FilterBalls: a Breakthrough In Pool Filtration Media?

The pool industry has seen lots of visionary innovation. VS pumps are great, LED lights are cool, and we all appreciate a good ergonomic leaf net.

Recently, I came to the realization that I could no longer procrastinate a Sand Change for my 5-year old Hayward Sand Filter (S244T).

I was looking into some new innovations in filter sand; alternatives like FilterGlass and ZeoSand. That’s when I came across FilterBalls Blu10.

Are FilterBalls A Game-Changing Pool Product?

FILTER BALLS BROCHUREI’m usually quite skeptical, to the point of cynicism, and always hesitant to “experiment” with my pool in fear of creating more work for myself instead of practicing my cannonballs. After digging a little deeper though, I found some pretty impressive numbers and claims at

First off, it’s going to be easier and less work the next time I open up my filter. At the time of reading that I had never changed the sand in a sand filter before (I’ll get to that…spoiler alert: it’s not fun) so these points mean much more to me now than they did a month ago.

I found FilterBalls to be super easy to manage, and it improved circulation and filtration, with lower filter pressure and higher flow rate.

• 100x lighter than sand filter media
• Just one pound of FilterBalls replaces 100 pounds of sand.
• Eliminate hauling and disposal of hundreds of pounds of sand.

Having just priced out how much it was going to cost to replace 300 lbs of sand for my sand filter. Mailing 300 lbs of anything is expensive, and I wasn’t thrilled about that either. So cost was a big selling point:

  • FilterBalls cost less than other sand alternatives
  • One 1-lb bag of FilterBalls replaces 100 lbs of sand
  • Saves Big on shipping costs

Reading on, I also discovered that FilterBalls are recyclable, are can make my other equipment last longer (from running less), which in turn is going to save energy. My much better half is an environmental scientist (and an even bigger skeptic), and I was excited to show her how I was going to save the world one FilterBall at a time. Or at least save us a few bucks over last year’s robust summer electric bill.

  • More complete backwashing for longer filter cycles
  • Lower system pressure than sand
  • Higher flow rates than sand
  • Removes particles down to 10 microns

Like any savvy shopper I tracked down as many reviews on FilterBalls as possible. I found stellar reviews and a handful of reviews that made me take pause. FilterBalls coming out of the backwash hose after backwashing and FilterBalls flying through the plumbing through the jets into the pool didn’t really make sense to me. From the most logical of perspectives, FilterBalls are much larger than grains of sand. They are slightly smaller than a baseball. The only way that a FilterBall could find it’s way outside of your filter tank would be if the standpipe wasn’t properly attached.

3 Pounds Of FilterBalls, Please… Express Delivery

FilterBalls Blu10 Close-Up ImageWhen the surprisingly small box arrived at my doorstep, I thought there had to be a mistake. For one, the box was so light it felt like it was empty, and it was even harder to imagine hauling 300 lbs of sand from my doorstep to my pool filter. I confused the heck out of the delivery guy by explaining to him how lucky he was because this box (as I tossed the box from one hand to the other) could’ve weight 300 lbs. Now all I had to do was drain the filter, pull off the multiport valve, and scoop out the slimy sand from my filter tank. Ugh.

So, There’s No Easier Way To Do This, Huh?

In my 5 years of owning my sand filter I knew that this day would come. I dreaded it. I blew it off for a year. I blamed my pump for the poor water flow. I told myself the vacuuming suction was always this weak, that’s just the way it is. The pool was always kinda murky, never crystal clear. Those nights of marveling at my nearly invisible pool water were embellishments of my imagination.

I had almost done it all in the realm of pool maintenance, and I was ready as I was ever going to be to change my filter media for the first time…all greasy, milky, sewage-y, 300 lbs of wet filter sand. Ugh.

For the sake of science and for pool owners everywhere, I wanted to first benchmark my own flow rate and filter pressure, before changing from sand to FilterBALLS.

Doppler Flow Meter shown in actionUsing a Doppler Flow Meter shown here, and my existing pressure gauge on my Hayward S244T Pro Series the old filter sand was operating at:

  • 20 psi
  • 38.3 gpm

Bear in mind this is after 10 days of enzymes and sand filter cleaner and other effort to prolong the inevitable sand change.

With the FilterBalls installed, replacing the filter sand, the readings were:

  • 16 psi
  • 42.9 gpm

A lower operating pressure with a higher flow! Not staggering numbers but to be fair, my Hayward Super Pump (1.5 HP) struggles with my small plumbing system. The FilterBalls have been reviewed as a perfect match for a Variable Speed Pump, and when working in tandem they have potential to deliver an even higher level of energy efficiency.

The FilterBalls website says that you can run the pump up to 50% less. Running my pump half the time but achieving better results would surely make me a loyal FilterBalls customer for life. Actually, scooping the rancid sand out of my filter tank for 1-1/2 hrs, scoop by slimy scoop was enough to make me a fan, but optimal clarity and minimal electricity would be the cannonball on top.

Less Chemical Usage, Smaller Electrical Bill

Okay, so I haven’t received my new electric bill this month yet. But it doesn’t take Nikola Tesla to do the math when you are running your pool pump 25 hours less a week. The routine before FilterBalls was to run the pump during the day, 8am – 6pm roughly, or 10 hrs. per day.

Now, my pump is running (most days) on my pump timer from 6-9am, and 6-9pm, a reduction of 40%, and running when the electricity costs less, off-peak. Our pool-guy editor (Hi, Davy), tells me that this is not enough filtering, 6 hrs per day, especially come August – but you should see how good the water looks after nearly 2 weeks of 6 hr days. We will see how well FilterBalls work overall, when I report my findings near the end of the season.

The FilterBalls Blu10 were officially in action at 12:30 pm on Saturday the 10th of June. By Monday night I was calling for my girlfriend to come out and see what a clear pool really looks like. She didn’t come out. But she appreciated my enthusiasm…I think.

Over the last 12 days I have added only my trusty enzyme Pool First Aid and a treatment of PhosFree, to combat an issue with some soil that washed into the pool, and I’ve shocked once. The pool looks the best it’s looked in years, and the pump (or filter?) is much quieter when it is operating, a significant noise reduction in fact.

In the past, I typically have to fight off cloudy water every other week or so. We’ll see how it goes through the summer, but so far things look great. Stand by for my follow-up report on FilterBalls at season’s end.

Where Do I See Myself Five Years From Now?

filter sand changes are messy and slimyWhen I ask myself this question in regards to the inevitable day when these FilterBalls will need to be replaced by the next generation of FilterBalls, I can tell you much more easily and quite clearly – where I DON’T see myself:

  • I don’t see myself slowly chaffing away my skin with sandy sludge full of who knows what type of bacteria
  • I don’t see myself trying to salvage my laterals from tiny little grains of sand that have clogged the water flow for five years
  • I won’t be careening a wheelbarrow filled with hundreds of lbs of wet sand (it’s way heavier wet!) throughout my yard
  • I don’t see myself buying bottle after bottle of Sand Filter Cleaner in hopes of squeezing a little more life out of the sand

So, do FilterBalls work? The results have been great for me, but in all fairness to you, our loyal In the Swim Blog Reader and fellow pool owner, it’s only 12 days into this romance, but I am thoroughly enjoying the honeymoon.

However, at this early stage I can certainly vouch for this much: FilterBalls are easier to manage, increase your flow rates and lower your filter pressure and they cost less than DE, Cartridges, or other filter sand replacements. And so far, or at least until it gets really hot and not counting stormy days or heavy use when I run the pump longer, I’m reducing my daily energy use by about 40%.

Hayward Superpump VSAnd with the money I will saved from my significantly smaller electric bill (TBD) and less trips to the In The Swim Store for clarifier, I will buy this variable speed Superpump which will use even less energy, saving me more money and making the world a greener, better place. 🙂

Check back in a few months, to read how the rest of the summer turned out. Have you tried FilterBalls Blu10 in your sand filter? Leave a Reply below, we love to hear from our In the Swim Pool Community!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite Pool Party’s Over: Clearing Cloudy Water

Rounding out our 3-part Pool Party Maintenance Series, we take a look at how to get your pool water back to that pre-party sparkle. The party-goers have come and gone; all that’s left is a full recycling bin, and milky, cloudy pool water. With a splash of this and a dash of that we can whip that pool water back into shape just in time for next weekend’s pool BBQ.  Let’s jump right in.

Testing 1-2, Testing 1-2

Taylor Test Kit from In the Swim

After all your hard work and prep to get your pool picture perfect, it can be disheartening to lose site of your pool floor or to notice a ring around your pool’s waterline. Your initial reaction could be to reach for your pool chemical reserves and attack your pool with big doses of clarifiers, algaecide, and stain removers. This could potentially make things worse. An overdose of clarifier can have an opposite effect and adding algaecide and shock together is a waste of algaecide.

First things first!  Make sure your chemical levels are within the ranges below, before moving onto the the next step:

  • pH: 7.2 – 7.6.
  • Total Alkalinity: 80 – 120 ppm.
  • Calcium Hardness: 200 – 400 ppm.
  • Cyanuric Acid: 25 – 50 ppm.


Shock First And Ask Questions Later

super pool shock from in the swimOnce your levels are balanced, your first plan of attack should be to shock your pool. Your guests may be gone, but there is most likely a microscopic bacteria party raging on in your water. As clean as your guests may have been, we all carry bacteria and when there has been a heavy bather load, it’s certainly better to be safe and wipe-out all the lingering bacteria and algae.

Perhaps the most overlooked step in recovering your pool water clarity is being sure to brush your pool surfaces frequently, especially after shocking. Not only does this expedite the process by kicking up all the dirt and other debris clinging to your pool floor and walls, but it also helps stir up the pool shock.

You may see an improvement right away after a few hours after you shock your pool, but it isn’t the time to stop your quest to clarify your pool water. There is more work to be done.

Test your pH and Alkalinity levels again to be sure they haven’t drifted, and when the chlorine level drops below 3 ppm, your water is ready for the next step; clarification.


I Can See Clearly Now

Natural Chemistry Pool First Aid From In the SwimAfter balancing the water and shocking the pool, restore that shine and sparkle with a clarifier, designed to help your pool filter trap tiny particles.

Choose your weapon: In The Swim Clarifier, is effective and budget friendly and easy to use. For a non-chemical attack, check out Natural Chemistry pool enzymes like Pool First Aid or Pool Perfect + PhosFree.

There are advantages to each of these pool clarifiers. Follow label instructions for water chemistry, apply the recommended dosage and run the filter longer than usual each day. Flocculents like Super Floc will require a slow vacuum-to-waste after treatment. Brushing the pool, or running a pool cleaner can also aid in clearing up cloudy pool water.

Enzyme products cost a bit more, but they also help eliminate stains, allow your chlorine to work better, and in the case of Pool Perfect with PhosFree, act as an algae prevention solution. So, while Natural Chemistry products may cost slightly more, you will ultimately save money by getting more mileage from your chlorine and reducing the need to buy stain prevention chemicals and algaecide.

As always, all of these products need certain water conditions to optimally work to their fullest strength, so be sure to closely follow the instructions. Do not overdose in hopes of speeding things up. It could end up slowing things down.


Did We Mention Brushing Your Pool?

Brushing the pool is good for pool surfaces, good for water clarity, and great exercise for you! So, brush your pool…again. And if your pool brush seems too small, or if the bristles are worn halfway down, buy a new pool brush this season!

deluxe pool brushes from

Looking Good, Time For Some Prevention Methods

At this point, (several days into the process) your water will be looking sparkly and pristine and ready for your next shin-dig. If you haven’t used a product like PhosFree or other phosphate removers, we suggest adding the recommended dosage of your algaecide of choice. Since it doesn’t take much algaecide, you probably have some stored away. Now’s the time to use it.

This is also your opportunity to apply a stain prevention or removing chemical. If you have already added enzymes to your pool there is no need to add these chemicals, because the enzymes will already be hard at work cleaning your pool.

Test your pool water one more time, and if if you are feeling particularly thorough, yep, you guessed it, brush your pool! Do I sound like a Dentist, yet?

If your pool was particularly hit with body lotions, oils, and to be perfectly blunt–human sweat – it might be a good idea to use a filter cleaner specialized for your pool filter. It certainly couldn’t hurt!


Let’s Party!

in the swim blog clarifying after a pool party

If your party ended Sunday your pool should be looking fresh, clean and sparkling by Wednesday or Thursday – although it could be sooner. It’s important to trust the process and give it some time to clear, while running the filter longer than normal each day.

Did we miss a step that you find offers positive results? Do you have any questions?  We love to hear from our In the Swim Community. Feel free to drop us a line here, on facebook, or email us at


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Poolside Bar Ideas

Here’s a dirty little pool secret: the main point of being in a pool for most adults isn’t to swim. Pools are all about chillin’. Sure, the occasional volleyball game is played, but let’s be honest, 99% of the time we’re in, around or just thinking about the pool, it’s all about kicking back and taking it easy. What’s the best way to kick back while in or around the pool? Yep, put your cocktail swim shorts on (is there such a thing?), we’re talking pool bar ideas.

For most of us who have experienced a poolside bar, it was probably at some type of resort. However, I’m thinking more about the backyard pool when it comes to hanging out with friends on a summer evening, so I’ve come up with a few pool bar ideas that, for the most part, are doable to some degree.

built-in covered poolside bar with area on pool patioPersonally, if I’m doing a poolside bar, it will have to be versatile, meaning the bar can be used while outside the pool and while inside the pool. After all, if you’re having friends over, not all of them will want to get wet to join in the fun, and having a place for guests to sit on dry land and also while in the pool is ideal.

I really like the pool bar look where the stools are built-in and solid, yet blend with the water and the pool’s surfaces.
clean backyard poolside bar with built in underwater stools

Now here’s another nice pool with a swim-up bar, but there’s something about the brick and stone in the water that just makes me cringe. Perhaps I endured too many skinned knees and elbows as a kid which is why I can’t help but think I’d end up losing skin somewhere due to these stools and wall.

However, I do appreciate the big screen TV and overhead heaters. And you can’t go wrong with a full wet bar, ice machine and dishwasher, with enough counter space to really spread out!

And when I’m not in the kitchen, I’ll be kicking back in front of the fireplace. But I’m not going anywhere near those bar stools.

This pool bar incorporates a man cave – literally a cave for real with a waterfall and water slide. Yes, this is someone’s backyard. They look out at this all the time and quietly think “holy begonias, I have a cave, waterfall, waterslide and swim-up bar in my back yard.” The glass refrigerator doors are a nice touch.

However, to enjoy a poolside bar, you don’t have to go ape nuts like the ones above. Simple, attractive and versatile will do just fine, and whether you have an inground or above ground pool, you might find it’s not as hard or expensive as you thought to put a poolside bar in your own pool.

Here is an example of a backyard poolside bar that can be enjoyed inside or outside of the pool. There’s no fancy structures, no stainless steel appliances or 4K OLED TVs, just a comfortable place to enjoy a drink and snacks with friends in and around the pool.

Of course, constructing any type of permanent bar in or around your pool might be too much commitment and/or cash for you, but don’t be down in the dumps, there are options!

This inflatable floating tiki bar by Swimline works whenever you want it to work and fits inside a nice poolside storage cube when you don’t want to use it.

If your friends tease you, remind them you’re the one with the pool and they’re free to hop a flight to Miami Beach if they want to imbibe at some fancy swim-up pool bar.

Finally, you get a peek into my player level. Forget all the fancy stuff, the high-end finishes and the foo-foo drinks. For me, it’s all about the drink, the atmosphere and the company. The most expensive part of the poolside bar below is the gin in the [plastic] martini glass.

That’s the way pool life should be…

For more poolside bar ideas, see Dana’s post – Pool Bars for Backyard Parties, to select a color scheme, style and size that fits your backyard best.

What are some of the “must-haves” for your poolside bar? If you could design one and have it built, what would you do? If you already have one, show us your pool bar – whether it’s worthy of a Las Vegas penthouse or a simpler design, Leave a Reply below.


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Pool Ideas from the Future

Instead of discussing what to do or what you should do with your pool, I thought today is a good day we throw the switch and cross over to a set of tracks less traveled, and explore a few ideas of what hasn’t been done with a pool.

First, finding something that hasn’t been done with a pool isn’t as easy as you think. There are some pretty crazy people out there with barge-loads full of money, and we all know anything can happen when a weird idea meets up with a bunch of cash. You get pools like this one cantilevered over the ledge of a building, one end of the pool exposed with a clear wall.

Myself being the type who becomes more than just a little queasy and dizzy on the precipice of falling from such heights might find this pool a little too much to take, but not to those who push the design envelope (over the edge). They thought this was a good idea no matter how much it cost to do.

Then you have the balcony pool, which for me is right up there with the cantilever over the edge of oblivion pool except it’s just on a smaller scale. Good heavens, I’m not sure this type of pool is even real since the people in and around the pool are acting way too casual for the situation if you ask me. Do any of them even know the tensile strength of concrete is?

As you can see, a few people have done some outrageous, borderline stupid things with pools, giving us a good starting point to conjure up something so spectacular, so wild and crazy, the government will probably outlaw it via an act of Congress for our own protection.

For myself, I always wanted to make a pool shaped like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Actually, the pool would be oval with half showing above ground and the other half being underground, and of course, it wouldn’t be 630 feet tall like the real arch is either because of physics and stuff. My not being an engineer or physicist, I have no idea how to explain the method of filtering the pool except that it would be hard. However, I’m going along the grounds of being able to build a vertical arch-shaped swimming pool, then I believe I can figure out how to design and develop some super-duper pool pumps to get the job done. Add in an automatic chlorinator here and there, and I think we’re in business.

This next idea has kept me up at night as I envision how I could make this type of pool work for real – not relying on the laws of cartoon physics like the arch to make it happen. Before I get too far into this one and lose myself in all the excitement, let me provide a little background.

We all remember the 1980s – and seeing some picture or music video with people sitting in a pool where the trunk lid should be on a lavish, cheesy-looking Lincoln limousine. I guess it wasn’t a pool, really, more like a hot tub, but really, does it matter? No, of course not because whether it was a pool or hot tub, it was a dumb idea but more than a few people did it (see nausea-inducing pools above).

After the limousine pool, we started seeing the boat pool. This made a little more sense to me than the limo pool because I can’t help but think how even in Miami you’d freeze your tail off sitting in a pool rolling down A1A at 70mph. A boat moves slower so there’s less wind. Besides boats are by far cooler than any 1980’s limo, and having a pool on a boat means you don’t have to swim with the sharks to get in the water. Again it’s the case of, if you got the money, then why not?

And to prove my idea is for everyone, not just the Robin Leach “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” crowd, here’s a picture of the hot tub boat. By the looks of it, when they get tired of taking it easy in their floating hot tub, they all lean to one direction and hope for a breeze to get them back to shore, or else they’re going to find Gilligan’s Island.

Now, with those ideas explained, here’s my idea that I am sure no one has done with a pool as of yet. A pool in an airplane.

Talk about high roller status! Forget being crammed into seats with no leg room on international flights, stretch out, work out and kick back in a pool at 38,000 feet instead. Of course we’re not talking about practicality here, we’re talking going beyond where no man or woman has been before, and that’s putting a pool in an airplane. Why? – because we can and we want to.

Since personal pool lighter than air craft are a few years off, I’m thinking of a traditional yet modern aircraft. I’ve spent many nights now working through the many challenges of critical weight distribution for take off, level flight and landing. I figure the pool would have to start empty with the pool water stored in tanks in the front and rear of the plane. Then a serious pump, like the 3 hp Whisperflo – would fill the pool quickly once at cruising altitude, and then drain the pool water back into the tanks for landing.

Yeah sure, there are a few more things to work out like having a plane large enough to hold a pool and with enough power to take flight, maintain it and then safely land with the weight of all that water onboard. Of course, you could dump the water before landing, but that might generate some complaints from anyone who has a pool poured on their house!

If you have an idea of something that has never been done with a pool before, tell us about it! What would be your fantasy swimming pool – if money were no object? Leave a Reply Below!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Pool Party Etiquette – Don’t be That Guy!

As a hostess of several pool parties over the last 5 years, I have experienced my share of pool party faux pas, bad decisions by guests and some moments I would rather forget. I’ve collected these moments of pool party fails into a series of anecdotes (or warnings) that will help you be alert for potential mini-disasters when you host your own pool party.

Some of these scenarios may persuade you to amend your pool rules and better define what is considered tolerable or intolerable behavior, around the pool.

Beware the Chemist!

Thanks to the magic of youtube dry ice videos and the new iPhone, my father-in-law is determined to bring some dry ice to my pool, “Just to see what happens!” Last summer’s pool party concluded with him and my husband agreeing that the first pool party of the season will begin with a ceremonial “Dumping of the Dry Ice” to open our pool officially. This party is to take place this weekend, and as far as I know, but my rules are standing strong. No Dry Ice, boys. Especially at a pool party. We are not the Bill Nye or Carl Sagan family, and will not be using our pool to discover the wonders of science.

The Tosser Guy

And it IS ALWAYS a guy that can’t bear the notion of someone being at a pool party that doesn’t want to swim. Some people are there for the party and not the pool (which is fine). Regardless if we are talking grown up or children, if there is a person that doesn’t want to swim it is sure to wake the sleeping monster inside of one of your guests that refuses to respect this person’s boundaries. I’ve seen the incognito shoving of the little sister into the pool, I’ve seen the over-over-the-shoulder-like-a-sack-of-potatoes-body-slam-into-the-water, and I’ve seen the unwilling flying dog go flailing into the water. All of these have ended badly and usually with some other retaliation by the unwilling swimmer in the form of a tossed drink or flying appetizer.

The Floating Snacker

I cringe at these words:  “Hey babe, could you bring me a plate of chips, I don’t want to get out of the pool.” Almost always this casual request ends with a bloated pretzel in my skimmer, a hoard of ants on an abandoned plate absent mindedly stranded near the deep end, or the disgusting memory of the 5 Second Rule being applied to pool water. Gross – I highly recommend strictly enforcing a “NO-Eating In The Pool” rule. (This exact scenario sans ants can also be applied to a “NO-Cigarettes” in the pool rule)

The Gentle Giant

Two consecutive years, two pool floats destroyed, by one big friend. I feel bad mentioning this, but there is a tact that can be applied to making sure your larger friends are not matched up with your smaller pool floats. I’ve had several destroyed by a friend of mine that is 6’5 and over 250 lbs. One was a floating hammock sling that no one over 130 lbs really has business sitting in, and maybe that float would still be alive today if I had suggested or just simply tossed the foam float to my friend. The other float, an inexpensive inflatable lounger literally burst at the seams as he attempted to beach himself atop it. The pool float never had a chance.

The Aquatic Urban Cowboy

Again, this breed of partygoer transcends age but is always a boy or a boy in a man’s body, and this person’s actions usually result in a popped float or tears (again, from child or an adult). This is almost always instigated by a giant pool float (in my case it was a giant sea turtle). The Aquatic Urban Cowboy is challenged by the rest of the boys to mount-up and see how long he can hold on as they thrash the float up and down, cannonball it off the diving board, and generally attempt to re-enact a mechanical bull with your pool float. If someone doesn’t get hurt, a float gets popped—or both.

The Eager Beaver

It’s definitely always good to provide pool towels for your guests at a pool party. This isn’t just for their comfort but as the party progresses and people tend to get looser people tend to forget to dry off before entering the house. It usually is prefaced by, “I’m going inside to get a drink, does anybody need anything?” This chivalrous individual, eager to return to the pool with drinks in hand, launches him or herself from the pool on to the deck and bee-lines for the kitchen. My kitchen has a linoleum floor that gets incredibly slippery when it is wet.  Slippery floor, plus slippery people equals slippery results. Find tactful ways to make sure your guests towel off before entering the house. It’s amazing how much traffic from the pool directly into the house (either to use the restroom or to refill their beverage) actually occurs.  Be particularly vigilant with a child friendly pool party.

The Thermostat Whiner

It’s one thing if a handful of guests mention that your pool is too cold, it’s another if it’s always the same person and only that particular person. Perhaps, I’m the only pool owner with this friend. But the pool is never warm enough for this individual. The conversation usually begins like this: “Wow! This water is COLD! What is the thermostat set to? Can we turn it up? There’s no way this pool is set to 86 degrees. Let’s just turn it up to 90. There’s something wrong with your thermostat….”  Clearly, this individual doesn’t appreciate the cost to heating a pool. I’ve found the best way to keep the Thermostat Whiner at bay is to agree to turn up the thermostat, walk around the corner to the pool heater, stand there for a second and do nothing, walk back and ask, “Is it warmer now!” The answer is always, “Yes!  I can feel a difference already!”

The Remodeler

I pride myself on having put together a well thought out pool deck and patio with several distinct sitting areas with a variety of chairs, ottomans, chaise lounges, stools and chairs.  There’s really no ambiguity of what chairs could be considered moveable over to the fire pit and which pieces of furniture should be considered permanent fixtures in their current space. None of these carefully, hand-selected comforts belong in the pool…EVER. It never fails though…  someone gets a little too comfortable in the pool and a little too at home and decides to move one of my Adirondacks into the shallow end of the pool! Also, if it has nice, outdoor cushions like my chaise or outdoor sofa, please don’t move it over next to the flaming firepit! Okay… sorry. Can you tell The Remodeler is my biggest pool party pet peeve?

The Nudist

Classic Pool Sign from PoolmasterSomeday, when there aren’t any children present, I’ll tell you the legend of Naked Guy at one of my pool parties. It’s a legend that actually spills over into my neighbor’s party lore as well because the Naked Guy just couldn’t be wrangled to just one party. Naked Guy was for everyone that night and showed up without warning to both parties. I wish I could give you some kind of guide of what to watch out for to avoid your own Naked Guy incident. But he usually appears without warning. Pool party nudists aren’t limited to men, either. There’s also Topless Girl. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with people wanting to swim or be naked but it’s always best to firmly establish whether it’s a Rated R or PG party.

The Nearly Nudist

This is a personal rule at my pool. Nudity may be tolerated at times but absolutely at no point are Speedos considered acceptable swimwear. C’mon guys. We aren’t in Western Europe or South America. This same can be said for thongs—for both men and women. No Thongs or Speedos at my pool. Luckily, I’ve never actually had to enforce this rule.

The Fire Stoker

I previously mentioned that we have a firepit. Sometimes we also have a smaller fire up near the pool deck. These are not gas firepits but wood burning, old fashioned firepits. You know, the kind where every guy standing around it suddenly becomes an expert on wood burning positions and the ultimate authority on what the fire does and does not need? We’ve never hosted a pool party that didn’t have a fire in the evening. And, I’ve never had a fire in the evening where it wasn’t constantly poked, prodded, repositioned, or over-stoked by the committee of men relying on their primitive know-how on how to keep the fire burning high. It is fun, but I’ve learned that one of the repercussions of all of that activity is that it kicks up a lot of embers into the air, embers that fall back to the earth and land in your pool. Ash is awful in a swimming pool. If you have a cover or a solar cover on your pool or even if you have floats in your pool, these ashes and embers can burn holes right thru!

Hopefully you can relate or learn from some of these questionable but ultimately loveable pool party guests. Perhaps you have a faux pas profile of your own that you encounter at your own pool parties?  We’d love to hear from you!

Drop us a line at or comment on our Facebook page where you can find this article posted.


Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite Preparing your Pool for a Pool Party

Pool parties are as much a part of owning a pool as chlorine and pool floats. While there are countless blogs and Pinterest boards featuring pool party recipes, decorations and themes, we’re not going there.

Today we dive deeper into the details of hosting a pool party – prepping your pool for the onslaught with tweaks to pool safety, some cool pool accessories, and solid water chemistry for a heavy swimmer load. Let’s jump right in!


pool life vests for kidsMay is National Pool Safety Month, and as the saying goes, “safety first!”  The number one priority of any pool party should be ensuring your guests are safe especially if your party is kid friendly. Young children should all be secured with life jackets or water wings, and remind them of the pool rules before unleashing them into the water.

Designate a Lifeguard! If you don’t hire a lifeguard, put responsible adults in charge of watching the pool, in 30 minute shifts. Give them a lifeguard hat to make it official. Deflect conversations away from your lifeguard, and show up promptly with a replacement guest-guard in 30 minutes. Accidents do happen, recruit your guests for better pool party safety.

pool first aid kitPool safety certainly transcends age, and the first party of the season is a great time to make sure that your handrails are secure, there are no loose steps on on your pool ladder, or loose bolts on the diving board. And, no pool should be without a first aid kit! Also be sure to store your pool tools, chemicals, and electrical boxes safely out of reach of children.

Dri-Dek pool floor tilesIf you have changing room or bath room that you know swimmers will be using during the party, you can put down a rug or even some non-skid tiles so that no one slips and falls. Dri-Dek tiles are an affordable and effective way to keep slippery swimmers safe. They lock together quickly and can be easily stacked during the off-season, or put to other uses.

POOL PARTY PREP: Pool Accessories

Outdoor pool showersA pool accessory that may not always be practical but certainly affects pool sanitation and will save you money in the long run is a pool shower. Asking your guests to shower before they enter the pool, that’s the impractical part, but affordable outdoor pool showers spare your pool sanitizer the extra work keeping the pool clean. Our simple hose-attached pool showers makes it convenient – maybe even fun!

BigFoot Foot Bath for poolsAnother great pool party accessory is the simple foot bath for your guests to rinse their feet off in before entering the water. Durable and easy to use, just fill our Big-Foot foot bath with pool water, and dump it out after the party. Stops grass clippings, dirt and gunk from sticking to kids faces – no fun!

blue striped pool towelsAt my own Las Vegas style pool parties, I like to make sure that I provide plenty of pool towels for all my guests. These In the Swim blue-stripe pool towels are super affordable at $19.99 per dozen. While guests may bring their own towels there certainly will be some that don’t. These look really pool-y, and everyone appreciates a fresh pool towel at the ready.

pool noodles and pool floatsA pool party can never have too many pool floats or pool noodles for guests to float around on especially if there are children involved. Investing in a box of pool noodles or several of these affordable Color Brite Pool Floats will ensure everyone that wants a float or a noodle will have one.

POOL PARTY PREP: Chemical Maintenance

In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about the chemical maintenance that goes into recovering your pool water after the heavy swimmer load of hosting a pool party. However, there are a few preemptive strikes that will put you ahead of the game and help ease the time it takes to get your water back to pre-party form.

InTheSwim Super Pool ShockThe first thing is to shock the pool, about a week before the party. My shock recipe is pretty simple. For my 20,000 gallon pool, if the water looks great, I use 2 lbs of pool shock. If it looks hazy and dull I use 3 lbs, and if there is measurable combined chlorine (chloramines), I would use 4 lbs. And for visible algae in the pool, I’d use 5 lbs of pool shock, for my 20K pool size.

Pool Perfect by Natural ChemistryTreating your water with a dose of Pool Perfect enzymes can help eliminate oily, waterline build up and removes human skin, hair and (other) waste, and any organic pollutants that find their way into the pool during a party. Not only do these enzymes help prevent stains, they also clarify, and help make sanitizers like chlorine last longer and work better. It’s a win-win-win.

In The Swim Pool ClarifierA pre-party treatment of In The Swim Clarifier is a smart move, especially for small filters that have trouble with heavy pool use. Pre-treating your water with clarifier a few days before the party will remove suspended but invisible solids that get in the way of sanitation, and make pool water dull and hazy. Pre-treat, before the party to give polish and shine to your pool water.

The Perfect Pool Party Plan:

Pool parties are certainly one of the best things about owning a pool but they can also lead to maintenance headaches and even some safety concerns when not approached responsibly. One of the most common questions we encounter is, “I threw a pool party, and now my water won’t clear-up!”. It is almost inevitable, depending on the size of your party, that your water is not going to be as clear as it was before the party. But with proper pool party preparation and planning… 🙂

Over the next few weeks we’ll be looking at the steps you can take to make pool party maintenance and safety as simple and effective as possible. Following the steps and tips suggested in this article is a great way to ensure your pool party will be off to a great start.

Now you only need to plan pool party games, and add décor and snacks!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger





Get your Swim On, America!

Spring Break. My kids excitedly clung to the pool coping at the deep end as their dad backed down the pool ladder and pretty much fell into the pool a little less than gracefully. The waves from my impact with the water scattered across the surface, lifting each kid up along the pool’s edge like boats on the incoming tide. They loved it of course, and I was just thankful no one else was near the pool, and that I’m a rather naturally-buoyant person.

As my kids swam about showing me their newly learned skills from recent swimming lessons, they were skimming the surface like dolphins, effortlessly kicking their legs and wiggling their bodies through the water, reaching the surface with a big smile and giggles, wanting to see me copy their moves. So I did, and I wasn’t smiling or wiggling, and I was more tug-boat-like than dolphin.

Swimming Freestyle - Illustration istockphotoIt was right then I decided this time in the pool would be a perfect opportunity to get some exercise. So I swam across the pool once, about 25 feet or so in distance, stopped long enough to turn around and swam back to where I started. It actually felt like a big accomplishment – so I did it again, and then a third time. The kids joined me, my oldest wanted to race me of course, pushing me to refine my stroke and speed. It felt great and quickly improved my mood – even before my first cup of morning coffee.

Reeling at the unfamiliar rush of energy, I lurched over to the waterfall and reached up to grab hold of the large flat rock. Pulling my arms to lift my head above the ledge, I realized I had just completed a pull-up, which is my first one since… ever, I do believe. I dropped myself back down fully into the water, and repeated the pull-up a few more times. The water kept my lower body just buoyant enough to make my body lighter but not completely weightless.

Of course I knew it was time to get out to supervise, so I swam to the pool ladder, dried off, put my t-shirt back on and went to join my wife, watching the kids in the little pool. My wife joined me and I explained how my little pool workout was invigorating and almost … enjoyable. Of course, she was happy to hear that, especially since she swims laps 3x per week, for exercise.

With a big grin, she started searching online for “water workouts”, and not surprisingly, there’s an amazing amount of ideas to be found. For instance, on, she  found these great stretchy cord water exercises.

water workouts Image credit to

She found a great ab workout for the pool, which I tested. Start by standing in the pool, with your back against the pool wall. Then place your elbows and forearms up on the pool deck, raising your body just slightly. Keeping knees locked and legs straight, move your legs from the vertical to horizontal position, hold them there for three seconds, and then bring your legs down. It’s easy enough to do several reps over three sets, but the water creates enough tension that you’ll feel your work in your stomach.

From swimming laps using a variety of swim strokes to working your legs, rear and abs using one of our classic pool kickboards, we found something that was low-stress but effective as a pool exercise. There are other muscle building and toning exercises that use your body weight and natural buoyancy, or you can make great use of a pool noodle.

Here’s another great chart that my wife came across – looks to be a few years old and maybe from an army field manual, but it gets the idea across just as well.

For more fun pool water workout ideas for your swimming pool, visit these other fine In The Swim blog posts for more cool pool exercises you can do to get back in summer shape.

Water Workout Calorie Burn Guide

Water Workout: 5 Pool Noodle Exercises

Water Aerobics and Water Fitness Exercises

AquaJogger Pool Fitness Routines


As Dr. Pool would say, Get your Swim On, America! There’s a hundred different ways to get a good water workout. Make use of your pool – that’s why you have it, for fun, fitness and family togetherness!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Favorite National Water Safety Month

Now that National Pool Opening Day is behind us, we flip the calendar to May, and begin to observe National Water Safety Month. As most pool owners are opening their pools this month, May is a fitting month for pool safety awareness.

Spring is also a good time to review and inspect – simple things you should do and know, and pool safety equipment and barriers that need to be maintained, to make your pool safe for the entire summer swimming season.

Pool safety all starts with taking pool safety seriously and making it your top priority. Some simple steps you can take to make your pool and pool area safer is to never allow children in the pool area unattended whether the pool is covered or not. Never let children near the pool unsupervised no matter what – this just can’t be stressed enough.

safer aboveground pool laddersFor aboveground pools, be sure to install (and use) a locking safety ladder. Above ground pool ladder systems range in prices and features, from basic locking ladders to  secure pool entry systems with a self – closing locking gate. Put that cheap ladder that came with your pool in the garage, and invest wisely in a locking pool ladder.

If you have an inground pool in the backyard, you should already have a perimeter fence around your backyard, but a secondary safety fence around your pool is even more effective to keep small swimmers from getting into the water.

safety-fence-gateRemovable safety fences that are quick and easy to put up and take down, are perfect for pool owners who plan to have family or friends visit on occasion.They can provide 4-sided pool perimeter protection, or the 10 ft sections can be linked to walls, fences or other barriers to separate the pool from the rest of the backyard, or in reverse to barricade the patio from the pool area.

As a final Layer of Protection, pool owners also can install pool alarms that detect motion in your pool water should a highly determined person defeat your pool safety defenses and precautions. Safety Turtle is another popular alarm for kids and pets, the wearable turtle wristband sounds an in-home alarm when submerged in water.

With all the pool safety equipment available, there’s still no substitute for being aware and prepared. The best thing you can do as a pool owner is know how to swim, and then teach your children how to swim. If you don’t know how or never learned how to swim, taking swim lessons is a great way to build your own confidence in and around the water and a great activity to do with your kids.

Learning CPRRed Cross water safety tips Infographic for children and adults is another great life-saving safety skill to know, allowing you to assist in pool emergencies while medical help is on the way. Something that is is much more common today than just 10 years ago is to have a phone nearby just in case you need to dial 911 in an emergency. Know where your phone is if you’re in the pool, and react fast to emergencies while trying not to panic.

Finally, if you notice a child is missing from your house or yard, make the pool or spa the first place you look. Seconds count when an inexperienced swimmer accidentally gets into the pool, so check the pool first, then other vulnerable places first before searching the yard or the neighborhood.

As we kick off May, the best way to “celebrate” Pool Safety Month is by knowing the best ways to be safe in and around the water, and then practicing those methods and use the right equipment to make your pool a fantastic, fun and safe spot to enjoy all summer long. Another way to celebrate is with low prices – check our safety equipment pages and our steps and ladders, we’re keeping sale prices all month long

Safe Swimmer PledgeTake a visit to for other pool safety resources like more useful Pool Safety Tips. Have your kids take the Safe Swimmer Pledge, suitable for framing! Click the image on the right for a larger version for printing (be sure to set your print properties to ‘Landscape’ printing).

Have a safe summer swimming season!


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



National Pool Opening Day!

National Pool Opening Day is a registered national holiday that falls on the last Saturday in April. You may have not heard of this joyous event before, but we celebrate the occasion every year, as pool covers come off all across America, and the pool season begins!

Not everyone opens their pool on the last Saturday in April, of course. Many northern pools stay buttoned up for a few more weeks, but this weekend is the perfect time to start the ball rolling by ordering your start-up pool chemicals, supplies or equipment now for the summer season!

To help you get in the spirit of the season, we’ve lowered prices this weekend on the pool opening supplies you need to join in National Pool Opening Day festivities! And, see our Spotlight Savings for more pool equipment specials.

And because this blog is all about pool information, here’s some tips to help you open the pool this weekend – the last Saturday in April, or at least to help you get prepared for your pool opening day, coming soon!

Take a Pool Chemical Inventory

You may not need all of these or may need other pool chemicals that aren’t listed below – every pool is a bit different in the what is needed for a pool opening. Check your stock on hand for start-up chemicals and season chemicals needed.

  • Chlorine tablets and chlorine shock >>>
  • pH increaser and decreaser >>>
  • Alkalinity and calcium increaser >>>
  • Cyanuric Acid or stabilizer >>>
  • DE Powder or Aqua Perl >>>
  • Algaecides, Clarifiers, Enzymes >>>
  • Test kit reagents or test strips >>>
  • Metal and mineral control or stain removers >>>

Inspect your Pool Equipment

Ah the big reveal – what will the pool look like underneath the winter cover? On National Pool Opening Day, take the time to closely inspect the pool, deck, equipment and supplies – to be sure you have everything you need to open the pool, successfully.

  • Inspect pool cover for holes or winter damage
  • Locate filter system drain plugs and pressure gauge >>>
  • Test pump motor briefly for a few seconds
  • Inspect pool cleaning tools, pole, brush, nets, vac >>>
  • Inspect filter, pump, chlorinator for visual damage
  • Clean off equipment area, trim overhanging branches
  • Inspect pool cleaner for needed parts >>>
  • Inspect skimmer baskets, lids and weirs >>>
  • Check pool lights briefly for a few seconds
  • Lube pump lid and filter o-rings with Teflon lubricant >>>

Pool Safety Audit

It’s easy to become complacent about pool safety in your quiet little backyard pool, but staying vigilant could prevent tragedy. Spring pool opening time is the perfect time to reassess your Layers of Protection around the pool, and take steps to protect family and friends.

  • Inspect the fence for gaps greater than 4″, between slats or below fence
  • Remove anything near the fence that could be used for climbing fence
  • Check that pool fence gates are self-closing and self-latching >>>
  • Keep pool chemicals separated, clean, dry, and out of reach of children
  • Inspect pool pump wiring and other equipment pad electrical
  • Push the TEST button on your GFCI outlet with a plug-in nite light
  • Push the TEST button on any GFCI circuit breakers (yellow button)
  • Check for loose coping stones, and inspect deck for trip hazards
  • Inspect main drain and suction covers for secure attachment
  • Plan a Pool Safety meeting for all pool users, and lay down the law

Happy National Pool Opening Day! We wish you an uneventful pool opening this Saturday, with blue water and nothing leaking, creaking or squeaking!

If you have any pool opening questions when you do start-up the pool, you can send an email to me, drpool, InTheSwim resident chemist and swimming pool evangelist!


Dr. Pool



10 New Pool Tools to Ease Pool Maintenance

image by istockphoto
As a pool owner, I always have my ear out for new and inventive pool products that help make pool maintenance easier. New Pool Accessories that promise to save time, money or effort (especially effort) will always pique my interest. This year does not disappoint, with springtime deliveries bringing in some great new pool tools to make pool maintenance easier, or at least more interesting.

  1. Filterballs Blu10 and Filterballs Minis

FilterBalls - filter sand alternativeIt’s a rare that a new product comes along that can potentially revolutionize an element of pool maintenance. In the case of Filterballs, this new approach to filter media can make your existing sand filter better. 1 pound of Filterballs is the equivalent of 100 lbs of sand, they function on a lower working pressure, have a 45% greater flow rate, filter better than sand at 10 microns, and they are 100% recyclable. Filterballs save time, money and effort. I’ll be swapping out the sand in my Hayward Sand Filter in two weeks with 3 pounds of Filterballs when I open my pool in two weeks. Stay tuned for more – we will post my FilterBall installation soon, with a review to follow after a few months.

  1. Leaf Bone – Leaf Net Skimmer Clip

the Leaf BoneFalling into the “why didn’t I think of that?” category is the new Leaf Bone Skimmer Clip.  I’ve tried various DIY concepts to attempt to employ my skimmer net full time by using duct tape and some other ideas that were not quite up to MacGyver standards. The Leaf Bone is brilliant in its simplicity. It snaps-on to standard pool ladders or hand rails and the opposite end snap fits to any standard leaf net. It dangles the net in the water to offer hands-free assistance to your skimmer. Why leave it hanging up on your pool deck when it’s not in use? Put it to work full-time with the Leaf Bone, and trap the leaves before they sink, to keep your pool cleaner and your skimmer basket from becoming jammed in the fall.

  1. 24” Commercial Strength Leaf Net

24" Jumbo Leaf RakeIt’s no coincidence that our next inventive product is a new take on an old standby – the leaf net, or actually the leaf rake. A few minor tweaks make a major impact with a nifty beveled edge that helps kick up debris more effortlessly and an extra-wide 24” mouth because in this case the bigger the leaf net mouth, the better. A heavy-duty aluminum frame covered with a super-strong protective plastic rim and a dual layer carbonized fabric net over a soft mesh makes this leaf rake tough enough to last for years. I’ve had mine for going on 4 years now, and it almost looks like new. No holes, no tears, just a little faded around the red rim – and I have put this skimmer net to the test many times, it easily dredges very heavy bag-fulls from the pool.

  1. Skim-It

skim itFull disclosure, the Skim-It isn’t really a “new” product but it’s a best seller that has proven to work that our customers (and myself) love to no end. I imagine a utopian future for pool owners where brilliant inventions completely eliminate the need for lifting a finger to skim the pool.  The Skim-It leads the way to this brave new world. With it’s tool-less, spring-loaded installation, it simply pops in and out it’s a convenient way to extend the reach of your skimmer niche. I bought one for my deep end skimmer last fall, and it literally reaches out into the pool and draws leaves into the basket. This meant much more basket cleaning, but less pool cleaning – mission accomplished.

  1. Skim Doctor 2.0

Skim Doctor 2.0Not a bad band from the 90’s, it’s yet another hands-free way to assist your pool’s filtration process. The SkimDoctor 2.0 easily attaches to any inground pool skimmer basket and instantly turbo charges the suction power of your skimmer creating a vortex system to draw more debris into your skimmer basket – up to 3 times faster, while also tripling basket capacity! If you have a variable speed pump it’s perfect for when using low speed modes because you can adjust it for low levels of suction. This skimmer suction turbo charger is compatible with most all inground skimmer basket and installs in minutes. This is one new product I have to buy this summer, you should see the video! Utopian pool maintenance future, here we come!

  1. Giant Inflatable Birds and Fantasy Beasts!

Fun Inflatables at InTheSwim, Swan Float, Flamingo Float, inflatable gators, pizza float, and more!Before you think to yourself, “Wait a minute! How are inflatable Pegasus, Parrots, and Unicorns (oh my!) pool maintenance inventions? Believe it or not, they help keep annoying birds from swimming in your pool when you aren’t around. This is especially an issue this time of year when self-entitled water fowl show up from their Florida winter homes and think they just found their roost for the summer, with your pool serving as their personal bath tub. This could cause undue trouble with algae and bacteria. Until we have Wacky Wavy-Arm Guys for the pool, a giant swan float or pool flamingo will work just as well to keep out birds, snakes or gators – OH MY! Plus, they look cool floating in the pool, and even cooler featured in your kid’s instagrams or snapchats.

  1. Shock Value Packs

Shock Value Packs of IntheSwim ShockNew to our In the Swim Brand chemicals are our Shock Value Packs. Frankly, we can’t believe it’s taken us this long to combine our best-selling pool shock products into a money-saving bundle. We all love chemical value packs, a great value that adds-up to more bang for the buck, especially when it comes to saving money on pool chemicals. Our shock value packs also combines our clarifier and algaecide for a powerful 1-2-3 punch that will have your pool looking picturesque faster than you can say “discount pool chemical value pack”! We’ve even custom tailored the doses for above ground or inground pool owners, so you always have the correct amount of shock for the job.

  1. InTheSwim Replacement Salt Cells

Whaaaat? InTheSwim Generic Salt Cells - Replacement Turbo Salt Cells ?!?It pains me to type this, but this stuff literally writes itself, I tell you. Last summer my salt cell began producing less chlorine than it should, and during a routine fall cleaning and inspection I noticed that one of the metal plate solder joints was broken, so I may be needing a new salt cell this spring. Fortunately, the company I work for has a new line of replacement T-Cell salt cells for Hayward Aquarite, Aqualogic, Swimpure and others that use a Turbo Cell T-15, T-25 or T-40. So, now we have our own In The Swim salt cells, and at a significant savings, too! Generic salt cells – what will they think of next?

  1. Intex Rechargeable Handheld Vacuum

Intex Pool Power Vac, rechargeable intex pool vacuumI personally haven’t tried this out yet but the early feedback from our customers are in with rave reviews. For those with Intex soft-sided pools, like Intex Metal Frame, Ultra Frame, Easy Set, or an Intex PureSpa the filter system may not be set-up to vacuum the pool. You can use a Leaf Rake (see above) for the heavy stuff, but how to get the smaller stuff? Intex invented this rechargeable pool vacuum for convenient spot cleaning in a lightweight, but powerful package with two interchangeable heads. It’s also great for anyone with a smaller pool or a spa, not just Intex pools and spas! Rechargable handheld pool vacuum can be used to spruce up the steps or swimout, areas that the pool cleaner may miss.

  1. StarWhite Above Ground Pool LED Light

Carvin pool StarWhite pool lightAnother one for the aboveground pool owners, didn’t want you to think we forgot about you! This last product is more of a new pool accessory but it’s actually a new and improved version of the Aqualuminator, this LED pool light is made by Carvin. StarWhite features a waterproof 15’ 3-prong cord to plug into a GFCI outlet. It fits to your existing pool return wall fitting, turning your pool wall return into a pool light return! StarWhite is perfect for smaller pools to allow you to clean the pool at night, and be able to see how dirty the pool really is! This affordable, 12V LED pool light is super bright but doesn’t use a lot of electricity to get the job done. It’s brilliant!


Have any questions about any of these new pool products or have a pool maintenance product that you think belongs on this list?  We love to hear from our pool community!  Drop us a line at


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger