Swim Spa vs. Hot Tub
Written by Kimberly Giraldo
Updated over a week ago

If you’re looking to upgrade your backyard into a soaking oasis, there are many options to choose from such as a swimming pool, a swim spa or a hot tub. While each of these has their own distinct features and aspects, you may be confused about the terminology. What is the difference between a swimming pool and a hot tub? What is the difference between a swim spa versus hot tub? Here we’ll compare the differences between a swim spa versus hot tub to help you make the most informed decision for you and your family’s needs.

What is a swim spa?

First, it’s important to answer the question, “What is a swim spa?” Just as it sounds, a swim spa is a combination of a swimming pool and a spa or hot tub. Larger than a traditional hot tub, a swim spa is somewhat like an elongated version of a spa, with jetted seating around the perimeter with a central in-place swim area in the center.

What are the features of a swim spa?

A swim spa is designed for in-place swimming and big enough to enjoy time with family and friends. Swim spas are also equipped with swim jets that you swim against for a challenging water workout, as well as hydrotherapy jets for refreshing and relaxing recovery after your aquatic fitness training. Typically, you can customize the resistance of the jets you swim against based on your ability and how rigorous you want your workout to be. There are options to aid in or advance your water workout in many swim spas such as a tether, speed adjustments, fitness kits and more.

In essence, a swim spa combines the best of a swimming pool and a hot tub in one space-saving model. As with space, swim spas are also efficient in usage. Thanks to temperature controls, they can be used year-round. Swim spas can also be equipped with technology to help you manage and monitor your usage, whether swimming, soaking, or socializing. Like a hot tub, swim spas offer multiple seating options and configurations, and are available in a variety of sizes and styles.

What is a hot tub?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of a swim spa, we’ll discuss the key points of a hot tub. Most people don’t have to ask “what is a hot tub?” since they have been available to the public a lot longer than swim spas, which hit mainstream markets around 2010. A hot tub is designed for soaking, socializing and targeted hydrotherapy. Jets are placed throughout the basin to soothe muscle tension and relieve body pain from your neck, shoulders and back to your legs and feet. As with our overview of the swim spa above, we’ll review some main features of a hot tub.

What are the features of a hot tub?

Hot tub features vary by brand and model, but hot tubs from premium brands are typically equipped with quite a few standard features plus optional upgraded features to enhance your hydromassage experience. Hot tubs come in various sizes and shapes and offer a variety of seating options including open, lounge and cool down seating. An open seating configuration allows more people in the hot tub at one time and is preferred for socializing since hot tub users can look at one another and converse as they soak.

The configuration of a lounge seat allows you to recline back while experiencing a full-body massage. However, a hot tub with a lounge seat may limit the number of users that can enjoy your hot tub at any given time, as a lounger takes up more space in the hot tub, so this option is more conducive to a solo spa experience or couples time. A cool down seat is another seating option available in certain hot tub models. A cool down seat provides users with an opportunity to slowly transition between the elements and their hot tub soak. It sits higher up than the other seats in the hot tub, so it is also ideal for smaller children.

While a swim spa is more compact in size in comparison to a swimming pool, a hot tub is ideal for more intimate spaces such as a patio or cozy backyard. Hot tubs come in many sizes and configurations. Features range based on the brand and model. However, premium brand hot tubs will likely offer features such as standard water care systems, insulation, interior and exterior lighting, easy-to-use controls, and more. Many upgraded options can also be added including premium water care systems, smart technology to help manage and monitor usage and maintenance, and other features to complement the entire experience.

Swim spa v. hot tub?

Ultimately, the choice is yours. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It comes down to personal preference as well as your lifestyle, budget, allotted space, and other factors that you’ll want to determine prior to your purchase. The best thing to do before making your final decision is to visit a local hot tub dealer showroom so you can see, touch, and feel the many options available to you, whether it be a swim spa or a hot tub.

Affiliations: Jacuzzi® is a registered trademark of Jacuzzi Group. All rights reserved.

Medical disclaimer: This information is not intended to prescribe a particular diagnosis or course of action. We are not medical professionals. Please contact your GP or other medical professional for advice if you have any concerns about your current health or well-being.

Did this answer your question?