In The Swim Holiday Pool Toys Gift Guide

Winter Holidays are a great time to surprise the people on your shopping list with pool toys and floats. For one, it’s probably the last thing they’d expect, and second, now is the time to take advantage of In The Swim’s Winter Holiday Sale!

Great floats like the Giant Swan or Alligator look hilarious next to a tree overflowing with gifts and can also be timely for the family winter vacation to a sunny beach or pool.

Giant Animals Floats 

Floats like the Giant Flamingo, Pegasus, or Swan lend an air of elegance to your pool, ambiance  even? Kids and teens just flip for these fun pool inflatables. Pool gifts just make a natural and fun addition to a stack of gifts – even if your pool is closed for winter!

From giant inflatable rubber ducks to sharks, and  unicorns to parrots, there’s a giant animal ride-on float for everyone.

Naughty or Slice?

If giant animal riders aren’t your thing, maybe you’re a bit of a foodie? With 7 kids growing up, it was always tough for my folks to buy something to make each kid happy and even harder to buy something that we all could enjoy together.

The Giant Pizza Slice Float is great because each slice can connect to another to make a giant pizza, or half pizza – depending on how many slices are in your home.

Everybody loves pizza and this pizza slice float, plus nobody can argue about what’s on it when you are the topping!

LED Light-Up Pool Float

pool candy led pool loungeThe Pool Candy LED Lighted Pool Lounger is as versatile as a pool float can get. Vivid, color-changing LED’s fit right in with any holiday decor – but mainly will look really cool on a warm summer evening. Imagine floating on your LED pool float at night, with a warm glow of colored LED lights underneath. Tailored made for your Instagram and Facebook posts!

The LED pool lounge lights up in blue, red, yellow, green, and purple with 3 light modes: Flash Slow, Flash Fast, or Glow. Runs on 3-AAA batteries, which are generously included, so you can inflate it right away.

All the Reindeer Games

pool porto-o-pong game with Santa ClausPort-O-Pong, or maybe EggNog-O-Pong is fun in or out of the water and at any time of year. It quickly inflates or deflates to fit into your suitcase making it great for travel. Standard beer pong board with ten  20 oz ‘Solo’ cup holders on either side, plus an additional holder for a social or rinse cup.

Cool Jam Pro Pool Basketball Set

Swimline Cool Jam Pro pool basketball gameTake it the hole Santa!  The man jumps up chimneys so you know he has game. CoolJam Pro Pool Basketball Set sits on the pool deck with a water-filled base to keep it stable. Height adjustable backboard for all ages.

Cool Jam Pro includes game ball and the full-size standard basketball rim. Packs flat into a box small enough to fit under the tree, yet large enough to incite wonder and wild speculation.

Using Your Noodle

santa with a box of noodlesOur big box of 35 Pool Noodles makes a great ‘stocking stuffer’ or is perfect for crafty holiday decorations. One quick Pinterest search for “Pool Noodle Ideas” quickly opens up an endless rabbit hole of downright inventive and border line genius ways to re-purpose a pool noodle.

With so many fun things to do with pool noodles, they’re great to keep on hand for a quick and fun project.

Two of the many inventive pool noodle decorations on Pinterest

A Holiday In Margaritaville

Whether you are a Parrothead or just a fan of drifting on the water in comfort and style – the Margaritaville Oversized Lounger can hold any ‘full-size’ Santa.

The graphic reads “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” and this super stable float features an innovative soft fabric top with water-activated graphics. Once the float is wet, vibrant tropical-themed colors appear!

Water-Activated, Super Soft, Tough like Steel. What is this magic fabric?

Fun: Above All Else

Holiday gifts from In The Swim guarantee one thing above all else: fun! And whether it’s snowing where you live in December or if you are packing up the family for warmer shores, a surprising pool float or pool game gives everyone something to look forward to whether your destination is pool opening day or a New Year in the tropics.

See all our categories of year end special pricing – Going on Now, at

Happy Holidays!



Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



In-Ground, On-Ground, Above-Ground Pool Ideas

With the In The Swim Custom Pool Builder, you have the option to custom build your above ground pool to fit perfectly in your backyard space.

If you already own an above ground pool, or if you are eye-ing our above ground pool sale just in time for the holidays, here are 10 inspiring above ground pool ideas, to make your pool really pop!


It’s not common but it’s not impossible either, and this pool is proof that you can add a pool slide and a diving board and base combo to a pool deck surrounding a (partially) above ground pool. Our inground pool kits (16’x32′ or larger) can be built with the proper depth and slope to allow for a diving board and slide, or built with a sport bottom, which is deep in the center of the pool. In this case, excavation is limited to the hopper bottom. This is known as On-Ground, an aboveground pool with a deep end.

photo courtesy of


Simply adding an organic facade element around the steel walls of a pool can dramatically improve the aesthetics of any above ground pool and create a more natural presence in your backyard. From simple beams of lumber to bamboo to elephant grass, covering the metal walls of a pool is a generally affordably and simple DIY project that can go a long way to give an ordinary above ground pool a real “Wow!” factor.

aboveground pool wrapped in wood

photo courtesy of

When budgets allow, adding wood or stone can have a dramatic effect, as shown in these inground pool kits used on-ground. This pool is partially in the ground, which reduces the excavation work, then wrapped in paver stones.

semi inground pool with paver stones

photo courtesy of Brothers 3 Pools


This pool not only applied the organic facade technique from the previous example but also used the natural incline of their backyard to their advantage by adding a deck. The gravel makes for a nice frame to define the space but also functions to prevent soil erosion from rain runoff due to the hill. Semi inground pools stay cleaner as the raised sides block blowing leaves, and the taller sides also have a safety benefit for kids and animals.

phot showing aboveground pool with outside wood panels

photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools


Adding a deck around the entire perimeter of a rectangular above ground pool can make you forget that it’s not actually an inground pool. Depending on the height of the deck, the depth of your pool, and the deck access points, it isn’t unfathomable to pull this off.
photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools

photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools


Or a semi-inground pool – depending on your perspective. This pool uses the existing hill in the backyard to cozy the entrance of the pool right up to the patio. An advantage of a semi-above ground pool is that the ground acts as a natural insulator to help regulate pool temperatures. Here’s two examples of Radiant ® Pools, built into sloping backyards.

photo courtesy or Ohio Pools

photo courtesy of Brothers 3 Pools

photo courtesy of Brothers 3 Pools


This vinyl on-ground pool uses mock stone panels to frame the outside rise, and wood as a bench-like deck or lounging area to completely make everyone forget that this very well could be one of our vinyl pool kits, looks like our 16×40′.

pool with wood deck

photo courtesy of Amidonian Design & Renovation


This pool is essentially a culmination of several of the previous examples with the added touch of a fountain. The raised finished deck surrounds this small on-ground pool, giving the appearance of an inground pool, and the stone fountain makes a nice compliment to the organic elements at work here. The end result is a spa-like vibe that abolishes any reservations one may have towards above ground pools.

pool with wood deck and water feature

photo courtesy of Aqua Star Pools


Not all above ground pools have to be circular or rectangular, and this pool is proof. The angled plank wood deck really accentuates this pool’s unique size and modified kidney shape, which looks a lot like our ‘Aspen’ pool shape. Vinyl inground pool kits can be built in-ground, on-ground or above-ground.

kidney pool with wood deck

photo courtesy of Sparkling Pools & Spas


These are two great examples of adding soft exterior lighting around the deck and under the pool coping for a warm, almost mysterious glow. Both compliment the interior pool lighting perfectly to give each of these pools style that transcends whether or not it’s in or on the ground.

aboveground pools with lights

photos courtesy of Aquastar Pools


For larger budgets, a raised wood deck above a concrete and glass pool can completely redefine the concept of an above ground pool.

These last few break all boundaries of a typical above ground pool by using elements typically found in high end inground pools. Extra thick safety glass is super strong and allows you to enjoy the pool from all sides. It can also be employed as a safety fence.

photo courtesy of Hamlet Projects

photo courtesy of Frameless Impressions

Above ground pools have become easier and easier to order online and conveniently delivered to your front door to be installed in a matter of hours. What was once deemed a lavish luxury is now obtainable even for those with the tightest of backyard budgets!

In The Swim currently has holiday sales on Intex Ultra Frame Pools and on permanent Steel Wall Pools. Winter is the best time to buy, and the best time to plan your spring pool installation.

See our inground pool kits also, which can be DIY installed in less than one week, and can be put in-ground, on-ground or above-ground! 


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Favorite Swimming Pools as Film Icons

Swimming pools are everywhere, over 8.5 million pools in the U.S., and they’ve played a starring role in many Hollywood movies. Besides being a prominent part of the physical landscape of America, pools are woven into popular culture.

Pools are status symbols, and have been for nearly 70 years. Even before Hollywood helped to glamorize pools in the 50’s-60’s, we had the Great Gatsby’s party pool, and the opulence of the Randolph Hearst Neptune pool.

Pools provide a dramatic backdrop for character development, and add elegance,  sensuality, fear or mystery to the script. Every decade has produced popular movies with memorable pool scenes.

Here’s a timeline of 26 films over the past 8 decades, featuring my favorite star, swimming pools! How many of these pool scenes do you know?


Cat People 1942 movie featuring pools


It's a Wonderful life movie, pool scene


sunset blvd movie pool scene


Esther Williams Million Dollar Mermaid movie


Something's Got to Give - Marilyn Monroe's last movie...


Dustin Hoffman in the Graduate, floating in the pool


The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster, 1967


Robert Redford in the Great Gatsby pool scene


Rocky Horror Picture Show pool scene


Steve Martin in The Jerk, Pool Scene where Navin Beats the Racists


Caddy Shack film, with the famous Baby Ruth incident


Fast Times at Ridgement High - "Hi Brad, you know how cute I always thought you were"


Cocoon Movie pool scene


Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School, doing the Triple Lindy


Sand Lot movie, one of the most memorable movie pool scenes


Boogie Nights movie pool scene


Denise Richards and Kevin Bacon in Wild Things movie


Bill Murray in Rushmore, pool scene


Billy on the Roof top yells "I am a Golden God", before jumping into the pool


Pool Volleyball strategy session, before Ben Stillers spiking the ball - Meet the Parents movie pool scene


Swimfan movie - stalker girl watching her prey swimming


Old School movie, Will Ferrel takes a dive, after getting hit with a horse tranquilizer to the jugular


Grown-ups movie pool scene - water turns blue if you urinate!


James Bond in Skyfall movie pool scene


Oblivion movie pool scene - a pool in SPACE!


Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers, with the anti-gravity pool, just before suffering gravity loss

And there are many more examples, I had to stop myself! Pools are as part of America as baseball, Mom and apple pie. They are indeed everywhere, and not just physical but meta-physical too – a part of our shared culture and heritage, swimming pools have become part of our very selves.


Davy Merino
InTheSwim Blog Editor


Best Chemicals for Winterized Pools

By the time I am done wrestling my Big Green Safety Cover into place, I am ready to forget about my pool until the spring. And, the last thing I want to think about is buying more pool chemicals. Over the years, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons and tips to actually buy less pool chemicals by buying a few key pool chemicals for the winter.

This has actually saves me money in the long run because my pool is in much better shape when it comes time for round two vs my safety cover in the spring. dose of the right stuff in the middle of the winter and at the beginning of spring helps fight algae, staining, and removes organics, dirt and tannins that lurk beneath pool safety covers.

I winterize my pool with a winter closing kit every year. They are a great way to get everything at once at a discount price. For my pool, winter kits are a great way to start the winter but I need a little back up, to avoid the Creature from the Black Lagoon, next year!.


Algaecide 60 Plus

Depending on the size of your pool, and condition of your cover, an extra bottle of Algaecide 60 Plus can go a long way. It’s great for those of us with a lot of spring sun beating down on the cover. I like to add a quart of Poly 60+ to my 20K gallon pool when the weather begins to warm-up noticeably, or about a month before opening.


SeaKlear Free & Klear Clarifier

SeaKlear Free & Klear Clarifier is great because it thrives in cold water conditions which is important to note because not all pool chemicals are effective when the water temperatures get near freezing. It’s a 3-1 product that helps eliminate phosphates (algae food), acts as a clarifier, and helps prevent staining from organic oils and debris. It’s also natural, an enzyme-based product which is good for everyone but also safe to use with other harsher chemicals. The enzymes deteriorate non-living organic debris like leaves and oils that can cause staining as well as tiny particles that lead to cloudy water. Great helper chemical.

Pool Magic Spring & Fall

Pool Magic Spring & Fall is a great way to add enzymes to the pool with a blend of clarifiers and stain fighters, made with Natural Chemistry’s Smart-Zyme technology, designed specifically to work in cold water. 1 bottle or liter of Pool Magic Plus can treat a 25k pool. I recommend using half a few weeks after closing, and the other half a few weeks before opening. I just pour it right through the (mesh) pool cover and let it work its “magic’.

AquaPill – WinterPill

This little guy has received quite a bit of attention this year, with a video released last winter that went semi-viral. The wildly popular Aquapill WinterPill is packs a potent punch from its concoction of natural enzyme, algaecide and stain fighters. 1 WinterPill can treat up to 30k gallons of water. With a small pin puncture (pin actually included) it slowly releases its concentrated solution as it floats freely on the surface of your pool.

Di-Zap Multi-Shock

Di-Zap is a premium pool shock blend that combines Dichlor, Algaecide, and Stabilizer for a 3-in-1 formula that is safe for all surfaces. 1 bag treats 10k gallons. For pools that don’t use a winter cover, or for those that may have suffered a mid-winter cover disaster, Di-Zap makes an excellent treatment for the closed or semi-closed pool. Also can be used monthly during winter, to maintain a constant chlorine level all winter.

Super Stain Away

Super Stain Away can be used on all types of pools but it excels for concrete and plaster pools in the prevention of stains (metal and organic) as well as for pool calcium build up prevention. It can even help fade existing stains. A little goes a long way, 16 ounces is good enough for a 10K pool and you only need to add it once in the winter. If you choose to add it monthly or more only use 2 oz per 10k.

Jack’s Magic The Vinyl Liner Blue Stuff Stain Preventer

Similar to Super Stain away, Jack’s Magic Vinyl Liner Blue Stuff prevents stains, fights scaling, is particular great for water with high traces of metals but it is specially formulated to be gentle on vinyl liners. It also excels in water that has high levels of sanitizer. So, it won’t go to waste if you shock your pool and add some Jack’s Magic to it at the same time. No waiting. Besides being a rock star to protect vinyl, Jack’s Magic is also great for fiberglass pools.

Jumbo Chlorine Floater

Smaller chlorinators can go through all of their contents within a few months, even if the openings are shut tightly. Filling our Jumbo floating chlorinator with 5 lbs of chlorine tablets can make a big impact on how clean your pool is when you open it. I recommend tethering the floater to the edge of your pool (with enough slack to roam), so it won’t get stuck on a step, and for easy access to refill the floater.


Pool Maintenance is a year round job and while we don’t have to work quite as hard in the winter, a little mindful care to the pool water will save money and time. Once the weather warms-up, algae becomes more stubborn, there’s more pollen, there’s more rain, and there’s more excitement to get that pool open for the summer. Make things easier on yourself with these easily applied, potent winter pool chemicals.


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Chlorine Shelf Life: How Long Can I Store Pool Chemicals?

Dr. Pool of In The SwimWelcome back students of pool – today’s lecture is on chlorine shelf life, and more specifically, do pool chemicals expire, or do they lose efficacy over time?

In an ideal world, the pool season would end just as you use-up the last chlorine tablet, pour-in your last bags of pool shock, and perfectly adjust your water balance with the last scoops from the bucket.

However, one look inside of any pool owner’s chemical closet will tell you that leftover pool chemicals are the norm. So then, do pool chemicals go bad, and will they still work next season?

Shelf Life of Pool Chemicals

Liquid Chlorine

Sodium Hypochlorite, or chlorine bleach is a comparatively unstable form of chlorine, in that it can lose up to 50% potency within the first 6 months, and 90% within one year. If subjected to hot or cold temperatures or direct sunlight, degradation occurs more quickly. For a more stable product, see our Instant Liquid Chlorine in a bottle.

Tablet Chlorine

Trichlor tablets have the longest chlorine shelf life. We have lab tested our individually wrapped tablets for potency over time. At 36 months, InTheSwim tablets still have 98% of their original available chlorine, when stored in constant 50-70° F temps with a tightly closed bucket lid. In the right conditions, trichlor tablets can remain viable for over 5 years.

Granular Chlorine

Chlorine granules sold in bucketsCalcium Hypochlorite, aka pool shock or granular chlorine also has a long shelf life, if kept in an air tight container, in a cool and dry (indoor) location. Pool shock in 1 lb. bags absorb moisture from humid air, and bags can dissolve in 12-24 months (!). For longer term storage, re-pack into zip-loc freezer bags or buy Chlorine Granules, sold in buckets. Properly stored, pool shock has a shelf life of over 5 years.


Cyanuric acid, or chlorine stabilizer will maintain potency indefinitely, even if it absorbs moisture, as long as it is stored in a tightly closed container. Be sure to label cyanuric acid as Conditioner or Stabilizer, so the white powder won’t be confused with another chemical, if the container label fades or becomes unreadable.


When properly stored (cool and dry indoor location), pool algaecides are quite stable and most will maintain potency for at up to 5 years. Temperatures over 75° and direct sunlight will reduce algaecide shelf life, especially lower concentration algaecides (10% and 30% formulations), but freezing temperatures can ruin pool algaecide.


Similar to algaecides, pool clarifiers have a shelf life of up to 5 years, stored tightly closed in consistently cool temperatures, in a dark cabinet or container. Outdoor storage in a garage or shed with high temperatures can reduce effectiveness, and freezing can damage the polyamide structure, rendering clarifiers useless.

Stain & Scale

Most Stain & Scale chemicals, such as our Stain Away product have an indefinite shelf life, with the usual caveat – when closed tightly and stored in a cool, dry location (indoors). As with other liquid pool chemicals sold in bottles, the formulations are very stable, but high and low temperatures should be avoided to maintain product strength.

Alkalinity & Calcium Increaser

Sodium Bicarbonate and Calcium Carbonate are both dry white powder or flake chemicals, and both can remain viable and potent for over 5 years. As with other dry pool chemicals, shelf life can be extended with tightly closed lids to keep out moisture, which can cause clumping and hardening of your water balance chemicals.

pH Increaser

Sodium carbonate or soda ash (pH Increaser) can remain viable for over 5 years, when stored in an air-tight container, to lock out moisture. If stored outdoors, humid conditions can pull moisture into the bucket, clumping and hardening, but also converting sodium carbonate to sodium bicarbonate over time, slightly reducing effect on pH.

pH Decreaser

Sodium Bisulfate and muriatic acid could have a 5 year shelf life, however pH decreasers are acids, and a larger shelf life concern about pH decreasers is the strength of the container. Over time, thin plastic bottles or packaging can break down from contact with acids. So, although pH-Down chemicals last for years, you should probably use them up.

So then class, what have we learned today? 

Most pool chemicals have a shelf life of 3-5 years, when stored properly:

  1. Consistent and cool temperatures, in a dry and dark location.
  2. Tight bucket lids and bottle caps to lock out moisture and contaminants.
  3. Granular Chlorine can dissolve packaging, repack for long-term storage.
  4. Keep all pool chemicals out of reach of children.


Class Dismissed!


Dr. Pool





Happy 35th Birthday to InTheSwim!

In The Swim is celebrating 35 years of providing low cost pool supplies to the do it yourself pool owner – and we couldn’t have done it without YOU!

Back in 1982, our founders, a husband and wife team, were in the solar heating business, helping pool owners heat their cold Chicago-land pools. After being asked for the umpteenth time about where the best place to buy pool supplies was – they decided to expand their product line, to include chemicals, equipment and accessories. is now one of the largest online pool supply retailers, but 35 years ago, the world wide web did not exist – and orders were placed over the phone or by mail, through our pool supply catalog, which is still mailed to millions of homes each year.

Since our first 12-page catalog, we’ve expanded our residential catalog to over 50 pages, and also produced 60+ page catalogs for Commercial pool managers and Wholesale buyers.

As mail-order sales took off (in the days before the internet), our founders dabbled in other fun catalogs over the years, including a pool parts catalog, a hot tub catalog, and even a ski and snowboard catalog!

Intheswim website, 1999In 1997, things all changed – for the better, when came online. For an old catalog company from the 80’s, a website was just an electronic catalog, accessible to anyone with a (dial-up) internet connection!

At the time that the commercial internet was born, postage rates were going up, and the ability to put your catalog online, and edit products on-the-fly, were big advantages over printing millions of catalogs each year. It was thought to be the death of mail-order catalogs.

Only it wasn’t – and anyone with a mailbox can tell you that – over the last 30 years, catalog retailing has not only Not Died, but has become more ubiquitous than ever. And although it’s not so common anymore, we still get checks in the mail with the mail-order form attached. For most folks however, our catalog that comes in the mail is a useful reminder that it’s time to buy pool supplies, even if they order by phone or on our website.


Fast forward to 2017, hundreds of staffers fill our 100,000 sq ft warehouse, filled with thousands of pool products. Plus, we have 9 other warehouses around the country for faster shipments. And, we also stock tens of thousands of replacement pool equipment parts.

With free shipping and one day delivery on most items, you can be sure that your pool supplies will arrive when you need it. On time – Every time, is our motto.

In The Swim’s 24 hour ordering service allows you to place your order online or by phone at any time that’s convenient for you. And a 30-day money back guarantee that proves our commitment to meet and even surpass all of your expectations!

And the best part about working here? The laughter and support from people whom I’ve spent the last ten years with, and of course YOU, our valuable customers – who have rewarded our hard work with a steadfast loyalty that is simply amazing.

We couldn’t have done it without YOU.

35 years. Wow. Thank YOU, America!


Sabrina Potirala
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Dealing With Excessive Leaves In Your Pool

I Love to Skim my Pool. Part of me appreciates the subtle Zen-like qualities of walking around the perimeter of my pool collecting every visible scrap of debris visible to the naked eye, clearing the water and my mind. It’s me time.

If I’m in my pool, the leaf net is always close at hand. However, I have a tree that is actually in my front yard that manages to shed various pods, seedlings, and an array of leaves throughout the year that inevitably land in my pool. It can get excessive in the fall.

This is the time of year that most of us are dealing with heavy amounts of leaves in our pool area regardless if your pool is open or closed. I’ve collected a handful of my favorite anti-leaf tools to assist you in your own fight for a debris-free pool. Let’s jump in!

Leaf Bone – Leaf Net Skimmer Clip

Leaf Bone, skimmer net clipThe Leaf Bone Leaf Net Skimmer Clip is a $12 tool that falls into the It’s-So-Simple-It’s-Genius category of new additions to the pool maintenance world. This nifty Clip fits any 1.90” inground pool ladder handrail, installs in seconds, and can spare your pump the extra energy from decrease water flow from a leaf-clogged skimmer as well as save time from manually patrolling the pool with your leaf rake in hand.

Pool Cover Leaf Catchers

Pool Cover Leaf Catchers

If your pool has large trees nearby, leaves and sticks can create problems for pool covers. A simple, lightweight solution to leaves and debris is a leaf catcher. Leaf Catchers act as a protective net that rests over the top of your winter cover to collect all fall leaves. Super easy to remove, with a winter’s worth of leaves in tow. Inexpensive and available in a variety of sizes for both inground and above ground pools. Pool Leaf Covers protect your cover, and save you a lot of time and effort.

Leaf Gulper Garden Hose Vacuum

pool floor vacuum garden hose styleThe Leaf Gulper pool bottom cleaner connects to your telescoping pole like a vacuum head, but  instead of a vacuum hose it uses a garden hose. The water from your garden hose blows the leaves up into the net as you roll over the. The bottom has a soft thistle brush that is safe for concrete, fiberglass or vinyl liners. The Pool Blaster is the exact same premise only it functions via a battery powered fan that sucks up the leaves into the bag.

In-Line Leaf Strainers

Hayward Leaf CanistersHayward Leaf Canisters attach to your manual pool vacuum or suction pool cleaner with a short hose that connects to the skimmer. The basket or bag collects the leaves to prevent them from going through your pool plumbing (potentially clogging it). Stops leaves from collecting in your pump basket, so you don’t have to stop vacuuming to empty the pump or skimmer basket. Plus, large-capacity leaf strainer traps leaves and debris, avoiding a loss of suction from blocked baskets.

Skim It Pool Cleaner

Skim-It for pool skimmersThe Skim-It Pool Cleaner is another one of those brilliantly simple accessories that works for both inground and above ground pools at a cheap price that takes ZERO effort to install. The part that attaches to the inside of the pool skimmer is simple a tension spring—like a mini tension curtain rod. The Skim It extends the reach of your skimmer, trapping the debris so that the skimmer can coral it into the basket. I use a Skim-It on both of my pool skimmers.

24″ Soft Mesh Leaf Rake

Our 24” Pool Leaf Rake skims and scoops leaves, sticks, and larger debris with ease! This heavy-duty pool cleaning tool features a solid aluminum frame and handle with a plastic rim that’s beveled for pool floor cleaning. This leaf rake also features a rugged, lightweight, soft mesh fabric that makes it easier to pull through water so cleaning is faster, especially when full of debris. The special fabric  also makes it super easy to empty!

Pro Dual Cam Telepole

The Pro Dual Cam Pole features both an internal and external cam that makes extending, locking, and closing quick and easy. With two locks in place, inner poles will not slip. The Pro Pole is 30% thicker than standard poles, extends from 8-16’, and has a soft rubber grip and handle that’s super comfortable to hold. Best of all, the Pro has an EZ release system that makes interchanging tools like your leaf net, brush, or vacuum, easier than other poles and protects the pole end from damage.

Natural Chemistry Phosfree

Another hidden nuisance leaves can contribute to is algae. Leaves contain phosphates which are the food that spawns algae growth. Excessive leaves can ultimately result in excessive algae. Natural Chemistry’s PHOSfree is not an algaecide but more of a natural algae prevention solution. Just add the recommended dosage of PHOSfree to your pool with the filter running. Especially recommended for mesh covered pools, or any pool with algae problems from heavy organic loads.


I highly recommend all of these suggestions for any above ground or inground pool owner. I’ve found that I need to pursue other Zen outlets because I don’t spend as much time strolling around my pool ridding the water of leaves and debris. All of these simple devices and natural chemicals will save you time, effort and perhaps, most importantly… money!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


5 Above Ground Pool Winter Cover Tips

Winter Pool Covers take a beating every winter as they protect above ground pools from the nastiest of elements: rain, ice, snow and especially wind can take a toll on your pool if not winterized and covered correctly.

Aboveground winter covers in particular can cause lots of problems if not properly installed. Haphazardly placed covers are a sure-fire way to shorten the lifespan of the cover and possibly your pool.

To protect your cover and your pool… 5 aboveground pool winter cover tips.

ABG Pool Cover Tip #1: Pool Air Pillows

Above ground pool owners will be relieved to know that most of these tips involve very simple and affordable solutions, perfectly exemplified by Air Pillows. Winter cover air pillows are used to keep a solid ice sheet from forming on the surface of your pool water.

Air Pillows are placed in the center of the pool, with the pool cover pulled tight over the pillow to press it into the water. Pool Pillow Pal is a $10 accessory to hold the air pillow in the center of the pool. Tip: Inflate your air pillows in seconds with a Shop Vac.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #2: Beware the Wind

Wind is possibly an above ground pool cover’s worst enemy. Above ground covers can be trashed if winds gets under the edges and begins to whip and flap the cover.

Secure the winter cover cable tightly with the wench (included with all above ground winter pool covers). However, that’s not enough to stop strong wind. Some folks weigh down the cable, with milk jugs or use our Wall Bags, which is fine for moderate  winds.

The best options to keep out heavy winds are either Cover Seal (shown) or Cover Clips, both made for this purpose, with the added benefit of keeping your cover taut and smooth all winter.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #3: Mind the Water Level

It’s important to keep an eye on your pool’s water level. If it drops more than an inch, it can stress the cover and the pool. If the pool loses 6-12″ of water, with rain water pooling on top of the cover, it will damage the cover and possibly the pool. Fix leaks before closing, or add water under the cover if needed.

Also important to mind the water level on-top of of your winter cover. A small bit (1/4″-1/2″) of rain water is OK, but more than that could stress the cover, and 6-12″ of water will push pool water over the edges, lowering pool water (see above).

Pump regularly with a pool cover pump like our manual or automatic 350 GPH pump or the non-electric Cover Saver siphon pump (shown).

Pump the water a good distance, to avoid over-saturating ground near the pool,and be careful not to pump out pool water through holes in your winter cover! If the cover has small holes, place the pump far from holes, or use upside-down Frisbee as a pump base.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #4: Leaf it Alone

Leaves on the pool cover can get real messy, real fast. Trying to remove leaves and sticks with a skimmer net or pool brush is not very effective. Instead use a Pool Leaf Rake to scoop it off – much more effective, but not easy, definitely not fun, and sharp sticks could damage a pool cover.

If your pool has large trees within 50 ft. – take a look at our Leaf Nets for above ground pools. Place this over your pool cover when closing, and remove after all leaves have fallen. Two people can remove every leaf in seconds, and easily carry it away. That’s Fun! Super durable carbonized mesh can also be used spring and fall, to keep an open pool clean.

Winter Pool Cover Tip #5: Cover Checks

If you are like me, once you winterize, and you know you’ve done it right, you probably try not to think about your pool until the spring. I’ve learned that this is a huge mistake. Tending to your above ground pool is essentially a year round responsibility.

Final Tip: you can’t just set it and forget it. You will need to visit your pool cover regularly, not just for dewatering and dredging activities, but to tighten-up the cover to pull out slack, correct wind gaps, readjust the air pillow(s). It only take a few moments a couple of times a month to run a quick check. The money you save via damage control is worth the effort.

Of course, using those aforementioned products – Leaf Catcher, Pillow Pal, automatic cover pump and Cover Clips or Cover Seal, goes a long way towards an (almost) maintenance-free aboveground pool cover.

Now You’re Ready to Close the Pool!

These above ground pool covering tips are affordable, simple, and do not require a whole lot of your time – which makes them easy to neglect. As a pool owner, the cheapest, quickest path isn’t always (almost never) the best path.

An above ground pool winter cover is an investment that protects a much larger investment: your pool! Spend a few extra bucks for a good cover, and spend time to do things right, along with the right winter cover accessories, and you can avoid mid-winter cover disasters!


Ryan Dornan
InTheSwim Staff Blogger


Hiding Pool Equipment with Landscaping

Swimming pools are beautiful: sparkling blue water, and inviting pool decks can be just as aesthetically pleasing to look at as they are fun to swim in. Pool equipment, not so much.

PVC plumbing, pumps, filters and heaters are obvious necessities for all of us pool owners but any pool owner can attest that we would rather see the results of the equipment without the constant reminder of their presence.

I’ve tackled the topic of Pool Equipment Enclosures in a previous blog with a nuts and bolts approach to building walls around pool pump and filters. Today we approach hiding pool equipment with a greener approach: with Plants.

Landscaping Ideas to Hide Pool Equipment

There are a number of ways to use the landscape or enhance the landscape to hide pool equipment and redirect sound from noisy pool pumps. A combination of grading and planting can be used to block the view and the sound.

Hills & Valleys

One of the oldest landscaping tricks is to sculpt the land to make it more pleasing to the eye. Whether an entire dump truck full of fill dirt, or a few yards of topsoil, you can make a nice cerrito, or small hill to hide the pool equipment, and deflect pool pump noise.

Adding a berm or mound in front of the equipment won’t work for everyone, you need to have extra space, a big wheelbarrow and a strong back.

Shown here is a delivery of 5 yards of topsoil, but just 1 yard of topsoil can be used create a 3′ x 8′ berm about 12″ high, that can be planted with grasses or bushes.

Ornamental Grasses

Tall native grasses like Karl Reed Forester can be an affordable solution to hiding your pool equipment area. Many grow tall enough to thoroughly screen the largest of pool heaters, and they are relatively low maintenance.

Installing a low and tight fence, 2-3 ft high, between the grasses and the filter system, serves to separate the two, and also will reflect pump noise away from the house. Some of the best grasses for screening purposes are:

Maiden Grass – Miscanthus gracillimus

The most common of all the tall grasses. Maiden Grass has a narrow green leaf blade with a white stripe in the middle. Maiden can grow up to 5’ or 6’ tall and up to 5’ wide and each year that it grows back it grows a little bit bigger. It plumes in late September in a nice shade of maroon and then fades to silver.

Morning Light Grass Miscanthus sinensis

Maiden grasses little sister is Morning Light. If your space isn’t big enough for a robust grass like Maiden Grass, Morning Light is very similar only much smaller! They take a few years to come in, faster with water and fertilizer. Prune them back in the early spring to remove dead wood, and they’ll push out new shoots in place.

Plume Raven Grass – Saccharum ravennae

Plume Raven is similar to Pompas grass or Fountain grass, but is more hardy for colder winter climates. Plume Raven has a wider blade than Maiden and is a lighter shade of green but it grows much taller, up to 8’ tall in just a few years. Puts forth later summer growth, and can actually jump-up another 4’ when displaying its purple plumes in September.

Zebra Grass – Miscanthus zebrinus

The blades of Zebra Grass are wider than Maiden and noticeably a brighter shade of green. It can grow 5’ to 8’ tall and up to 6’  wide. It has a light pink plume appears in late August. It’s a bit floppier than the previously mentioned grasses but can add a unique accent. An alternative to Zebra Grass is Japanese Silver Grass. It’s much lighter in color but similar in size.

Other notable ornamental grasses are Switch Grass, Giant Miscathus, Ravenna Grass, and Giant Feather Grass. Most ornamental grasses are hardy for zones 5-9 (which is most of the US), and can be cut back and mulched-over for winter in northern zones 3-4.

Bushy Bushes

The big brother of grass, bushes are a step up from tall grasses and can serve as a much denser natural screen. Evergreen bushes work year round and many bushes offer the versatility of thriving in large planters giving you opportunities to flash your style. Ask at your local nursery, some bushes can get messy and produce debris that lands in your pool, and others can grow too big, too fast.

So there you have it America! If you want to soften the backyard, add bushy bushes and fluffy grasses to hide your pool equipment and reduce pump noise.

Just be sure to give lots of room for the plants to grow, without blocking sunlight and air flow to the equipment. Or if needed, grasses and bushes can be easily pruned, any time of year.



Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



What Happens If I Don’t Close My Pool?

If you have closed your pool already, then I say congratulations and sorry at the same time – congrats for getting it done already and sorry your summer is over. This blog post however, is not about crying for the season passed, but for folks out there with a pool, thinking they might leave their pool open for the winter.

You may want to close your pool before the weatherman gives frost warnings in your area – we’re about to show you what happens if you don’t close your pool and have even just occasional winter temperatures below the freezing mark.

Fair warning, it’s not pretty. Some of the images might make you break out in a cold sweat and give your wallet and bank account a case of the shivers. So . . .

Q: What happens if I don’t close my pool?
A: It falls apart.

There you have it in plain terms. Don’t believe me? I’m not trying to scare you, but there are a whole host of potential damage that could occur to pools – if the pumps aren’t running when temperatures dip below freezing. Let’s move on to specifics.


One of the most important things you do when closing a pool is ensuring the pool water level is below the your pool filter system intake along with getting all the water out of your pool equipment and pipes.

If there is any water left in the pipes of your pool plumbing, the water will freeze, and Physics 101 class tells us water expands when it freezes, up to 10%, and that’s enough to crack pipes, pumps, filters, heaters, skimmers, and other things – that are full of water.

If pool pipes or equipment is only half full of water for example, there may be enough space for the ice to expand into, maybe. But until you’ve done some winterization, your pool equipment and pipes are likely very full of water.

If you have an above ground pool with the pool filter system and plumbing above ground (like nearly all above ground pools), pipes and pumps can freeze up in less than an hour of minus 32 degrees. The same is true for inground pool equipment that is not running when temperatures are below freezing. As long as water is moving through all pipes and all equipment, nothing will freeze.

Water in underground pipes won’t freeze right away, it takes several days of below freezing temps before the soil freezes. I’ve been told that the frost goes into the ground about an inch per day, when temps remain below 32°, day and night, for long periods of time. Daytime warm-ups can thaw soils just as rapidly, however. As such, it can take a week or two of consecutive days below freezing, before (well-buried) pipes are in danger of freezing.


a pool pump leaks in many places after water inside it freezesThis is what a pool pump looks like when you turn it on after it was damaged by ice. At least PVC pipes and connectors are rather inexpensive and easy to replace. Depending on what type of pool pump you have, buying a new pump housing can cost several hundred dollars more than PVC pipe.

To winterize a pool pump (even if just for one night), remove the 2 plugs from the pump.


And don’t think your pool heater is stronger. Cast Iron and Polymer heater headers are usually the first thing to snap in a sudden freeze. And it’s fortunate that they do, which drains the heater and avoids much great damage.

To winterize a pool heater (even for just one night), remove the front and rear header drain plugs, and disconnect the pressure switch inside the heater. Blowing air through the heater is recommended, to remove all of the water.


Your pool filter tank can withstand enormous pressure, up to 50 psi in most cases, but that’s still no match for the power of expanding ice. In some cases, the tank itself will crack, or the clamp ring on cartridge or DE filters will crack in half, or the top mounted multiport valve flange will separate from the tank, or just start leaking, as shown here.

To winterize a pool filter (even just for one night), open the air bleeder and remove the filter drain cap or drain plug. If you have a multiport valve, turn the handle to a spot in between any two positions, and if you have a push-pull slide valve, place it mid-way between up and down positions.


For inground pools, that nasty spring opening surprise could be even worse because your pool pump and filter will start going, and then you’ll notice the equipment isn’t working right and wonder why. It’s because you can’t see the broken pipes that are leaking three feet under your concrete pool deck.

Replacing busted up pool plumbing is one thing, having to cut through your concrete pool deck and dig down several feet to fix the plumbing is quite another thing. Let’s not forget, if your pipes are freezing, there’s probably a real good chance your pool equipment is too.


If you have an above ground pool, there’s something unique that can happen if you don’t use an air pillow or don’t winterize the skimmer properly, they crumple like tin cans.

An above ground pool is designed to contain the water inside of it, but as an ice sheet thickens across the pool, it puts outward stress on the walls. When the ice sheet is also frozen inside the skimmer – any heaving, tilting or slipping of the ice sheet can wreak havoc on even the strongest aboveground pools. In this case, a water leak left no support for a 6″ thick ice sheet.

If you still want to keep the pool open, In The Swim carries the lifesaving Intermatic freeze sensor, compatible with with the PE153 Digital Timeclock. This allows you to pre-set a temperature for the pump to turn on, automatically (so you don’t have to).

Or, if you go ahead an winterize, don’t forget Air Pillows and Skimmer Plugs to protect your pool, and for inground pools, new winter pool plugs and pool cover supplies are in order. And every well-winterized pool can find a cheap insurance policy in pool anti-freeze.

If it’s too late to winterize, and if your pool equipment is already frozen, remove the drain plugs, throw heavy blankets or tarps over the equipment, and set-up a small space heater with plenty of ventilation, you don’t want it to catch on fire next!

For those of you on the fence, you should seriously consider going the pool closing route. Now is the time to do it, and if budget is an issue, In The Swim offers some nice winter covers along with pool winter kits at good prices, right now.


Larry Andersen
InTheSwim Staff Blogger