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Swimming Pools: Above Ground Pools

Updated on November 21, 2011

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.


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