Swimming Pools: Above Ground Pools

Swimming Pools - A History

Swimming pools have come a long way! Today's backyard above ground pool is the latest version of a tradition which goes back thousands of years.

The ancient Romans brought swimming pool sized public baths to the world long before even your upper-class villa had an indoor shower or tub. The idea probably developed from natural springs but the Romans developed it a whole lot further. One of the best examples are at Bath, England which date from around 60-70AD and developed from what had been a simple Celtic holy place to a full blown Roman Bath complete with a caldarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath).

Early Swimming Pool, Bath, England
Early Swimming Pool, Bath, England

Swimming Pools in Decline

The fall of Roman civilization saw swimming and bathing fall out of favour in Europe for almost 2000 years. But the practice continued elsewhere. Dramatic pools were common throughout Asia, and probably had as much a symbolic and religious significance as fun or hygiene.

Swimming pools didn't become popular in Britain again until the Victorian era. By 1837 there were six indoor pools including diving boards in London, England. The first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896 including swimming. Swimming was still somewhat hampered by the fashions of the era, lets face it swimming in miles of wet-wool doesn't sound that appealing in Britain's less than tropical climate. The invention of the era which did really take off was the Lido - but it found its place half a world away in Australia.

Swimming Pool Fashions: Victorian Times
Swimming Pool Fashions: Victorian Times

Seaside Swimming Pools

Lidos are the outdoor swimming pools, sometimes tidal which are still seen all around Australia and in other countries. Initially developed to provide easy access and modesty with the addition of bathing sheds they have become historic and well-loved part of Australia's history. In fact sheltered sea-water swimming pools are still developed in Australia in areas where stingers or sharks make swimming in the protected sea unwise at some times of the year.

Backyard Pools - Take Off Post-War

It was really the post-WW2 era which saw pools take off as a symbol for the rich and famous in the US particularly. Esther Williams glamorised swimming to a height it has never seen before, or since really. Long before synchronised swimming was the joke sport of the Olympics Esther made it hugely popular across the US and the world.

Above Ground Pools - Make Pools Affordable

The first private pools were expensive concrete pools only for the rich and famous. Modern technology has brought the backyard pool within far more people's reach. Many in-ground pools are still made often of fiberglass rather than the traditional concrete with vinyl linger.

Cheaper above ground (or on-ground) pool are an attractive option. They don't require the expensive earthworks required for an in-ground pool. They are much easier to manage in areas where the ground freezes over the winter. They can even be packed up and taken with you when you move house, or sold if the kids get too old for it.

Comments 18 comments

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

Great hub Lissie....my husband had heard about Endless Pools. They are an even more compact version of the above-ground pool, but you can also have them installed as an in-ground pool. Check them out. We have wanted to get one, but the price isn't within our budget just yet.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

I've heard and seen of the concept that you swim against a current - but I hadn't realised that they were available for above ground pools as well -that's quite impressive!

KCC Big Country profile image

KCC Big Country 7 years ago from Central Texas

I think I still prefer them in-ground though. They look a bit cheap above ground. My husband loves swimming and it's the perfect solution for a lap pool without having to build an olmypic sized pool.

Sally Dillon 7 years ago

Wow, interesting info on pools. I'm a landscape designer so let's not forget the importance of the landscape around your pool. A great landscape can make even an above ground pool look FANTASTIC, EXOTIC, and VERY INVITING! A non-existant or poor landscape can make even an awesome pool ho-hum. I think the two go hand-in-hand.

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

Swimming pool have really a very long history. It was there in the Indus valley civilization which is considered as one of the oldest civilization. It was known as the great bath.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

Oh completely agree Sally- well-designed backyard pools are of course a very popular item in Australia! In fact the house design itself is often built around the pool!

Packerpack - you are completely correct - I must admit I know less about the Indiac and Asian history of the pool

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

Never mind not everyone knows everything. The civilization dates back to BC era, it was in its mature period in 2600–1900 BC. Here is the link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Valley_Civiliza...

If you wanna more then I can share more with you.

honestway profile image

honestway 7 years ago from Spain

They're pretty popular here in southern Spain too and just like in Oz, new villas are often designed around the pool and terrace area for maximum sun!

Although the builders don't always get it right - I've been watching a new set of four duplex apartments go up on a piece of steep land locally and they put the pool in a narrow strip between the building on the east side and the high slope which curves around from the west to the southwest... where another house rises into the sky.

A real duh moment... the pool gets the sun for about two hours a day LMAO!!

Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

Funny - though Terry - though you have to watch it here - you really need some sort of shade for most of the summer - 40C in full sun is not so much fun! Extended patios and sun sails are pretty popular! You can actually get the concrete surround too hot to walk on as well- timber is better but not that common because of the things that eat it here!

Thanks for commenting

anitak profile image

anitak 7 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

The first pool I ever had was an above ground with beautiful deck that my father built (he ws a builder) and my daughter and him played in it together daily. It is my fondest memory and I will be forever grateful for that little above ground pool. To this day, I have a fondness still for those above ground rather than in-ground.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

nice story anitak - thanks for sharing!

Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 7 years ago from Northam Western Australia

lissie, another good hub, so you back from traveling around again is that right I am six months into trip so another six to go. good hubbing cheers.

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C. C. Riter 7 years ago

Very informative hub. Above ground pools are best in my area because of our winters. I've had two and it's a lot of work. My wife wants me to put one in here for her but I have been against it and still refuse to. i think I am going to lose tho' because two of our dear friends and neighbors have joined forces with her to persuade me into it. Oh my. thanks for a good read

Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 7 years ago

Lidos in the UK are a great place to get a tan and watch people swim twenty yards before jumping out and shivering like crazy. Then for two weeks- usually in July- the sun comes out and the water is so full you can hardly squeeze in, even if you've covered yourself from head to toe in sun cream. I don't know if it was pure masochism that drove Victorians into the water or the glory of those two weeks.

Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

LOL Will lovely image - I guess its a little cooler than the sea in Perth WA in April - where I am still swimming!

Karen Reader 7 years ago

I'm a wimp compared to them. Personally I don't swim in water that's colder than 85 degrees!

What's News 6 years ago

I like pool water to be really warm. Even when it's really hot outside I still like my pool water to be at a high temp. It's just better to swim in a warm pool.

StephenSMcmillan profile image

StephenSMcmillan 5 years ago

Great hub! Thanks for imparting the history of swimming pools. It is such a great knowledge especially for me.

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