Above Ground Pool Buyer’s Guide

aboveground-pool-ownerSpring is here and summer is right around the corner. Soon, kids will be out of school and ready to enjoy the summer weather!

Your family wants a swimming pool in the backyard, but there are so many options, where to begin?

Here’s a Buyer’s Guide for above ground pools, to help sort our amazing selection of cool pools.

Aboveground Pool Models

One of the main differences in above ground pool models is the wall height. 48″, 52″ or 54″ are available. 52″ walls are the most popular height nowadays, the shorter 48″ walls seem to be making their way out of the pool world.

Other differences stem from the materials that are used on the top rail or the upright posts. The thickness of the materials used in the walls, uprights and top rail also creates a price difference. More expensive pools are simply built with stronger materials, for a longer lifespan.

Here’s a chart to help explain the differences between our aboveground pool models.aboveground-pools-comparison-chart

Planning for your Pool

When it comes to planning for a pool, there are a few points that need to be taken into consideration. The first is space and the size of your yard. Ask yourself how much space you are willing to use for the pool. Measure your backyard and draw your backyard to scale, and then draw in the pool. If you plan on building a deck around the pool, make sure to keep that in mind and how much space it is going require.

Secondly, consider how much money you can allot for a pool. Not only do you have to purchase the pool and the equipment to go along with it, it will cost money to fill up the pool, to run the equipment, to maintain the pool. Not to mention the initial installation, if you don’t do this yourself.

Lastly, keep in mind that some towns or cities may require permits to have a pool built. Check the website of your local building and zoning department, or call them to enquire about permits, setbacks, fencing and any other restrictions that may exist. Take your time, don’t rush through the process – and you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises.

aboveground-pool-builder-bannerWhether you are a first time buyer or looking to replace your existing pool, we have a great, interactive Above Ground Pool Builder on our website! There are two initial options: replacement pools without equipment, or complete aboveground pool packages.

With each option, we offer for a limited time 25% off all other items purchased with the pool, not including the pool itself.

What I want to do in the next section is walk through our above ground pool builder to give you an idea of the steps involved. I’ll select two of my favorite pool models, first the Aquarian, followed by the Luau pool.

Aquarian Aboveground Pools


The Aquarian Series of pools that we sell are manufactured by Trevi and the Luau, Celebration, and Fiesta are by Wilbar – two of the finest aboveground pool manufacturers in America.

Steps One & Two

Step 1 is to choose the pool you are interested in. The Aquarian 100 is a great reliable pool for a first time pool owner not looking to spend a ton of money. When I went out to my backyard to measure how much space I had, I decided that the 24’ round would be a good choice for me. I already have a good fence around the yard – 6′ tall, non-climbable. I just have to adjust my fence gate to make it self-closing and self-latching.

Step Three


The next step is to choose a liner. We offer a basic, solid blue liner along with liners that have a pattern. Some patterns have the option to pick a 20 or 25 gauge liner. These are both reliable liners, but the main difference is going to be the warranty on the liners and the thickness. The higher the gauge, the more puncture resistant the liner will be, and the longer it will stand up to sun and chemicals.

Step Four

In this step, you will need to determine what equipment package you are interested in which means the type of filter you’d like. You’ll see listed the advantages and disadvantages of each filter type. I am looking for something with lower maintenance but fairly good filtration quality, so I selected the cartridge filter.

With each aboveground pool package, the price includes a ladder, vacuum hose, vacuum head, vacuum pole, skimmer net, thermometer, and a start-up chemical kit including chlorine, pool shock, algaecide, stain away, and test strips.

Step Five

Here, you will be able to review your pool selection. I’ve selected the 24’ round Aquarian 100 for $949.99, the 25-gauge boulder swirl liner for $202.49, and the equipment package for $787.49. the point is...This gives me an order total of $1,939.98. Just to give you an idea of the savings, the accessory kit before the 25% off was $1,049.99, so the savings is $262.50. The liner was $269.99 and I saved $67.50.

My point is, if you can, get all of your accessories now with the discount. The pool package will be enough to get your pool up and running. Keep in mind, if you want an automatic cleaner, a heater, winter cover or anything else, take advantage of the 25% discount – when purchased at the same time as the pool.

Luau Aboveground Poolsluau-pool

Since I priced out a Trevi pool, I am now going to walk through one of the Wilbar pools called the Luau.

Steps One & Two

I know which pool I want to order and have measured my backyard for space. I was hoping that I’d be able to get a 24’ round pool, but because I want to have a deck, I am going to have to go with a smaller pool. Based on what I measured, I will be able to install a 18’ pool in my backyard.

Steps Three & Fourhayward-de-filters

In this step, I need to select a liner, which in this case is the Rolling Wave 20 gauge pattern. The fourth step is to pick out an equipment package. I want to get the best pool filter type, so I have checked the option for Diatomaceous Earth (D.E).  As in the first example, the pool package will include the equipment; start up chemicals, ladder, etc.

solar-blanket-swatchWhen I talked to my friends who are pool owners, they suggested that I get a liner shield which is going to protect my liner against rocks, roots, and other sharp objects that can go through a liner. This will also help protect the liner from mold and mildew. I also added a 12 mil solar cover to my cart to help retain my heat. And why not? I get 25% off that too!

Step Five

This is the last step in the process. By purchasing a liner, solar cover, liner shield, and the accessory kit, I saved close to $374! My total for this pool configuration came out to $1,981.21.


The last pool that I am going to touch base on is the Aquarian 500. This is our Top of the Line pool with some distinct advantages over the other pools we carry.

The Aquarian Pool is an all resin pool that has 54” wall heights. All of the other pools we carry are either 48” or 52” tall. This pool features injection-molded resin, secure-lock system that locks the components together at each post for superior stability. This eliminates screws at the ground level, which could lead to corrosion.

The bottom line when buying a pool is to keep in mind that you need to plan ahead. Make sure that you have the space for your pool that you check with your local regulations. All of our pools are quality so when it comes down to it, buy what you like.

Although our Aboveground Pool Builder makes it so easy to choose – if you have any questions, do not hesitate to call!

Kristine Malak
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Energy Saving & Eco Friendly Swimming Pools

pool-expenses-yowch! Image purchasd from istockphoto

Imagine purchasing a brand new pool. Perhaps it’s an aboveground pool – or maybe an in ground pool, it fits perfectly into your backyard per your hard work.

After all of that money spent on a brand new pool, it can be a real eye opener and even discouraging to find that pool operation can be so expensive.

These costs weigh down the excitement and fun of owning a pool, but there is relief. There are conservation tips, in addition to equipment that can be used as alternatives to more expensive products that tend to drain your wallet.

Pool equipment can be costly and some take a toll on the environment. Luckily, there are products available that can cut costs while also being easy on the environment. The three main categories to cut down on costs are – Electricity, Heat, Chlorine and Water.

Reducing Pool Electrical Use:

Variable speed pool pumps are ideal for saving money, and the Hayward Max-Flo VS pump is no exception. VS pumps have multiple speeds and therefore consume only the power needed to keep your pool clean. In fact, VS pumps can save up to 80% in electrical costs.hayward-VS-pumps-arent-actually-GREEN-colored

VS pumps have a digital interface, which displays the amount of power consumption. It allows the user to change speeds, and adjust the power draw. High flow when you need it, and low flow when you don’t.

Another way to save electricity around the pool is with LED pool lights. In The Swim has an abundance of LED color changing pool lights available. The Intellibrite 5G underwater pool light gives a user the option for choosing custom color settings. You can set the colors to change at different speeds, or lock onto your favorite color. The IntelliBrite has a patented lens and reflectors to maximize the light output, and distribute the light and the color throughout the pool.

Reducing Pool Heating Pollution:

hayward-heat-pro-heat-pump-for-poolsAside from saving money on the electrical side, you can also consider natural solutions that reduce pollution while saving costs. Pool Heat Pumps are a smart way to save money. And although they use electricity, the amount is so small that it is considered a ‘Green‘ pool heater, especially when compared to gas pool heaters. Heat pumps maintain a consistent water temperature, for just a few dollars per day, and they operate silently, so no worries about a loud, clunky machine, belching carbon monoxide.

You wouldn’t heat your house without a roof, or have a refrigerator with no doors! Retaining pool heat makes sense, and solar covers are a great heat insulator. They reduce energy costs and save water. It saves chemical costs because it keeps out debris, and reduces evaporation. Solar covers not only retain the heat put in the water from your pool heater; by soaking up the sun’s heat, they warm the water.

Reducing Pool Chlorine Consumption:

Chlorine is a great product, don’t get me wrong – but it uses a lot of energy and heat to produce, package, ship and store properly. Reducing your chlorine use is also better for the global environment and your local watershed.

Mineral purifiers, Ozone and Natural Chemistry products will reduce your chlorine demand, and because your water is hyper-sanitized, you may be able to run your pump for fewer hours each day.

Reduce Water Consumption:

Saving water is easy with a cartridge filter. They save tons of water since they don’t require backwashing. Backwashing can use anywhere from 400 to 800 gallons of water, while cleaning your cartridge with a garden hose will only use a fraction of the water needed to clean a sand or DE filter.

Fixing leaks on your pool equipment, or in the plumbing or the pool itself is also important to reduce water consumption. Fix-A-Leak is a great product for sealing up leaky, weepy pools. Just pour it in, and it seeks out and plugs holes the size of a pea or smaller.

green-solar-blanketsSolar blankets, as mentioned earlier, reduce evaporation of pool water by 80% – and with water rationing a reality in many drought stricken areas, they may soon be a mandated pool accessory.

Drought restrictions may also limit or restrict draining a pool, which makes it difficult for pool owners with very high levels of calcium, TDS or stabilizer, or for pools that have turned dark green from neglect. pst-logo

A company known as PST (and others) operate mobile pool water recycling trucks, which will pump all the water out of the pool, and send it through reverse-osmosis filters, refilling your pool with clean water that is low in minerals and metals.

You can save money in the long run while doing your part to preserve the environment around your home and around the world. These helpful hints can lead to a healthier pool, without draining a big hole in your wallet.

Just because you made a big investment in a pool doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice money and the environment just to maintain it. Anyone can take care of a pool in a cost-effective and earth friendly manner!

Alex Malamos
InTheSwim Staff Blogger

Blue Pool Openings – Start Now!

Yes, I speak LatinVer veniet, si sic credas, translated from Latin, means “Spring will come, if you believe thus“. In southern climates, spring has already sprung, while in the north we must, patiently believe.

Hello again students, I’m Dr. Pool, chemical research and product scientist at In The Swim, and have been asked to contribute some solutions to avoid a green pool opening this spring.

If you suffer a dark and green pool opening every spring, I have some tasks for you this weekend. To prevent a green pool opening, you need to start early, before the water temperature rises too much.

So What – Who Cares?

Some may say, “The pool is green when we open it, but we just shock the [*edit*] out of it and it’s fine in a few days”.

dead-algae-cellsFair enough, pool shock is an excellent algaecide – however, when algae has a chance to bloom out of control in a pool, even though you kill it, some of the molecular building blocks remain, helping subsequent generations of algae.

Rather than choking your water with skeletal remains of annual algae blooms, with some simple treatments and methods, you can avoid a swampy pool opening, even if you have a mesh pool cover, and even if you open late into the season.

Time is of the essence, start now, before any algae begins to really take hold.

Step One: Pull the Pool Cover to One Side

For a water bag type cover, two people can quickly pull the edge of one side of the cover over to meet the cover edge on the other side. Weigh down the cover edge to keep it from slip-sliding into the pool.

cover-the-pool-in-the-middleFor safety covers, you can pull the cover open on both sides. Leave it attached on both ends in the center, and pull each side open, laying the cover in the center – so the pool is open on both sides.

If you shock the pool, leave the cover open until the chlorine level subsides below 3 ppm.

Step Two: Test and Balance your Pool Water

taylor-k2006Test your pH level with a reliable test kit or strip. By the way, many people write-in and ask what type of pool test kit I use, and although I would say my preference would be the highly regarded ColorQ test kit, I currently test with a Taylor FAS-DPD kit – also very accurate. The Taylor K-2005 is my usual recommendation for a pool owner who wants to test all pool water parameters with accuracy.

Test for Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness if you are able to. Adjust as needed with the chemicals by adding them to a bucket filled with water, and pouring along the edge of the pool.

Step Three: Brush & Skim the Pool

brush your pool weekly!We have poles, nets and brushes if you have a need for replacement pool tools. Give the pool a good brushing of walls and floors and skim the surface. If you use a winter chlorine floater, remove it to see if it is empty.

Step Four: Check the Water Level

swampy-pool-coverIf you have a mesh safety cover, or solid with drain panels type of cover, the level of your pool water is crucial to preventing a tea-bag effect of leaves leeching in the warm waters seeping through the cover. If you can see a wet spot in the center of your pool cover, your water level is too high.

Lower a winterized pool by using a pool cover pump, sump pump or other utility pump. You can also initiate a siphon effect with garden hoses or a pool vacuum hose – if you have a 2-3 foot elevation drop around your pool. Davy describes how to set-up a siphon in a previous post.

Step Five: Shock the Pool, Fill a Floater

cheap-pool-shockShock with your favorite granular oxidizer, chlorine or non-chlorine shock – or use a 6% liquid bleach to reach 10 ppm of free chlorine. Brushing the pool again will help to distribute the hypochlorous acid.

chlorine-floaterFill a clean chlorine tablet floater full with 3-inch tablets, and set the distributor to a very small size opening. Carefully place it into the pool. Tie a string through the lid and connect to cover anchors or safety line hooks to keep it from floating around freely. Never add chlorine tablets to a winter floater containing a non-chlorine sanitizer, like those used in our Winter Kits.

Alternatively, instead of shocking the pool, you can dose the pool with a quart of Algaecide 60 plus, which will prevent algae from growing in the 50-70 degree temperature range.

sun-heat-freeIf the water temperature begins to reach 70, and you still haven’t opened the pool, you should add another cleaning and chemical treatment, then re-cover the pool.

When Extra Help is Needed

If you have had repeated algae blooms every year for several years – you probably have a phosphate level that is feeding algae.

paretos-principle-of-8020-By some estimates, 20% of pools in the U.S. have measurable phosphate levels, and 80% of those pools have algae 2-3x per year.Pool Magic & Phos-Free

Using a phosphate remover chemical is recommended for pools that open green. The best product to prevent another green opening is Pool Magic + PhosFree. A blend of enzymes and phosphate remover that although technically not ‘Magic’, it can work wonders.

single_student_raises_hand_3121 - purchased thru PMDavy just [raised his hand] sent me a tip for when extra help is needed; he says, and I quote; “Fire up the pump 2-4 weeks before you open, but leave the pool cover on, and run the filter daily”

Excellent point, David. Filtration and circulation are powerful weapons against algae and bacteria growth.

Now then class, pop quiz - tell me which one of these ways below will Not help you with a blue pool opening?

  1. Cleaning the pool with nets and brushes
  2. Adding more sanitizer or algaecide
  3. Adding enzymes and phosphate removers
  4. Running the filter prior to the full opening
  5. Peeking under the cover, 2 days before opening

If you chose option five, A+ on the quiz ~ gratulatum vobis!


Dr. Pool

Best Automatic Pool Cleaner for your Pool

vacuum-the-pool-Being a pool owner, I spent countless hours outside vacuuming my pool by hand instead of in my pool enjoying it. I finally decided to take a chance and get an automatic pool cleaner.

But! There are literally hundreds of pool cleaners on the market; I wasn’t sure what was best for me.

If you are in the same boat, today’s topic is going to discuss the best automatic cleaner for your pool type.

Above Ground vs. In Ground Pool Cleaners

Many factors go into buying a pool cleaner. Let’s start with the difference between an in ground or above ground cleaner. For the most part, the cleaners are going to perform the same. Hose and cord lengths for in ground cleaners tend to be longer since in ground pools are typically larger in size. Secondly, many of the in ground cleaners will clean and climb the walls along with sloped floors. Aboveground pool cleaners are best for flat pool bottoms.

The Best Pool Cleaner for Your Pool

I say ‘your’ pool, because each pool is different in many ways, and these can all influence what type of cleaner would work best in your pool.

  • Do you have a dedicated cleaner line, pressure or suction?
  • How’s your filter? Large and effective works best for suction cleaners.
  • Pool pump size? Larger pumps are more effective for suction cleaners.
  • Amount of debris – is the pool surrounded by forest, or desert?
  • Pool floor contours, shape of pool, depth of pool, surface type?

hmmmFor the average pool, most automatic cleaners fit the bill, but for unusual pool types or those with low powered pump and filter, choices are more limited. If you need help with choosing the best pool cleaner for your particular pool – read on.

Pool Cleaner Types

Suction Side Pool Cleaners

kreepy-krauly-pool-cleanerSuction side cleaners are one of the most popular and cost efficient cleaners on the market today. These cleaners work off the suction from your existing pump and filter. Hook up the vacuum to your skimmer, turn the pump and filter on, and let the cleaner go to work! As the cleaner makes its way through the pool, it picks up the debris sucks it thru the hose and into the pump basket.

zodiac-cyclonic-leaf-catcherIf you are like me, and have a lot of leaves and debris fall into your pool during early and late parts of the season.  A leaf canister, allows you to trap the leaves before they reach your filter. Installs between two sections of hose right before the skimmer. The Zodiac Cyclonic Leaf Catcher is a new vertical style canister, that will work on any suction cleaner to increase leaf capacity, and keep pool filters cleaner.

On an above ground pool, it is important to note that a ¾ hp pump or larger is needed to run a suction side cleaner. A pump that is also too small will not provide adequate water flow to allow the cleaner to operate properly. Larger pumps of 1-2 hp will operate the cleaner and also keep the skimmer(s) working.

hayward-aquacritterFor both in ground and above ground suction side cleaners, they will run on a random pattern throughout the pool. One of the biggest differences on in ground vs. above ground is that the hose length on an in ground cleaner will be longer as the pools are generally bigger. Secondly, the in ground cleaners can clean the entire pool, walls and floors.

Many in ground and above ground suction cleaners only have one moving part, which ensures reliability of the cleaners and tend to be relatively inexpensive to change. While suction side cleaners are great for the price, we do have two more categories of cleaners that work independently of the pump and filter system.

Pressure Side Pool Cleaners

polaris-65-165-pool-cleanersThese types of cleaners are powered by water pressure, and are more popular on in ground pools. There is one above ground pressure cleaner – the Polaris 65 which connects to the pool return line. The Polaris 165 works exactly the same, but it has a longer hose for deeper inground pools.

As with the suction cleaners, the Polaris 65 should be used with a pump greater than ¾ hp and uses your pools filtration system to direct powerful jets of water to loosen floating debris. This cleaner floats on the surface and has a bag that skims along the bottom picking up debris.

polaris-booster-pumpThe more common pressure side cleaners include the Polaris 180/280/380. All three of these models require a ¾ hp booster pump to power the cleaner. By having it’s own booster pump, the cleaner works independently from your pool system. Pressure cleaners come equipped with a debris bag that to hold large amounts of leaves, keeping them out of your filtration system.

polaris-360-pool-cleanerWhile looking at the pressure side cleaners, you may come across the Polaris 360. So how does this differ from the Polaris cleaners ending in 80? The 360 is a low-pressure cleaner, that connects to your return line – no booster pump needed! These cleaners will run when your pump and filter are running, whereas booster pump cleaners have a timeclock, and turn themselves on and off.

Whether you purchase the cleaner with or without the booster pump, both types will scrub the pool walls, floors, and stairs. Each unit is equipped with a backup valve which will pull the cleaner away from pool obstacles and allow it to change directions if it gets stuck. Lastly, these cleaners will work with most pool types, including vinyl, gunite, and fiberglass.polars280-pool-cleaner

All of the models are similar as far as make and how they function. The Polaris 280 has the biggest throat and debris bag of all the cleaners. This means that more debris is picked up and your pool will be cleaned quicker.

Robotic Pool Cleaners

aquabot-classicI have to admit, robotic pool cleaners are my favorite. Why? Simply plug the cleaner into a GFCI outlet, gently place the cleaner in the pool, and let it go to work! Whether above ground or in ground, these cleaners have a programmed cleaning pattern unlike the other types of cleaners that randomly move around the pool.

For both pool types, the cleaners come equipped with either a filter cartridge or bag. Robotic pool cleaners have their own built in filtration system, so they do not work off your existing pump and filter. This eliminates the need for hoses, and you’ll cut backwashing in half as the debris is not going through your filter. And, they help your filter, as most robotic cleaner bags or filters will typically filter down to about 2-3 microns.

For in ground pools, robotic pool cleaners are designed to climb the walls, floors and steps, where the above ground cleaners are made for a flat floor. Robotic cleaners do well with all types of debris, but some of the largest acorns or leaves may be too much for some robots.

RoverInground robots tend to have brushes on the front and back to help loosen and remove dirt and fine particles and use tracks, whereas aboveground robots have wheels. Prices for aboveground robotic cleaners have come way down in the last few years, many using the newer ‘Jet’ technology which only requires one motor for vacuuming and tracking.

Best Pool Cleaner for Your Pool?

BEST-POOL-CLEANERNow that we’ve discussed the three different types of automatic pool cleaners, hopefully it gives you a better idea of which one will work best for your pool type and pool equipment. If you have any questions, automatic pool cleaners are kind of our thing – give us a call, or send an email to our pool cleaner experts!

Happy Shopping!

Kristin Malak
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Aboveground Pool Pump & Filter Replacement

Let’s face it, most aboveground pools come with sub-par filtration equipment. Pool manufacturers offer dealers many filter options, to reduce the pool package cost by bundling it with a marginal filter system – small pump, and small filter. Have you … Continue reading