content with breaststroke, light freestyle, backstroke, water walking, or aqua jogging. But if you are preparing for a swimming competition, a swim spa that is designed like a lap pool will probably be a better option for you.

A swim spa that is “lap-pool like” does not mean longer and bigger – but it would have more and higher-quality swim jets to allow users to swim against a stronger current for a more intense swimming experience.

Watch: Aqua fitness on a swim spa

What is a plunge pool?

A plunge pool, also known as a dipping pool, is typically a smaller or compact swimming pool that is perfect in homes where space is limited or at a premium. It can also refer to a large spa pool. Some plunge pools on the market have jets, moulded seats, as well as an open space for swimming or workouts.

Most plunge pools are between 4 and 7 meters long, 2 to 3 meters wide, and often only around 1.2 meters deep, making them just slightly longer than a spa.

Plunge pools can be installed where a standard pool would be too large, such as against the side of a narrower section, concealed by a wall or fence, or even inside a closed-off area of your home.

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How does a plunge pool work?

A plunge pool can be a smaller version of a traditional swimming pool, and it functions similarly. They have all of the same pumps as their standard pool equivalents and are often constructed in-ground. For above-ground options, they are usually made of concrete and fibreglass resin.

There are two main uses for plunge pools today. First, they allow you and your family to spend some time in the water, cool off, and relax at the poolside. Second, they're great for therapeutic swimming – plunge pools are popular for rehabilitation and low-impact workouts such as water jogging or running, pool pushups, and ball water aerobics.

swim spa

Because of the limited space, to be able to fully experience swimming or working out in a plunge pool, a tether and a pole can allow you to exercise in place.

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What are the differences between a swim spa and a plunge pool?

One of the main advantages of a swim spa is water therapy using hydrotherapy massage and heating systems. It provides the opportunity to relax your body and release stress. It helps your body burn calories and provides relief from pains and other medical conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis. It can also relieve bone and joint stress, allowing you to feel more comfortable and supported.

Plunge pools can also have these features (jets and heating systems) at an extra cost, but installing water current jets where you can swim against is not possible.

Vortex Aqualap Pro Plus XD swim spa swim jets

Vortex™ Aqualap Pro+™ XD swim spa swim jets

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How much does it cost to have a swim spa vs a plunge pool?

The cost of swim spas varies based on the amenities you need and the manufacturer you're buying from. The price range for a swim spa is from $12,999 to $89,999. But you can find a good quality spa for your needs (with all the features) within the price range of $20,000 to $30,000. Also, the total cost of installing your new pool spa, plus any additional decking or landscaping you choose, might increase the final price by between $10,000 and $20,000.

On the other hand, the cost of your plunge pool will vary depending on a number of factors, including the style (which you can choose between concrete or fiberglass), the installation method, the form of your backyard, and the extra features included.

The average cost of a small, above-ground plunge pool ranges from $10,000 to $20,000, depending on the size. However, if you want an in-ground plunge pool, you need a budget of about $25,000 for it. If you want to purchase a high-quality fibreglass pool, the costs may be higher. The cost can also reach up to $50,000 if you want to add every feature (swim and spa jets, heating system, self-cleaning system, and lighting) because the installation procedure is essentially identical to that of creating a full-sized pool.

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Can you use a swim spa or a plunge pool year-round?

Because of its heating system, a swim spa can be used all year round without being affected by the weather. You can use it during cooler months by adjusting the temperature. It also has insulation to keep the water in the swim spa heated.

On the other hand, In-ground plunge pools may not have this same option. Like a regular swimming pool, the weather dictates the water temperature of in-ground plunge pools. On hot days, you can have a pool with bathwater. But when the warm season passes, the temperature will somewhat decrease. That's why plunge pools will probably be dormant during winter unless you invest in heating system installation. However, there are plunge pools from Vortex Spas™ or Fisher Spas™ that can be heated and used all year round.

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What are the things to consider before buying a swim spa?

In order to get the best possible swim spa for your needs, you will need to consider first these factors:

  • Your reason for buying. The first thing you need to consider is what you intend to use a swim spa for. Will it be primarily for therapy or exercise? Will you use it to unwind or relax with friends and family? Will it be a means of spending time with the family or a good way to entertain guests? Knowing what you want will help you choose the right swim spa.

  • Cost of the swim spa. It's essential to consider the cost of a quality, energy-efficient swim spa before making a decision. In addition to the money you spend on the unit, you should take into account other expenses, such as installation and electricity. Buying a high-quality, energy-efficient swim spa can save you money in the long run.

  • Cost of maintenance. All swim spas need to be cleaned and maintained in some way. Don't forget to check with the dealer about the frequency and cost of maintenance, and what services and repair packages they offer.

  • Cost of fencing and decking. The building code in Australia requires that all pools (both in-ground and above-ground) must have a fence. So this is an extra cost that you need to prepare for too. Additionally, if you want to build a deck around your swim spa, consider the building expenses as well.

Watch: Best swim spas for family and training

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What are things to consider before getting a plunge pool?

Here are the things to take into consideration before you take the plunge into getting a plunge pool:

  • Depth of the pool. Is it intended for entertainment or simply to relax? Will kids use this to swim? A plunge pool intended for families will usually be shallower and have a simple entrance. Plunge pools can range from 1.2 to 1.6 metres deep so it's important to consider who will be using the pool when it comes to depth.

  • In-ground or above-ground pool. Depending on the appearance you want to achieve and how it will fit into the rest of the space, decide whether to get an above-ground or an in-ground plunge pool. Your budget and the foundation you’re installing the pool are also deciding factors.

  • Fencing and decking. You'll need to decide what material you'd like to use for the deck and fence surrounding the pool. Having this done in advance will facilitate a seamless link between your home and the plunge pool. It should also comply with local building regulations.

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What are the pros and cons of a swim spa?

A swim spa is one of the most efficient ways to workout, relax, and rejuvenate. Listed below are the pros and cons of swim spas to help you decide if it is the right pool for you.


  • Swim spas are pools and spas combined.
  • You can practise swimming in them thanks to swim jets.
  • They are ideal all year round for exercise, enjoyment, and relaxation.
  • You can use them even in cooler months.
  • Swim spas offer a lot of health benefits.
  • They are more affordable and simpler to maintain.
  • Swim spas are entirely portable
  • They are compact and simple to set up.


  • They provide less space for splashing around.
  • They lack the same aesthetic appeal as with uniquely-designed swimming pools.

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What are the pros and cons of a plunge pool?

A plunge pool is another option for anyone looking to install a swimming pool in their backyard. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of owning a plunge pool.


  • Can be installed above-ground or in-ground.
  • Less space requirement and lower cost compared to a standard pool.
  • Aesthetically appealing and adds value to your home.


  • Not for swimming and pool sports activities because of its limited size.
  • Not for large pool parties or any pool events with several people.
  • Don’t have the health benefits that a swim spa can offer.
  • Can’t use it during winter unless you purchase a plunge pool with a heating system.

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In summary

In this article, we discussed the difference between a swim spa and a plunge pool, their features, benefits, and their pros and cons. We hope that it gives you a better understanding of what will be the best option for you.

The decision to buy a swim spa or get a plunge pool is ultimately based on your personal preferences and needs, but taking into consideration all the information discussed above will help you get a clearer sense of what to get.

Medical disclaimer

This information is not intended to prescribe a particular diagnosis or course of action. We are not medical professionals. If you have any concerns about your current health or well-being, please contact your GP or other medical professionals for advice.

Affiliations: Vortex® Spas, Fisher™ Spas and Spa World® are trademarks owned by Vortex Leisure Pty Ltd. The Jacuzzi® brand is owned by Jacuzzi Inc. and exclusively licensed for use to Spa World™ in Australia and New Zealand.

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