Pool Bars for Backyard Parties

backyard-pool-barWhether it’s a swim-up bar, a built-in bar on the pool deck or a standalone tiki-style bar, adding a bar to your backyard pool area is a great upgrade. Just as the kitchen is the heart of the home, the pool bar can be a place where friends and family gather when you entertain around the pool. Pool and Patio bars are also a great place to enjoy a meal. Follow these tips when planning your backyard space to bring everyone together.

Consider the Scale of the Project

swim-up-barBefore planning anything, consider how much space you have to work with and how much you can afford to spend on the project. These parameters will help you determine what’s realistic and whether this is a DIY project or one requiring the expertise of seasoned professionals. For instance, if you’re on a tight budget and have some space restrictions, purchasing a smaller poolside bar/counter will cost up to $500, whereas an in-pool swim-up bar will cost in the thousands of dollars and require professional design and installation. Instructables.com has a great DIY Poolside Tiki Bar project for just a few hundred dollars in materials.

Select a Style of Pool Bar

pool-tiki-bar-instructablesThe best poolside bars complement their surroundings instead of steal the show as the center of attention. Let the style of your home and landscaping dictate the style of your pool bar. For a yard with a tropical feel, a Tiki Bar with thatched roof is the ideal addition to the backyard. If your backyard has a more formal and ordered layout, a simple stacked stone bar can blend nicely with the hardscape. Whatever your style, the goal is for the bar to blend seamlessly, so stick to the same materials that you already have in place throughout your pool area to create a consistent, cohesive look. Accessorize your bar by adding a theme to your new pool hangout; nautical, tropical, country; whatever you’re into.

Consider the Climate

ramada-pool-bar-and-outdoor-fireplaceThere are a variety of accoutrements you can add to the bar area to keep the temperature comfortable throughout the year. Shade is essential to any great outdoor gathering area. Building the bar under a simple shade structure like a Wood Ramada is one way to accomplish this, but installing a large shade umbrella over the bar area is equally effective for those on a tight budget. If you live in a dry, desert climate like the Southwest, a mister system can be a worthwhile indulgence to bear 100°+ heat. Likewise, stay warm on cool autumn and spring evenings by adding a propane patio heater near the bar to warm up a little quicker after a late night dip.

Coordinate Your Furniture

pool-stools-underwater-stoolsBring the entire scene together by selecting bar stools and bar-top decor that coordinates with the rest of your patio furniture. If you aren’t able to find bar stools that match your furniture exactly, make sure they’re at least in the same color palette. Check out these lighted Pool Stools for poolside or swim-up bars. Then you can tie the look together with outdoor throw pillows—add them on the chaise lounges, patio chairs and bar stools for a cozy, welcoming flourish. Finally, consider adding a large hammock, wind chimes and bird feeders in matching colors.


We like to explore all topics of pool decor on this blog, for more ways to add style and substance to your pool, see our Fun Stuff category, and design your own poolside bar to serve family and friends, around the pool!


Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Small Pool Water Features

Small Water Feature - photo by Polly Nimick
Pool Water Features is the catch-all phrase to cover any type of splashing, spraying, shooting water display that you can add to your pool plumbing.

From a spouting statuary in the corner of the pool, to stacked rocks releasing a babbling brook, they take on many forms.

Today’s photo blog is centered around small pool water feature ideas. The only limitation is your imagination (and your budget)!

Copper-finish Pedestal Fountains spill over into the pool for a soft splashy sound. Pedestal water features come in a variety of size, shapes and materials.pool-water-features-small-4

Sheer Descent™ Waterfall placed inside of a simple faux stacked rock wall, backed by bamboo and Buddha, to qualify as a tranquil, ‘zen pool‘. pool-water-features-small-1

Stacked rock Water Wall tucks nicely into the corner. Fed by a 2″ PVC pipe that separates into smaller branches to fill a small trough on top which overflows, more or less evenly.small-water-features-8

Rain Curtain Water Features are pretty special, and can be attached to any structure like a Pergola, or more elaborate arches, or where a patio roof overhangs the pool surface. small-water-features-pool-9

Poolside fountains, like the Scupper, sit on the side of the pool and connect via the pool return line, or dedicated pipe. Small pool water features often don’t need a separate pump, but use a valve to control the flow between pool returns and fountain pipes.pool-water-features-small-9

A Cascade Feature uses large flat rocks to create a tumbling river into the pool. A rubber membrane and lots of mortar is used to keep it leak-free. small-rock-waterfall-2

The Frog Spout is a classic villa pool fountain, and placed in a corner, they can be attached to a nearby pool return line, with a small valve for flow control. No need for a dedicated line or separate fountain pump.small-pool-frog-fountain

This minimal free standing fountain is barely there and can be turned on/off automatically with valve actuators, powered by a pool controller, and remote control.small-pool-small-fountain

Wall Spouts are a classic design, with Floral designs and Lion heads being the most popular. Raised walls also are retaining walls, for an upper deck area or planter area.pool-water-spouts

Deck Jets are a favorite for many pool builders. Small jets are placed in the deck to shoot a very accurate stream of water, which can also be colored with LED lights. small-pool-water-fountains

Adding small water features to your pool can be done as part of a renovation, or smaller spouts or fountains can be added anytime.

Pool Fountain Installation? Very small fountains or spouts can be tapped off of an existing pool return pipe, with a Tee fitting and a small valve. Larger fountains typically have their own dedicated pipe running from the equipment pad. Features with even greater water volumes are connected to a booster pump to supply it’s own water, without affecting filtration or circulation.

Contact us for help with your own DIY small pool water feature, or if you prefer to keep your hands clean – contact your local APSP pool professional for their ideas and pricing for the job.

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


US Olympic Swimming: The Thrill of Victory

Rio 2016 has been very fun to watch, especially when you root for American swimmers.

US Olympic swimmers have brought home the gold, and the silver and the bronze. 33 medals in all, 3x the closest competitor, Australia with 10 medals.

A sweeping success for USA swimming, and for Michael Phelps the Rio Games were “the cherry on top of the cake” before his second retirement.

Michael Phelps, 31, Baltimore, MD – the most decorated Olympian in History with 28 Olympic medals; 23 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze.

  • 100m Butterfly – Silver
  • 200m Butterfly – Gold
  • 200m Individual Medley – Gold
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Gold
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold
  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold

Katie Ledecky, 19, Bethesda, MD – was the favorite freestyler, and swept the women’s freestyle events, setting a World Record time in the 800m.

  • 200m Freestyle – Gold
  • 400m Freestyle – Gold
  • 800m Freestyle – Gold
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Silver
  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold

Ryan Murphy, 21, Naperville, IL
– swept the men’s backstroke events, taking Gold in the 100m and 200m, and setting a world record in the 4x100m medley relay.

  • 100m Backstroke – Gold
  • 200m Backstroke – Gold
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold


Simone Manuel, 20, Sugarland, TX – a freestyle sprinter, she tied for Gold while setting a shared Olympic record in the 100m freestyle event, and in the 50m free, missed Gold by .02 seconds.


  • 50m Freestyle – Silver
  • 100m Freestyle – Gold
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Silver
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold


Nathan Adrian, 27, Bremerton, WA – another freestyle sprinter, brought back to Bremerton 4 medals, and an Olympic record in the 4×100 medley relay.


  • 50m Freestyle – Bronze
  • 100m Freestyle – Bronze
  • 4x100m Medley – Gold
  • 4×100 Freestyle Relay – Gold


Maya DiRado, 23, San Francisco, CA – in her first and final (?) Olympics, the all-around swimmer took medals in several events.


  • 200m Backstroke – Gold
  • 200m Individual Medley – Bronze
  • 400m Individual Medley – Silver
  • 4×200 Freestyle Relay – Gold



Rio-2016-Caeleb-DresselCaeleb Dressel, 20, Glen Cove Springs, FL – he holds the NCAA title in the 50m freestyle, and won Gold on the 4x100m medley relay, setting a new Olympic record.

  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Anthony Ervin, 35, Valencia, CA – The oldest swimmer on the US team, and the oldest Gold medal winner in swimming, winning the 50 free by 1/100 of a second.

  • 50m Freestyle – Gold
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Lilly King, 19, Evansville, IN – one of the fastest breast-strokers in the world, she set an Olympic record and captured the Gold medal.

  • 100m Breaststroke – Gold
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold



Dana Vollmer, 28, Syracuse, NY – Gold medals in 2004, 2012 and now Rio 2016, the Butterfly and freestyle specialist adds 3 more medals to her cache.

  • 100m Butterfly – Bronze
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Silver
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold



Cody Miller, 24, Las Vegas, NV – a breaststroke specialist at his first Olympics, helped the 4x100m Medley relay team to their Gold medal Olympic record.

  • 100m Breaststroke – Bronze
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold



Conor Dwyer, 27, Winnetka, IL – part of the Gold medal 4x200m freestyle relay team at London 2012, he helped propel the team again to victory at Rio 2016.

  • 200m Freestyle – Bronze
  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Ryan Lochte, 32, Daytona Beach, FL – finished first in the 200m Individual medley heat, but placed fifth in the finals. Gold medal for his part on the 4x200m freestyle relay team.

  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Missy Franklin, 21, Centennial, CO – at London 2012, she took home 5 medals, 4 Gold. Like Ryan Lochte, she takes the Gold in the Rio 4x200m freestyle relay.

  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Kathleen Baker, 19, Winston-Salem, NC – in her first Olympic games, she captures two medals, for backstroke and as part of the 4x100m freestyle relay team.

  • 100m Backstroke – Silver
  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Abbey Weitzeil, 19, Saugus, CA  – American record holder in the 50m freestyle, she takes home two medals for her swims on relay teams.

  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Silver
  • 4x100m Medley Relay – Gold



Leah Smith, 21, Pittsburgh, PA – 2 year holder of the NCAA 500yd and 1650yd titles, she brings back two medals from Rio 2016.

  • 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Gold
  • 400m Freestyle – Bronze



Townley Haas, 19, Richmond, VA – American record holder in the 200m freestyle, he swam for Gold on the 4x200m freestyle relay.

  • 200m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Ryan Held, 21, Springfield, IL – first time Olympian, he helped propel the 4x100m freestyle relay team to a Gold medal at Rio 2016.

  • 4x100m Freestyle Relay – Gold



Connor Jaeger, 25, Fair Haven, NJ – distance freestyle swimmer placed fifth in the 400m event, taking the Silver medal in the 1500m race.

  • 1500m Freestyle – Silver



Chase Kalisz, 22, Bel Air, MD – breaststroke and butterfly swimmer, earned a Silver medal for his individual medley swim in Rio 2016.

  • 400m Individual Medley – Silver



Josh Prenot, 23, Santa Maria, CA – in his first Olympics, he swims to a Silver medal, missing Gold by .07 seconds.

  • 200m Breaststroke – Silver


Rio 2016 was more exciting than any other Olympics I’ve watched. The camera angles, the interviews and the HD quality was impressive, thanks NBC ~

In The Swim is proud of all of our USA swimmers, and I’m especially happy for Ryan Lochte, Ryan Murphy and Ryan Held! But seriously ~ our US Olympic swimmers have inspired thousands of kids around the world to learn to swim, fast.

Thanks to them, too.


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger





Great Exercises for the Home Pool

pool-fitness-ideas-istkGuess how the majority of Americans spend their leisure time? Watching TV, according to the American Time Use Survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We spend an average of 2.8 hours a day watching TV but only 30 minutes participating in sports, exercise and recreation activities.

If you’d like to move your body more, consider a nontraditional form of exercise such as working out in a pool. Pool exercise engages every muscle in your body, but is low-impact so you can burn calories and get fit without straining your joints.

Want a few good in-the-pool exercises to try? Here’s my favorite pool workout routines, along with some visual aids. 🙂

K-Tread in Pool

To do the K-Tread workout in a pool, swim to the deep end of your pool, make small circles with cupped hands and lift your right leg straight in front of you while reaching for the bottom of your pool with your left toes. Hold this position for five seconds and repeat with your other leg. This workout tones your arms, back, chest, abs, butt and hamstrings. Demonstrated below by Faith & Fitness.

  • You’ll Need: No special equipment needed
  • Time Required: 15 minutes
  • Average Calories Burned: 150

Never-Ending Laps

Even if you have a small pool, you can still swim laps. Home Swimmer is a soft, comfortable belt that secures around your waist and attaches to a stationary object at the edge of the pool to keep you in place, letting you swim against its resistance for as long as you like. Swimming in place strengthens your entire body, much like running does.

  • You’ll Need: Personal pool exerciser
  • Time Required: 30 minutes
  • Average Calories Burned: 600

Squat Step in Pool

Traditional squats are hard on the knees, but doing them in water puts less stress on your body and still makes for a great workout. Try standing with your feet together and your arms at your sides in a spot that is shallow enough to let you comfortably keep your head above water. Raising your arms to shoulder level, take an imaginary step with your left foot and squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do the same thing with your right leg. You’re doing the exercise correctly when it looks as if you’re climbing stairs while squatting. A simple pool squat is shown below, courtesy of Aqua-Exercises.com. aqua-exercises-animation-aqua-squat

  • You’ll Need: No special equipment needed
  • Time Required: 15 minutes
  • Average Calories Burned: 250

Otter Roll

This fun exercise targets your back, abs, butt and legs. Hug a Small Beach Ball to your chest while floating on your back with your legs extended and your feet together. Roll over the top of the ball to the left and make a full circle, returning to the top. If you find this too difficult, start off by rocking side to side instead, let some air out, or try a smaller beach ball. Demonstrated below by Faith & Fitness.

  • You’ll Need: A beach ball
  • Time Required: 15 minutes
  • Average Calories Burned: 250

Liquid Lunges

Use a pool noodle to create a more challenging exercise experience. Hold a pool noodle bent into a U shape, to the bottom of the pool while stepping over it into a lunge. Using a pool noodle while lunging works out the arms and increases back, butt and leg strength. This Pool Noodle Workout video below by Carol Largo shows you a few more pool noodle exercises you can try.

  • You’ll Need: A pool noodle
  • Time Required: 30 minutes
  • Average Calories Burned: 275

Before the summer pool season ends, take advantage of pool exercises to tone up and slim down. Nearly any pool workout routine will get the heart rate up and burn calories, and the buoyant water provides low impact protection to joints.

Get your Pool Workout On, America!


Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Baby’s First Swim

How old should your baby be before he or she has their first dip in the pool? Some sites suggest as young as 6 weeks, while others suggest waiting 12 weeks.

Most Mommy & Me classes begin at 6 months of age, but if you have a pool in your backyard, you can go in together nearly anytime conditions are good.

Infant swim programs don’t really do much swimming, the focus is on calmly enjoying the water; building up to some breath control and movement control, surfacing and rolling over for air, and where to find the pool exit.

To help your baby enjoy their first pool experiences with you, I’ve put together a quick list of five things to keep in mind for baby’s first swim, and a list of ten swim lesson ideas for babies or toddlers.

1.  Warm Pool Water

Mothers the world over know that the bath water has to be right, or else you face a fussy bather. When the water is warm however, 85-90° F, all is right with the world, and everyone enjoys bath time. It’s the same with pools, although, when you are holding baby close to your skin, you may also enjoy pool water in the 80-85° range. If your water tends to stay cooler, consider a solar blanket, which can add 10° to the water.

2. Swim Diapers

Whether in your own pool, or another pool, a Swim Nappy, as the say in the UK, is a required piece of swim gear for babies and toddlers. Swim Diapers aren’t poo-proof, and they won’t contain large, um… outbursts, but they fit snug around the waist and legs to buy you enough time to quickly exit the pool. Wearing a secondary thin diaper underneath can also be a good idea.

3. Water Sanitation

Make sure that your pool water is balanced, sanitary and well filtered, so that you can be reasonably sure that no germs are in the water. Test your pH, alkalinity, calcium and cyanuric acid levels, and be sure that a Free Chlorine residual exists of 1-3 ppm. Skip the lesson this week if the water looks cloudy or if you spot algae growing.

4. Sunscreen

For sensitive baby skin, use a sunblock cream that won’t wash-off in the water. Avoid using sprays which your baby may inhale. A thin fast drying swim shirt or tank suit with a cute little sombrero can be an alternative to potions and lotions. Umbrellas that can be placed near the pool can also give some shade while you bounce in the water.

5. Well Rested & Well Fed

But not too well-fed! Avoid feeding within 30 minutes of going into the pool, to prevent spit-ups. And if baby needs a nap, this swim lesson for baby may turn into nap time on your shoulder!

Baby Swim Lesson Ideas

Here’s a quick list of ideas for helping babies become accustomed to the new world of water. Take it slow and steady, and keep baby within her comfort zone. Repeat the same routine for each ‘swim lesson’. And most importantly, always be within arm’s reach of your baby while in the pool area.

1. “Sitting on the Steps”. Starting out slowly, baby-steps you know… (sorry!).

2. “Water Walking”. Just walking around the shallow end with babe in arms.

3. “Cruising the Pool”. In baby floats like the Baby Buoy or Baby Tugboat.

4. “Humpty Dumpty”. Sing the song and help baby ‘fall’ safely off the wall and into your waiting arms.

5. “Superman”. Hold firmly onto baby’s forearms and pull her thru the water.

6. “Back Float”. With your arms supporting back and head the entire time.

7. “Blow Bubbles”. At close range, put your mouth in the water and blow bubbles.

8.  “Look at Me”. Holding baby close, slowly go under water, and look at each other for just 1-2 seconds before resurfacing again.

9. “Underwater Superman”. Same as #5, but underwater for 2-3 seconds, pulling her slowly thru the water, and into your arms.

10. “Roll-Over”. Rolling over from a front float to a back float, with support and help from you, until they can do it safely on their own.

Take your baby swimming this summer, a clean backyard pool is the perfect place to start familiarizing your baby with underwater breath control, spatial awareness and how to float and move in water.

>>For everyone’s safety, have another adult present during baby swim time, or invite another baby and caregiver to the pool for a regular ‘swim session’.

>>Always remember to hold a baby securely while in the pool, or stay within arm’s reach at all times. Never leave a child alone in the pool area.



Dana Katz
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


USA Olympic Swim Competition Schedule


The Rio Olympic Games are getting underway on Friday, August 5th, with the Opening Ceremony broadcast to billions of homes.


NBC will once again be providing coverage, with nearly 300 hours of Olympic events being shown. Daytime events run from 10-5pm EST, while semi-final and final events are shown prime time from 8pm-1am, until the games end on Sunday August 21.

Olympic Swimming schedule begins on Day 1: Saturday, August 6th, and runs for 8 straight days until the final Relays are held on Saturday, August 13th.

NBC Olympic swimming television schedule: August 6-13. During the day, Swim Heats are televised from 12-2pm, and at night, from 9-11pm EST, NBC broadcasts the Semi-Final and Final races for each swim event.

Day 1: Watch Maya DiRado make her Olympic debut in the 400m Individual Medley, and will Katie Ledecky anchor the 4x100m Relay?rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-1a

Day 2: All eyes will be on Olivia Smoliga during the 100m Butterfly, but she could be edged out for the finals by Dana Vollmer or Kelsi Worrell.rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-2

Day 3: Watch David Plummer and Ryan Murphy battle it out for Gold in the 100m Backstroke and Lily King and Katie Meili compete in the 100m Breaststroke. rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-3

Day 4 – Can a new team of Haas, Conger, Dwyer and Lochte keep the 10 year US dominance in the 4x200m Freestyle Relay? Check out Lochte’s new hair color!rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-4

Day 5: After a duel in the pool between Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky last night, look for them to join forces in the 4×200 Women’s Freestyle Relay tonight.  rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-5

Day 6: Can Lochte finally beat Phelps in the 200m Individual Medley?rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-6

DAY 7: Can Katie Ledecky sweep the 200m, 400m and 800m Freestyle events?rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-7

Day 8: Last day for medals and only finals including the two final 4x100m medley relays, which are always very fun to watch.rio-olympics-swimming-schedule-day-8

So remember, Rio Olympic swimming times are August 6-13, from 12-2pm and 9-11pm (EST). Don’t miss out on all the excitement!

In addition to watching Olympic swimming on TV, you can also use your phone or tablet to watch Live Streaming of swimming events, or catch Olympic swim coverage on other networks in the NBC Universal ‘pool’ – Telemundo, Bravo, USA Network, MSNBC,  NBCSN and CNBC.

Bob Costas will again anchor NBC’s prime time Olympic games coverage, and Ryan Seacrest will host the late night programming. Al Michaels will be the NBC daytime host.

In The Swim is backing our US Olympic Swimmers – all the way to Rio! Enjoy the games, I’ll be reporting Race Results after the last swim race, in our last post in the series, called The Thrill of Victory!.

Go USA Swim Team!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Adding Music to your Pool & Patio

Adding music around a pool makes pool time much more enjoyable, whether you are in the pool, cleaning the pool, or tending to the landscape.

If you already have an in-home stereo system, you could connect outdoor speakers to the receiver, but wiring is difficult and the controls – are inside the house.

The choices are endless for outdoor audio systems, so let’s break it down into a few simple set-ups that you can do yourself without spending thousands.

Speaker Location

outdoor-speaker-zones-smallThe first step is to decide where you would like music to be playing. If your pool is close to the house, or if you have other structures near the pool, hanging outdoor speakers under the roof eave is a popular choice.

When the pool is located a good distance from the house, you may want speakers for pool lounging and seating areas. And for very large backyards with several areas for gathering, you may want to plan your outdoor music system with music ‘zones’, where you can control volume and even music selection, independently.

Outdoor Speaker Selection

When outdoors, music speakers compete with a lot of ambient noise, and don’t gain from reflecting off indoor walls and furniture.

The number of speakers you choose depends on how big of a space you are trying to fill with sound. The volume or loudness depends on speaker size and amplifier / receiver size.

Most outdoor pool systems will have 2-4 speakers, but larger areas could benefit from more speakers, especially if you have separate gathering areas spaced a distance apart.

Bluetooth Rock Speakers

rockustics-rock-speakerWireless Rock Speakers allow you to connect your iPod, Tablet or Smartphone or any Bluetooth enabled device, to play your favorite stored music or stream from music services like Pandora or Spotify, or dial in your favorite radio station from their website.

Smaller wireless speakers are rechargeable, while larger ones plug the master speaker into a 115V outlet, which also powers a secondary speaker.

Wireless speakers can also receive a wireless signal from the house, if placed within the wifi range.Or, use wireless speakers with the Sonos Connect, to create a secondary wifi network, or to expand your home wifi network to the backyard.

Sonos Connect and Connect:Amp

sonos-ampsSonos is a very popular wireless music system for the home, and it’s what I have in my house, and outside on the patio. Easily connect to your PC music files, music streaming services and internet radio. The Sonos App puts you in full control, and the wireless speakers are easily moved from one room to another.

Sonos does not make an outdoor speaker however, but there are two ways around the problem. For my outdoor music, I connected a Sonos Connect:Amp in my garage, and connected speaker wires through the eave, where my outside (Yamaha) patio speakers are mounted.

Another route is to use the Sonos Connect (No Amp), and hook it up to your existing amplifier, receiver, or directly to your internet router. Place it near the pool for a dedicated wifi network with access to online radio, music streaming or a PC music library.

Niles Planter Box Speakers

Niles-Audio-planter-speakerLike Rock Speakers, Planter Box Speakers are designed to be hidden, and in this case, dual purpose! Large planter area accommodates flowers, bushes or tropical plants. Place them at the corners of your pool deck, or on the outside edge of a raised deck area.

Niles Planter Speakers use a 2-wire speaker cable run underground inside of 3/4″ conduit, that connects to a receiver or amplifier set up in a protected location.

weatherproof-stereo-volume-controlA popular set-up is to run wires from planter or rock speakers, to the Sonos Connect:Amp, and then control it with your phone or tablet. You can also install an outdoor volume control knob, as shown here from Niles Audio, which also makes some great outdoor underground sub woofers, if you like to turn up the bass!

Sorry for talking so much about Sonos, but I do love mine! But really, any $100 receiver will do the job for an outdoor audio system, especially if you just want to listen to radio, or play a CD collection.

And, unless you’re a serious audiophile, there’s no need to get all caught up in complicated multi-channel systems – just keep it simple like me, with an amp/receiver, some speaker wire and a couple of outdoor speakers mounted under the roof eave, or hidden among the bushes..


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Floods, Fires & Twisters: Natural Pool Disasters II

As a follow up to an earlier article by the same name, we return to the subject of pools that get in the way of natural disasters.

America ranks as tops in the world for natural disasters. More than any other country, as reported by a 10 year UN study on weather related disasters.

A short photo journal of swimming pools that have weathered the storm, and some that did not fare so well.


In this photo below, from AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, wildfires in California burned this indoor pool to the ground, as reported by telegraph.co.uk.wildfire-damage-to-pool-AP-Photo-Rich-Pedroncelli-via-telegraphcouk
The pool below survives the inferno, while the home does not. The pool cover has melted, and the fireplace seems to be screaming. Photo by National Geographic.fire-damaged-pool-national-geographic


Tornadoes can develop quickly when conditions are right, and in a matter of minutes touch down with incredible fury. In this case, the tornado sucked the water out of the pool, right through the mesh safety cover, which was on the pool.tornado-sucked-the-water-out-of-this-pool
Eugene Thompson, found his horse in the pool after a tornado; a worse fate could have befallen this fine fellow. Photo Wichita Star, via Kansas.com.
Tornado in a suburb of Atlanta, GA deposits nearly every kind of debris into the swimming pool. Photo courtesy of NOAA Photo Library.


Seismic activity can produce powerful forces underground, which cause shifting soils and water tables, as this New Zealand countryman found out first hand. Photo by Mart the Rev.

Reinforced concrete is pretty strong stuff, but given a strong enough earthquake, stress can cause cracks as the ground ripples and shakes.

Here’s a video of a “Pool Tsunami”, starting at about 1:00 min, is fairly frightening to watch.  The pool survives the strongest earthquake to hit the region in 50 years.


When flood waters from overflowing rivers or tropical storms or hurricanes recede, they leave behind tons of silty brown dirt that can take weeks to clean up. Photo by HealthyWA.

Aboveground pools do have their advantages! If they are not in the path of rushing water, and as long as waters don’t get too high, they weather the storm.

After the water recedes however, there will be a thick blanket of mud all around the pool, with staining to the pool walls. Pool pumps will certainly need to be replaced.flooded-intex-pool

This last photo was titled “pool in neighbor’s yard”; the result of massive flooding after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.hurricane-katrina-popped-pool


What can you do? Not much. Don’t cover the pool, unless you want to risk damage by flying debris, or burns from hot fire embers.

For heavy winds or flooding, remove any loose items from around the pool, including cleaning tools, toys, furniture and pool cleaners, and store them safely. Loose skimmer lids can be screwed in place or stored indoors.

If your pool pump is removable, move it to higher ground before the waters rise, to save the expense of motor replacement.Turn off all power at the breakers if flooding seems imminent.

There’s not much you can do to protect your pool from natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Just make sure to keep yourself and your family safe – and don’t worry about the pool. It’ll be fine.


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Trends in Swimming Pool Decking

trends-in-swimming-pool-deckingSwimming pool decks have come a long way from plain ol’ concrete.

Upgrading a pool deck is one of the most popular pool renovation projects, but the array of pool deck options can be dizzying!

In today’s post, we break down pool decking into four distinct types; concrete, tile, wood and natural stone pool decks.


Concrete pool decks have the most finish options, in fact with the exception of wood decks, all pool decks have at least a reinforced concrete sub-deck – it’s what you put on top that makes all the difference

colored-concrete-pool-deckColored Concrete: Matte or flat hues can be added to concrete by adding a colorant dye to the mix, or adding a powder or acid stain after the concrete is poured. For blended colors that resemble stone or for color accents or patterns, a colorant is applied to fresh concrete, to dye only certain areas.


trends-in-pool-decking--engraved-concreteEngraved Concrete: Using a small concrete saw, the pool deck can be scored or engraved to create stone shapes, leaves, vines or any type of intricate pattern. Engraving is also used to create water drain channels on concrete pool decks with poor drainage.


trends-in-pool-decking---sandblasted-concreteSandblasted Concrete: Sandblasting a pool deck will roughen the surface for more traction, but it also imparts a matte finish to the concrete, producing beautiful results, especially for colored or stained concrete. Acid washing a concrete pool deck can produce a similar result; both must be done with care for good results.


trends-in-pool-decking--salted-concrete-deck-finishSalted Concrete: After pouring and troweling a pool deck, rock salt is scattered over the surface, and lightly pressed into place. After a day of hardening, the deck is power washed to reveal an attractive pock marked surface. Snow belt pools should seal a rock salt pool deck regularly to prevent freeze damage during winter.


trends-in-pool-decking---colored-and-polished-concretePolished Concrete: For pool decks that are quite level and hard, polishing can be an option to produce a lustrous sheen. Adding colorful aggregate can produce a floor with the look of Terrazzo. Polishing concrete is done after the deck has cured fully, and should be sealed regularly to keep it looking good.


trends-in-pool-decking--stamped-concreteStamped Concrete: While the concrete is still wet, large rubber stamps are placed and pressed to form stone shapes, brick patterns, even pine plank imprints. Dozens of patterns to choose from, with colors chosen to match the material that is being simulated.


trends-in-pool-decking---tiled-or-stenciled-decksTiled Concrete:  More commonly called stenciled concrete, installers make a tiled pattern over prepped concrete with heavy duty tape. They then spray on a colored cement over the existing deck, and knock it down with trowels, similar to a Kool Deck. The tape is then pulled up to reveal the ‘mortar joints’ between the tile.


trends-in-pool-decking---paver-decksPatio Pavers: A paver pool deck uses interlocking patio pavers made of colored concrete, usually in shades of brown or red. Pavers are installed on a 1″ bed of polymer sand, over top of 6″ of stone dust, or other sturdy sub-deck. Heavier pavers are used around the outside deck edge to hold it all together.


trends-in-pool-decking---exposed-aggregate-concreteExposed Aggregate: This method lays a fresh concrete deck a particular size and color stone, glass or ceramic aggregate added to the mix . The top layer of cement is washed away, revealing the surface of the aggregate rock. Smooth stones are used for bare feet comfort.



trends-in-pool-decking---tile-decksA good way to upgrade a pool deck is to place outdoor porcelain or ceramic tiles on a bed of thinset mortar. Pool deck tiles are available in hundreds of shapes and colors, and have available decorative accents, mosaics and trim tile sets to complete a unified patio or pool deck design. Finish with a waterproof, anti-skid sealer.


trends-in-pool-decking---wood-deck-aExotic hardwoods like Ipe wood are popular, but also is regular pressure treated pine 2×4’s. A wood deck has timeless appeal, adding warmth and comfort to any pool deck. Partial wood decks can occupy 1 or 2 sides of a pool, or be built on top of a concrete deck as a raised lounge area.


trends-in-pool-decking---travertine-stone-deckNatural Stone also has a timeless appeal, and nothing will last longer. Natural stones such as flagstone, limestone or travertine are placed over a solid sub-base of concrete or stone dust. After placement of a stone deck, the joints between are usually filled with mortar, and a sealer applied to protect the luster and color.

So you see ~ pool deck choices are numerous, and if you want to upgrade your pool look, it’s hard to change the pool itself, but the pool deck can be easily transformed with color and texture.

Call your local pool deck contractor for more information and pricing, which can vary from $10-$25 per square foot for a custom pool deck.


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor














Favorite Take Amazing Underwater Pool Photos

how-to-take-amazing-underwater-photos-istkOne of the best photo albums I’ve ever flipped through is my cousin’s summer photo collections, filled with underwater photos of kids, friends and family.

Over the years, she has gotten really good at pool pictures. So I asked if she could share tips on underwater photography.

She wishes to remain nameless, but her secrets are now revealed ~ 5 tips for taking amazing pool photos!

camera-iconGet the Right Light

“The most important element is your lighting, so I try to shoot mid-day, or when the sun is directly shining on the pool. If the sun is coming at an angle, be sure to shoot towards the lighted side of the pool.” she said. I asked her if she ever did any night pool pictures, and how do they turn out? “You can actually get some very eerie pictures, if that’s what you’re going for, by shooting at night with the pool light or patio light to give a glow, but…I don’t normally…” OK, I get it, take your pictures in broad daylight, Let’s move on.

camera-iconStay at the Surface

“The lighting is best in the first two feet below the surface, and I love to capture a colorful reflection from the water’s under-surface.” So no deep end photos, I asked? “Sure, you can shoot in the deep end, but the deeper you go, the more the picture tends to wash out; you lose color and contrast.”


camera-iconGet Close-Up

Far away pool pictures? No, no. “Get Close-Up to your subjects, fill the entire frame with them.” This also helps avoid the loss of sharpness by taking pictures through water. “The farther away you are, the blurrier the pictures are”. Action photos, or several subjects in the picture may require more distance, but still try to fill the frame with your subjects. and remember to move yourself actively, underwater, to line up the best shots.

camera-iconReady, Set, Action!

Favorite poses, or action type of pictures? I asked. She laughed and said “I always do some sky diver poses, where I tell them to act like their falling through the air, with arms outstretched. Or sometimes I tell them to act like they are floating weightless in space”.


She also likes underwater somersaults, the Superman (wall push-off), or any dry land pose that can be done underwater. “Bubbles from a jump in the pool, or while sliding into the pool can be dramatic, but you sometimes have to take ten shots to get one good photo”.

camera-iconUnderwater Props

Be careful about bringing anything sharp into the pool, especially for vinyl pools. No glass, metal or oily things (like bicycles). “We’ve done pool pictures with hats, tennis racquets, or a skateboard, but nothing big. Two years ago I took some photos with the kids in Halloween costumes, and I took shots of my husband in his business suit, striking a pose underwater – he put it on his business card.” Lol, artsy pictures of people underwater in clothes is actually an entire business for photographers such as Elena Kalis.

camera-iconSpecial Pool Photography Gear?

I asked if there was any special gear that is needed for great underwater pool photos? “Not really, I use a snorkel sometimes, or you can just hold your breath”. What camera do you use? I asked. “Canon DSLR, with a wide angle lens, in a waterproof case of course” she said. “But you can use an iPhone, in a waterproof case, I hear they take great pictures underwater”. Do you use a flash? I wanted to know. “The flash on most phones or cameras is not bright enough, underwater, to see much difference really…”. Professionals use underwater strobe lights and/or large lamps on the deck shining into the pool.

camera-iconOther Pool Photography Tips?

“When photographing children, and also adults, remind them to open their eyes and smile, and to look directly at the camera. Group shots are great, but you may need to take a dozen shots to get one where everyone has eyes open and big smiles, so keep clicking the shutter! Oh, and tell them no ‘puffer fish’…”(cheeks full of air and pursed lips).


Thanks, Cuz! Tried and true methods to take amazing underwater pool photos. If you have a camera, get a waterproof case, and some willing subjects – and get started on your own photo album of cool pool pictures!

Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger