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An Inside Look at Lap Pools

Lap pools make a great addition to residential properties with narrow stretches of land available. Perfect for exercise, these pools usually have a shallow depth and a narrow with rectangular design that is best suited for exercise in the privacy of the backyard. Unlike swimming pools that may have both a shallow and much deeper end for leisure use by both swimmers and recreational waders, lap pools provide well-defined water pathways for those who prefer a pool that is an exercise destination.

Lap pools generally reach a length of 45 feet, creating a distance that swimmers can use as they establish their exercise regimen and set their workout goals. Talented pool designers have the ability to create lap pools of varying length, however, to accommodate the backyard’s size and other landscaping features that currently exist or are planned as part of the outdoor living experience. 

Diving into the History of Lap Pools

The earliest known lap pools date back to the ancient Greek and Roman eras, thousands of years ago. These pools had more of a practical than recreational purpose. They provided locations where athletes could train for various nautical games. Soldiers who defended these Mediterranean Sea empires also used narrow pools for military exercises to keep their forces in top shape. 

Roman emperors had lap pools placed in some of their elaborate palatial residences as a symbol of elegance. Known as piscinas, these pools added a pleasant aesthetic that enhanced their magisterial homes. Emperors often had their piscinas stocked with fish to give them a natural appearance. 

Early Pools of Texas

Swimming pools gained popularity in the United States during the early 20th century. Considered the oldest swimming pool in the Lone Star State, the Deep Eddy Pool in Austin, Texas traces its origins to an area that became a natural swimming hole within Texas’s Colorado River. After A.J. Eilers Sr. bought land on the east side of the river in 1915, crews designed a concrete pool close to the riverfront that became the heart of his Deep Eddy Bathing Beach resort. 

The City of Austin bought the site in 1935 for $10,000 and crews from the Works Progress Administration removed debris and mud after a flood had damaged the pool and destroyed the facilities. Today, the Deep Eddy Pool facility includes an area devoted to lap swimming. 

Taking a Winning Lap in Pool Design

The first notable lap pool designs came to the United States in the early 1970s. Cleo Baldon, a native of Washington (state) and noted landscape architect, created innovative lap pool designs at Galper/Baldon Associates, her firm based in Venice, California. During her life, Baldon created designs for more than 3,000 Southern California swimming pools and also crafted popular outdoor furniture items. 

Baldon established standards that set the tone for most lap pool designs today. Her architectural layouts have led to a growing interest in lap pools, especially ones created in private residential settings, during the last 50 years. Generally speaking, this design calls for pools that have a length of 45 feet, with a width of between 8 and 9 feet. 

Most lap pools that follow the tradition established by Baldon have a gentle graded depth, with 3 feet at the shallow end, 4 feet in the middle, and 5 feet at the deep end. This permits shorter and taller swimmers to have an end where most of them can stand comfortably between laps. Baldon’s 1997 book — Reflections on the Pool : California Designs for Swimming — describes and illustrates some of her design traditions. 

Creating a Successful Lap Pool 

To create the perfect lap pool for your residence, you will want to do some planning before anyone digs the first shovel of dirt. Consider the options that are available to maximize the potential of the space you have for the pool and other outdoor recreation and living experiences you want to add or improve. 

Here are things you should consider as you plan your lap pool: 

  • Pool for lap swimming: If you want to design a pool that is primarily used for lap swimming, plan for a metal grab rail or niche wall steps for entering and leaving the pool rather than the internal steps usually found in leisure pools. Internal steps occupy space that may be part of a lap and have the potential to injure swimmers who may bump into them while doing their laps. 
  • Attached spaIf your backyard has sufficient space, consider incorporating an attached spa as part of the overall pool design. An integrated spa offers the perfect location for swimmers to relax and allow their muscles to adjust and rest before and after an intensive lap swimming session. For those who envision their outdoor pool as the perfect place for social gatherings, this spa becomes an extension of the space where guests can gather and socialize.
  • Pool decksIf you plan to include a lap pool as part of a larger redesign of your backyard living space, the creation of a pool deck helps to define the perimeter of the lap pool, offers a place for swimmers to enter or exit the pool, and protects your lap pool from lawn debris and other materials found in the grass, soil, and plants. Pool decks also prevent sections of the grass near the pool from becoming muddy or excessively waterlogged. Most pool decks span between 4 and 8 feet on both sides of a lap pool, with decks also possible on all sides. Common pool deck materials are tile, concrete pavers, and wood.
  • Safety considerations: Other considerations include proper lighting for safety, the addition of a heating unit if you plan to use the lap pool during colder times of the year, and the possibility of including a pool cover to keep utility costs lower.

Contact Us Today

Residents within our Dallas-Fort Worth service area have a master pool design and construction firm. Contact Liquid Concept Signature Pool & Patio today.