best swim spas 2022

Can you put a swim spa in the ground?

The in-ground swimming pool has long been synonymous with backyard luxury and relaxation, tracing its popularity back to the 1950s. The image of crystal-clear blue water surrounded by comfortable loungers and perhaps a dining table has been a hallmark of suburban living. 

However, in recent years, homeowners have been rethinking the traditional in-ground pool and are exploring alternative options to create their own backyard oasis. Swim spas, with their space-conscious designs, are popular for their versatility, offering options for relaxation, exercise, and even swimming. 

But can a swim spa be installed in the ground? 

The answer is yes — definitely! Homeowners can now enjoy the benefits of a recessed swim spa, combining the aesthetics of an in-ground pool with the versatility of a swim spa. Whether you want to put a swim spa in the ground or compare lap pool alternatives, these considerations will help you throughout the process. 

can you put a swim spa in the ground

In-ground swim spa advantages

As homeowners continue to redefine their outdoor spaces, pool-spa combos like Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas are a versatile and space-efficient alternative to traditional in-ground pools. The ability to install swim spas in the ground offers a range of advantages for homeowners who want to create an outdoor oasis.

Maximize your backyard space

Most backyard swimming pools are 10 to 20 feet wide and 20 to 40 feet long. And that pool can take up a lot of valuable real estate depending on the size of your backyard. In comparison, Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas are 8 feet wide and are between 17 feet and 19 feet long — making it ideal for small backyards or homeowners who want to maintain some open outdoor space.

And putting a swim spa in the ground allows you to further maximize your outdoor space. An in-ground swim spa can be seamlessly integrated into the landscape, converting an unused area into a functional and aesthetically pleasing outdoor oasis.

Backyard design

When you choose to put your swim spa in the ground, the pool alternative often becomes the focal point of your backyard. The crystal clear water is inviting, drawing you into the backyard. Featuring LED lighting and waterfalls, swim spa features further enhance the appeal. 

An in-ground swim spa requires a built-in vault, and you can enhance the design with hardscaping features such as a composite deck, patio, or decorative paving. You can choose the materials and finishes that best complement your style and existing space.

Landscaping elements around the swim spa, such as flower beds, potted plants, or shrubs, soften the edges and integrate the pool into the natural environment. 


A Michael Phelps swim spa can help you create an outdoor oasis, where you can swim, exercise, and relax in the comfort of your backyard. And while it’s the perfect place to entertain family friends and, yes, neighbors, there are times when you just want to enjoy a solo swim or soak with the massage jets on. 

Putting your swim spa in the ground can offer increased privacy compared to above-ground alternatives. Surrounding the spa with fencing, plants, or privacy screens can provide you with the seclusion you desire, allowing for a more intimate and relaxing experience.

Year-round use

The traditional pool season is Memorial Day to Labor Day — that’s just a fraction of the year, especially when you consider the cost of a backyard swimming pool. Unlike a traditional pool, there is no swim spa season. There is a built-in heater that keeps the water at a comfortable temperature, and full foam insulation protects many of the components — even in the winter months. 

You can go for a swim on a brisk winter day or use the hydrotherapy jets on a warm summer night. This year-round accessibility ensures that your investment continues to deliver relaxation, exercise, and entertainment no matter the time of year.

can you put a swim spa in the ground

How to put a swim spa in the ground

A Michael Phelps swim spa can provide you with countless hours of relaxation, exercise, and entertainment. If you have decided to install a swim spa in the ground, it can be an exciting and rewarding project. However, it is important to properly plan and execute the installation process to ensure a successful outcome. 

Choose the right location

Location is undeniably important — whether you are buying a house or installing a swim spa. When choosing a location for your swim spa, you want it to be in a place that not only complements your backyard but is easily accessible. The closer the swim spa is to your patio doors, the more the water will draw you outside.

But there are other considerations, too. Sun exposure, mature trees, and privacy can also factor into where you want to put your swim spa. 

Sunlight isn’t just good for your mood; it can be great for maximizing your swim spa’s efficiency if you live in a cooler climate. But those sunshine states? A shady spot might be better to maintain your desired water temperature. Those mature trees nearby? Lovely, but they might drop leaves into your sanctuary, so choose your spot wisely. And let’s not forget about privacy – a swim spa tucked away in a quiet corner of your yard gives you that cozy, exclusive vibe.

swim spa vault

Vault and ground preparation

When it comes to setting up an in-ground swim spa, there’s more to plan than the fun stuff. You also have to prepare  the site. 

A recessed swim spa is installed in a concrete vault. Just as you would with an above-ground spa, the vault will need to be able to support the weight of the spa when filled with water. Reinforced concrete is ideal. 

But how big should the vault be? Obviously, it has to be big enough for the spa. However, you also want to make sure there is adequate space to access the equipment. 

Plans for the vault should also include drainage. Some homeowners choose a French drain system. Another option is a sump pump system that has a float switch near the equipment side. A proper drainage set-up will help prevent flooding in the swim spa vault and avoid damage to the equipment.

When you install your swim spa in the ground, you want to be able to access all sides of the swim spa. Master Spas recommends 3 feet of space surrounding the spa. This space allows you to open up the cabinet for periodic maintenance. 

Electrical considerations

For a safe and enjoyable experience, you want to feel confident that the swim spa electrical is properly wired. Inaccurate wiring can result in various issues, from tripped breakers to more serious complications. 

Michael Phelps swim spas require a dedicated GFCI breaker and either 100-amp or 130-amp service depending on the model. 

A licensed swim spa electrician can guide you through the hook up process. Not only will they have knowledge of the specific electrical requirements in your area, but they will also be familiar with the National Electric Code.

Michael phelps swim spa

Landscaping and creating a backyard oasis

Putting your swim spa in the ground can sometimes be the start to a bigger backyard project. And while the word project makes it seem like work, it’s often an opportunity to create a beautiful yet usable space. 

Consider incorporating easy-to-remove decking around the swim spa – not only does it seamlessly tie the area together, but it also provides convenient access to the equipment. To enhance comfort and relaxation, think about extending the decking or adding patio pavers around the swim spa, creating a welcoming space for both enjoyment and easy entry. 

You don’t want to forget the green touch – landscaping plays a crucial role in elevating the overall appeal and privacy of your swim spa area. Introduce plants, shrubs, or fencing to strike the perfect balance between beauty and seclusion. 

While installing a swim spa in the ground requires some planning and effort, the end result will undoubtedly be a fantastic addition to your home. 

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Install an all-season in-ground pool spa

Are you ready to invest in one of these top swim spas for 2024? A Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa is an all-season pool alternative that you can use not just this year but for many years to come. You can click here to learn about how you create a backyard oasis with a Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spa. Or, contact your local Master Spas retailer to learn more about swim spa ownership. Wondering how much a Michael Phelps swim spa costs? You can request a quote here