Choosing the Right Fiberglass Pool for You and Your Family
The purchase of a swimming pool is a huge investment.
Buying a pool is not like buying a car - it is more like adding on an addition to your home. Most people purchase their first car before they are 18 years old and they do so with the help of a family member.
During your lifetime you will purchase many cars where on the other hand you will probably only purchase one pool.
Also, when purchasing a car, you can get quite a bit of advice from quite a few people, because almost everyone you know has owned more than one car. The same is not true with a pool. Even when talking with someone who has had or has a pool does not guarantee good advice, because that person has probably only owned one pool, which means that their knowledge is limited to just that.
So, let me see if I can help give you some advice on how to pick the right fiberglass pool for you and your family.
How to Choose the Right Pool Design
The first question we will want to address is what you will be using the pool for.
If you like playing different water sports, such as volleyball, basketball, marco polo and such, then you will not want to have a pool that has an 8’ deep end unless you plan on having a pool that is 60 feet long.
Keep in mind that when you have a pool with an 8’ deep end, for it to meet diving code, the diving well will need to be at least 13’ in length and the ramp from the deep end to the shallow end will be another 13’ or more in length. So, if your pool is 40’ long, you have just taken up 26’ or more of your pool with diving space, which leaves just 13’ to 14’ of play area. That is likely an area smaller than any bedroom in your home.
It amazes me on how many people that I have talked to that have gotten a quote from a salesman on a diving pool and the salesman has never addressed any of these issues. Don’t get me wrong - if you want a diving pool, then I will be more than happy to sell you one. I just want to make sure that before you invest that much money you are making the right decision.
So, now while we are on the subject of diving pools, let’s talk about them for a moment. As I said earlier, for a pool to meet code for diving it will need to be at least 8’ deep in the diving well which is 13’ long, and the ramp will be another 12 to 13’ long.
Most fiberglass diving pools come in 40’ lengths. However, there may be a company out there that is making one shorter than 40’, but at this time I am not aware of anyone who is. Something else to keep in mind when thinking about a diving pool is the diving boards for residential pools have no spring to them, so jumping off of a stiff board is not much different than jumping off of a jump rock.
If you are looking for a pool for doing laps, then there are a couple of things to consider. Do you want to do the spin, kick off the wall when swimming laps, or are you just going to touch the wall and turn and swim back. If you are doing the spin kick off the wall then you will want a pool with a swim lane with no benches or steps getting in the way. The length of the pool can vary and the shape too. I found that I can do laps in a pool that is 30’ long, but I would recommend that the pool be 35’ or longer for laps.
If you are only looking for a pool for exercising and are not interested in doing the spin kicks off the wall. Then a small pool such as a 12 by 24 pool with a Swim Pro added to it may give you what you need (and it could save you thousands of dollars).
A Swim Pro is something like a fishing pole. It is a fiberglass stick that mounts into the deck and you are tethered to it while you swim in place at your pace. We have found that these are much better than the swim jets, which are not easy to use and cost $10,000 to $12,000 or more, versus the $500 Swim Pro cost.
So, to try and keep this short I will post below some pool shapes and sizes that can fit your needs.
The preferred design is a rectangle pool 16x36 with a deep end no deeper than 5’.
The smallest you would want to go with would be 14x28. A rectangle pool is not necessary, but it is the most ideal (also, 5’ is not necessary, but it is the ideal depth).
Sport pools are also good for volleyball with the 5’ being in the middle and the pool having a V bottom. I personally do not like that style because it makes it hard for using the pool for anything more but volleyball.
Let's look at the ideal size for playing games such as Marco Polo, Sharks and Minnows, Basketball, Hide and Seek, and Chicken Fighting.
Rectangle pools will give you the most swim space. Having a 5’ deep end is the best and allows you to touch the bottom most of the time, giving you maximum play fun.
15x30 and up in any shape will work.
Pools with benches are great for these types of games because they give you something to climb on and jump over people’s heads to get away in games like Marco Polo and Hide and Seek.
If you are doing kick and spins you want a pool with a swim lane and no steps or benches in the way. The pool should be at least 30’ long - width does not matter. A pool that is 40’ is ideal.
Laps with just a touch and turn can be done in any pool with at least 30’ of length.
For just swimming in place, you can do the jet system, which adds around $12,000 to the pool cost, or a Swim Pro, which adds another $500 to the cost.
I prefer the Swim Pro myself.
With fiberglass pools, I recommend a freeform 16x40 with 8’ deep end.
Just plain family fun with slides and jumping
This depends on the size of the family and how many people will be using the pool.
Families of 3 to 4: 14x28 and above, any shape. Try and get a pool that you can touch bottom in most of the pool.
Families of 4 to 6: 15x30 and above, any shape. Try and get a pool that you can touch bottom in most of the pool
Families 6 and above: 15x35 and above, any shape. Try and get a pool that you can touch bottom in most of the pool
Slides can be used on pools with 3’ of water depth and 12’ of width. I grew up with a pool that was 42” deep and we jumped and dove in it all the time. I am not recommending diving into a pool that is 3’ deep, I am just saying that is what we did when I was growing up.
I currently have a pool that is 5’ deep on the deep end and I dive in it and do can openers in it all the time. I am 5’11 and weigh 260 lbs. Again I am not saying it is safe to dive or do can openers in a 5’ pool - I am just stating what I do in my pool.
I recommend against diving or jumping into any pool that is not 8’ deep.
I also recommend not using any drugs or alcohol while using a pool. The main reason no one gets hurt in my pool is because we don’t become reckless or have reckless people around our pool. So stay safe and have a great summer enjoying your new pool.
Editor's note: This blog article was updated on February 18, 2020.