Swimming Lessons, Swimming Pools & Pool Envy

betz2I love swimming, and the fact that I’ve never owned a pool is one reason I’m susceptible to swimming pool envy. My first serious case hit when I was 12 years old.

It happened in 1975, when the family of a neighbourhood friend named Lori decided to have a pool installed. Lori was pretty humble about something as extravagant as getting an in-ground swimming pool, but her brothers were not. They took great delight in flaunting their status as the only people in the neighbourhood with a backyard pool. They were pretty vocal about it, too.

Work began on their pool when my parents were having a garage built, and that only made my envy worse. “Have fun swimming in your garage!”, Lori’s brothers taunted from their porch as I rode by on my bike.  It’s amazing how kids know just where to poke.

betz5At that stage in my life, the only thing I didn’t like about pools was the smell of chlorine. This dislike probably came from a sensory association with years of mandatory public swimming lessons, complete with a Red Cross instructor who insisted we do actual skin-contact mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with classmates stretched out along the side of the pool. All this for cloth badges my mom sewed onto my swim suit. Yikes.

Don’t get me wrong, even mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with strangers didn’t kill my love of swimming or dampen my pool envy.  Pools have been getting nicer over the years too, and the nicest pool swimming experience I’ve had involved no chlorine at all.

Back in 2005 my wife and I attended a media event put on by a tool company at a resort. This place offered my first experience with a salt water pool. If you’ve never swam in one before, you’re missing something big. There’s a definite therapeutic feeling to water with just that right amount of salt in it. My wife still tells me that her salt water pool experience was the best swimming of her life. I don’t doubt it judging by the smile on her face when she remembers it.

The world of swimming pools is definitely advancing in ways that go beyond kinder, friendlier water chemistry, too. It’s also all about overall pool design.

betz4Even when Lori’s backyard pool was brand new, it didn’t compare with the stunning designs I’m seeing now. Not even close. It’s like some people these days are shifting their focus away from cottages and rural getaways, and investing resources and time into backyard oases with pools as the central water feature.  And I must admit, what I’m seeing today does nothing to ease my lifelong tendency towards swimming pool envy.

I should have known that this envy would flare up as I spent time researching for this blog, learning more about the current state of backyard pool design. I certainly wasn’t prepared for what I saw.  One of the most impressive displays of raw design talent comes from Betz Pools (www.betzpools.com). I remember seeing their trucks driving around my neighbourhood when I was growing up, so I checked them out online. They built all the pools you see in this blog. Looking at their projects you have to wonder if the homeowners ever bother spending any time in their homes at all.

If you’re the kind of person looking to turn your home into a place to recharge and shed stress, then a pool is probably on your list. Just remember to be kind to those people on the other side of the fence who still only swim in their garage.