In the Swim of things

Life doesn’t get much better than owning your own swimming pool. Relaxing by the edge, taking a leisurely dip in the cooling waters, entertaining family and friends on a hot Caribbean day; a swimming pool offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment.

But, before you take the plunge, there are a few things to consider that will help you make the most of your pool.

“First off, you need to determine what your pool will be used for, whether it’s for soaking, or for kids to play in, or doing laps and other exercise,” explains Eddie Thompson, architect at CAD Plus.

Safety first
While the clean, straight edges of deck framing are favoured by designers, giving the modern pool a luxurious look, Eddie says this design is more hazardous than a rounded, bullnose coping.

“If you know you will have a lot of kids using the pool or you will be using it for entertaining, the sleek modern design that is popular right now might not be such a good choice,” Eddie says.

He also stresses the importance of ensuring a pool meant for play is of adequate depth and has a deep end.

“A lap pool is a consistent depth of usually four and a half feet, which is definitely not ideal for children who will be running and jumping in.”

Eddie says the size of the pool needs to be taken into consideration. Those looking for a pool to exercise in should make sure it is long enough to do laps in comfortably and not too deep.

“You should be able to stand up and be chest height in water,” he explains.

The amount of sun exposure will also contribute to the placement of the pool within your yard.

“If the house is blocking the direct sunlight to the pool area, even in Cayman, this can lead to a very cold pool particularly in winter, and you may need to install a heater,” Eddie adds.

An architect or a pool company with a Computer Assisted Drafting system can design and draw your plans.

“The system can show you moving 3D pictures of your house, backyard with the pool located and all water features running,” explains Graeme Thompson, retail manager of Pool Patrol. “During the design stage, you will be shown many samples of pool finishes, coping, tile, pumps, filters and automated systems.”

“Lots of decisions must be made before the plans can be finalised, the DEH [Department of Environmental Health] application completed and everything submitted for approval.”

Getting the look right
Once the basics have been settled, it’s time to consider how you want your pool to look.

The most popular finish is Diamond Brite, an exposed aggregate finish available in many colours, according to Graeme.

“River Rok and Pebblecrete have the same aggregate finish but have much larger pebbles,” he says.

“For example, in order to obtain a lagoon effect, many customers choose these finishes with dark pebbles in black or grey cement, then surround their pool with artificial rock boulders and flat rock sunning areas.”

Eddie notes that one of the newer finishes on the market is Beadcrete, which features coloured glass beads instead of pebbles, giving a much smoother, colourful finish.

“However, there are some maintenance issues to keep in mind,” Eddie warns.

“The grouting at the water’s edge needs to be cleaned and scrubbed. You find that with all pools with border tile, there is a whole lot more grouting to maintain.”

Endless possibilities
Another popular feature seen in pool design, Eddie says, is a wide shallow area at one end. Only about six inches deep, it can be used as a sunbathing pond and a splash pool for children.

Graeme believes that when it comes to pool design, the possibilities are endless.

“Gone are the days when a pool was a rectangular shape. Now the shapes and features are limitless with builders pushing the envelope,” he says.

“Just a few years ago, negative edge pools were all the rage, then beach entries, then spas in the pool that appear to rise up out of the water. Now customers are demanding perimeter overflow pools, spray pads, fire and water bowls,” he continues.

“These exciting pools are enhanced with glass tiles, mosaics, arching laminar jets, LED lighting, waterfalls and grottos.”

Saltwater pools are still popular as well.
“They are less maintenance and more healthy as they don’t use chlorine, but require stainless steel equipment to withstand salt content,” Eddie says.

“People tend to have them more for health reasons.”

But, when it comes down to it, a pool is only as good as its maintenance.

Eddie stresses the importance of having the correct size of filters and pumping systems. “If you don’t have a proper PH balance and chlorine levels, this can lead to ear infections and colds.”

Graeme explains that filtration systems use sand, cartridge or Diatomaceous Earth.

“The pool construction company will explain the pros and cons of each type and their relative efficiency and price,” he says.

Graeme adds that once the pool is in and filled, a decision must be made as to whether to maintain the pool yourself or hire a pool service company.

Pools require efficient filtration, proper levels of chlorination, regular cleaning and proper balance of the water to remain clean, sparkling and sanitary.

It’s a big job and it needs to be done right. But by making a few smart choices, a new pool should be an investment that will bring years of enjoyment to your family and add beauty to your home. Life doesn’t get much better than owning your own swimming pool. Relaxing by the edge, taking a leisurely dip in the cooling waters, entertaining family and friends on a hot Caribbean day; a swimming pool offers plenty of opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment.