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The SRK Showroom Pool – Proof is in the Experience

If to see is to believe, then to experience is to understand. Only when you step into the waters of experience do you truly know what it is to be immersed in the perfect pool water experience. Only then can you fully know the complex feelings and presence of temperature, buoyancy, texture, current, clarity and cleanliness.

While that may sound rather philosophical, in the world of aquatic environments, i.e., swimming pools, the power of taking a dip is as tactile and literal as it gets. That’s why in 2015, I decided to build what I consider a perfect example of a swimming pool in my own backyard. After all, as my kids kept telling me, it only makes sense that I “experience the experience” I’m creating for others.

Naturally, I wanted a pool for all the same reasons as most anyone, to have a place to enjoy the water with family and friends, but there was more to it than that. I also needed a place where I could share the experience of owning a pool I created with potential clients, a personal showroom of sorts. Additionally, I wanted to use my pool as a working laboratory for testing and perfecting pool water-treatment technologies and heating systems.

More than anything, I wanted to demonstrate how different the aquatic experience can be when pools and pool systems are taken to the level of high craft and art – and it worked.

Now, when someone takes a swim in my pool, words are no longer necessary. It’s the difference between driving an economy car and a Ferrari. There are countless technical measures and design specifics that go into creating the best pool experience, volumes of science and engineering, but ultimately, it all comes down to the way sitting in the driver’s seat, or stepping into the water, makes you feel.

AN AQUATIC PROFILE OF POOL EXCELLENCE

My pool is 50 by 20 feet, rectangular, with vanishing edges on two sides. Our property is gently sloped and surrounded by forest, a perfect setting for this type of pool that takes advantage of the surroundings with reflections and the optics of the vanishing edge. It’s finished in a blended polished aggregate finish we call SRK Blue. A mix of black and blue, the material gives the water a deep, soothing and inviting appearance.

Although a rectangle, the pool is anything from simple. I design pools as a living space, thinking of the way it’s set up from an ergonomic perspective, everything has to have a flow and a purpose. That starts with the broad stadium steps that run the entire length of the pool, meaning the entire thing becomes a giant lounging area where everyone can enjoy the water at different steps from one end to another and enter or exit the water anywhere down the length of the pool. Thirty-six bench jets can be activated for a spa-like therapy experience.

As you move away from the steps, you enter the swim lane, which has a current system that can provide different flow rates for water walking or swimming against the current. In an unusual design twist, we turned the vanishing edge catch basin into a long lounging area, where you can sit beneath the sheeting water flowing over the edge. It’s 4 feet deep and 5 feet wide, so the catch basin is essentially a secondary pool, which is linked to the upper pool via a set of steps. Not surprisingly, the basin is a kid favorite.

Overall, this pool demonstrates how design can be used to create recreational and therapeutic opportunities, again, defining the experience.

Nowhere is that more evident than with the quality of the water. The treatment begins within the pool itself. The vanishing edges provide ultimate skimming action, the louvered automatic pool cover keeps the pool free of dirt and debris, and the distributed floor returns ensure even distribution of treated and heated water. Everything is on 3-inch plumbing to ensure efficiency, low flow rate but high turnover.

A BUNKER FOR PERFECT POOL WATER

In many ways, my equipment room is the beating heart of the pool. I call it a bunker because it’s located under the deck in a large 20-by-15-foot space that’s well-lit, ventilated and climate controlled. It’s quiet, I can keep it open year-round and it’s easily accessible. (A separate discussion for another blog, equipment rooms should always be given adequate space, and so often they are not.)

For me, I knew the bunker would have to function like a laboratory, so I arranged everything with the idea that components will be changed out from time to time as I try new pool products and technologies to perfect the best pool water in the world.

The pool water circulation is broken into three systems for the vanishing edge basin, main pool and the edge spillovers. Most of my primary circulation equipment is from Pentair, including three Triton sand filters (where I’m currently experimenting with activated glass media); variable-speed IntelliFlo pumps; and three XF 3-hp, variable-speed pumps powering the swim jets.

The pool water chemical treatment includes an ETS, high-flow, medium pressure UV system; a custom 50-gram ozone generator; and a sodium-hypochlorite chlorine feeder. I also have a new chemical controller that runs the chlorine feed on parts per million instead of oxidation-reduction potential (ORP). The system also includes a number of necessary components for the treatment systems, including a flash reactor, contact tank and static mixer.

Having my lab/showroom available, I’ve been able to fine-tune my approach to pool water treatment to where it’s truly “gourmet” water quality, and I’ve been able to bring clients into our home and give them a chance to “taste” the experience for themselves. So far, every single person who has experienced our pool has turned into a customer.

WATER, BLOGGED!

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A blog about all things water, written by SRK's founder Steve Kenny.