Swim Spas from Watson's


Swim Spas Buying Guide

Questions? Want a free consultation?


As always, if you have questions regarding your swim spa purchase, we are happy to help. Fill in the form below to get in touch with a Watson’s expert for more information about our entire swim spa selection, installation process, and more.

Come see for yourself. Visit us in store and browse our selection in person. We have a variety of dry tubs you can sit in when you visit. You can even schedule a test soak so you can try a swim spa before you make a final decision. 



In 1980, a new, revolutionary concept in water-based fitness appeared. From that day on, the world of swimming pools, hot tubs, and spas would never be the same. 

And what was that revolutionary idea? 

The swim spa: best of both worlds


The swim spa is where the traditional swimming pool meets the home spa — a complete aquatic relaxation and fitness system, it’s both versatile and fun with incredible benefits: 

  • A soothing retreat to bring together your family and friends.

  • A relaxing hydromassage solution for stress and pain relief. 

  • A great place to stay active and in shape, designed for any fitness level. 

  • An economical and space-efficient alternative to full-size swimming pools with added features normal pools can’t match.

Most importantly, the swim spa is a place where you can unwind and truly feel your best! 

Shopping for a swim spa should be just as fun and exciting as using one. That’s why we created this buying guide to help you find the perfect swim spa for your unique needs and circumstances, and to make sure you get the very most out of it. 

We’ll cover:

  1. What is a swim spa?

  2. Why buy a swim spa?

  3. What options are available in swim spas?

  4. What do you need to consider before buying a swim spa?

  5. What’s involved in installing your new swim spa?

  6. How do you take care of your swim spa?

What is a swim spa?


A swim spa is a combination swimming pool and spa, smaller than a full-size swimming pool and larger than a standard hot tub. Allowing for size, they can be installed anywhere a standard hot tub can, so they can be used indoors or outside. Using powerful pumps, a swim spa creates a controllable current that allows you to swim in place; or, sit back and enjoy the relaxing benefits of hydromassage via dozens of powerful jets. 

This unique concept was invented and perfected by Catalina Spas, a company we’re proud to partner with to bring you a wide selection of products representing the most advanced aquatic fitness and hydrotherapy technology available today. 

Why buy a swim spa?


As we alluded to in the introduction, there are a number of powerful benefits that come with owning a swim spa. If you own both a swimming pool and a separate hot tub, you may be able to match the following list, but you’re facing more than double the expense — both in purchase and maintenance — not to mention the time you’ll invest in upkeep. With a swim spa, you can enjoy all of this with one economical purchase:

  • Swimming has long been acknowledged as one of the best whole-body workouts available, offering strength training, cardio, flexibility, and balance training in one power packed and fun exercise. 

  • Hydromassage offers clinically proven pain relief, soothes sore muscles, promotes healthy circulation, and limbers up stiff and aching limbs. 

  • Low-impact water exercises allow for high-value movements that are easy on weak limbs and arthritic joints, and are commonly used as part of a balanced physical therapy program. 

  • Stress-relief is proven to be vital for both body and mind. Few things calm the anxious soul like soaking in a luxurious swim spa with appropriate lights and music enhancing a relaxing environment. 

  • Cool water allows for greater exertion as it naturally cools the body and lets you focus energy on activity rather than cooling you down. 

  • Hot water relaxes the mind and body, improves circulation, and relieves pain and stiffness. 

  • Compact design saves space and allows for fitness and relaxation within the privacy of your own home or backyard, even on relatively small properties. 

  • Year-round convenience: The swim spa is all yours. Whether it’s inside or you take advantage of insulation and a Pro Fit cover for installation outside, you can use your swim spa any day of the year. (Consult with a Spa Pro for precautions regarding outdoor use during the winter.)

What options are available in swim spas?


Although all of the above and more is automatically included with every swim spa purchase, many of these benefits can be enhanced even further with the addition of optional accessories and special features. 

These can include a wide array of jet configurations, Bluetooth wireless technology, LED lights, water features, exercise equipment, entertainment systems, and more. Talk to one of our Spa Pros at your local Watson’s store to determine what’s available to customize your swim spa experience and truly make it your own.

Types of swim spas


Catalina Swim Spas come in two basic types, each of which are available in multiple configurations. 

Single-zone swim spas

Single-zone swim spas are designed with one main tub designed for both fitness activity and relaxation. The swim jets, which produce the current for swimming, are at one end of the tub, while ergonomic seating and hydromassage jets are situated at the other end. The water temperature can be raised and lowered as needed to facilitate your desired activity. 

Examples of single-zone swim spas available from Watson’s include: 

Malibu Swim Spa
Fitness Series - 12' Signature (S12)
The Fitness 200 series from Catalina Swim Spas provides the ultimate aquatic workout in the comfort of your own home.
Freestyle Swim Spa
Olympic Series - 14' Freestyle (C-406)
This top of the line swim spa combines luxury, aquatic fitness and hydrotherapy to take you to another place

Dual-zone swim spas

Dual-zone swim spas are generally a little larger than their single-zone counterparts, and sport a wall between the fitness pool and hot tub sections of the unit. This separation offers the added benefit of allowing you to maintain two different water temperatures simultaneously. So, if you want to workout in the pool, then immediately soak in the spa, you can. Or, if you want to soak in the hot tub while you watch your partner sweat it out in the pool, all the better.  

Examples of dual-zone swim spas available from Watson’s include: 

Dual Temp Swim Spa
Olympic Series - 18' Dual Temp (C-620)
Part of Catalina Swim Spa's Olympic Series, the 18' Dual Temp C-620 is built to deliver a premium swim spa experience.

Each Catalina Swim Spa has its own set of options for those little nuances that truly make it your own, such as the acrylic design, cover color, cabinet color, swim tile design, and more. Talk to one of our Spa Pros at your local Watson’s store to see what’s available on the swim spa you’ve chosen.

Special notes regarding Catalina Swim Spas


Ozone for cost-effective water purification

Rather than relying solely on chlorine or bromine — the two most common chemical sanitizers used in swimming pools and hot tubs, Catalina Swim Spas use the most energy-efficient ozone generator, from DEL Industries, in combination with the Mazzei Ozone Injector, the most effective ozone injector on the market. 

Ozone is “active oxygen,” a natural purifier. It’s created in nature by the combination of oxygen in the air and the ultraviolet rays of the sun or by the corona discharge of lightning. Ozone has a fresh, clean scent that you’ve probably noticed after a rainstorm. It’s also the most powerful oxidizer available today that can be used safely. Catalina Swim Spas use ozone as a water purifier rather than relying solely on traditional chemicals such as chlorine or bromine.

Why is ozone superior to chlorine and bromine? 

  1. Ozone does not have to be purchased or stored, so you don’t need to buy it regularly and “refill” your swim spa’s filter pump. It’s generated on site and automatically introduced into the water or air. 

  2. Unlike chlorine and bromine, ozone does not affect the pH balance of water, so you don’t need to worry as much about pH adjustments. 

  3. Ozone helps reduce total dissolved solids so the water does not need to be changed as often. 

  4. Because it is so effective at keeping the water clean, Ozone eliminates a lot of routine maintenance. 

  5. Ozone will not eliminate the need for chemicals, however it will greatly reduce the amount of chemicals required. 

100% filtration system

The 100% filtration system standard on all Catalina Swim Spas will keep your swim spa clean when combined with regular water maintenance. The easy-to-clean, front-loading filter and skimmer have been designed to trap dirt and oil while larger floating objects are caught by the leaf basket. All together, this adds up to total water filtration.

Energy efficiency

Catalina’s Patent HeatFlow Technology captures and recycles the heat from natural friction created when water passes through operating spa components. This process automatically increases water temperature up to three degrees every hour, or one degree every 20 minutes if your unit is in use or operating at high speed. This distinctive technology reduces your annual energy costs for the unit by up to 12 percent. 

Additionally, Catalina Swim Spas sport an insulation system similar to a Thermos bottle. That means your hot water stays hotter longer, while keeping your energy bills low.

Ergonomic and intuitive controls

The sophisticated control system integrated into every Catalina Swim Spa allows the user to monitor and control all spa functions, including water temperature and silent air venturis, while comfortably seated in the hydromassage seats. For a genuine therapy whirlpool massage, simply turn the dial and our unique whirlpool system will create the ideal relaxation. The same flow can be returned to high volume hydro jets, providing individual massage that is out of this world. 

The fitness pool controls are likewise conveniently arranged. And, if your swim spa is equipped with a stereo, the waterproof topside stereo control allows for easy access to control the stereo without getting out of the water.

An optional mobile app system for the iPhone allows you to control all functions from virtually anywhere. Looking forward to a hot soak after work? Open the app and start warming up the water when you’re leaving work! 

What do swim spas cost?


Just as there’s a wide spectrum of types, sizes, and options to choose from, there’s also a wide range of prices. While cost is certainly an important factor, we encourage you to view this purchase as an investment in a happier and healthier future. 

To make your purchase more practical, Watson’s offers financing options on all Catalina Swim Spas. And, as always, we guarantee the lowest price in the U.S. If you can find the same swim spa with the same options for less anywhere, we’ll match that price, guaranteed!

What do you need to consider before buying a swim spa?


Since this is a significant purchase, and you want to make sure it goes off without a hitch, some preparation is important before you can choose the best swim spa and arrange installation. 

Where will you put your new swim spa? 


One of the first things you should consider is where you’re going to place your swim spa. Will it be outdoors or indoors? Carefully look over your property or inside your home for the most ideal location. Below are a few key considerations while deciding on the best place to put your swim spa.  

  1. Swim spas must be placed on solid, level surface areas.

  2. Make sure your swim spa location allows access to power. (Note: Wire locations may vary according to the manufacturer of the GFCI breaker. Refer to manufacturer’s directions and consult a licensed electrician to ensure correct wire installation.)

  3. Consider access to running water and adequate drainage, as you will need to empty and refill your tub several times a year.

  4. To avoid electrical shock, keep the spa away from any electrical appliances (hairdryer, TV, radio, phone chargers, etc.) and outlets.

  5. Leave enough room on all sides of the tub to allow for maintenance work and cleaning.

Requirements and considerations if you’re putting your swim spa outdoors:

  1. Placing your swim spa on a concrete slab or wood deck is ideal. Concrete slabs should be at least 4 inches thick, and wood decks should be built according to local codes in order to support spa weight load, in addition to the weight of the spa’s occupants.

  2. When your electrician is installing the electrical outlet outdoors, it should be no closer than 10 feet and no farther than 15 feet from the spa.

  3. Ensure the thermal specifications of the tub can stand up to your climate year-round. For colder climates with sub-zero temperatures, the insulation design should be highly efficient. To get the most out of your swim spa in warmer climates, look for cooling technology or a system that works with your swim spa's heater to quickly and efficiently raise or lower the temperature as desired.

  4. Consider illuminating the area surrounding your tub for easy access at night.

Requirements and considerations if you’re putting your swim spa indoors:

  1. We recommend measuring your doorways, hallways, stairs, corners, or any other areas through which the swim spa will be carried when it is delivered.

  2. Keep in mind that indoor spas should be installed no closer than 5 feet and no farther than 10 feet from the wall switches or electrical outlets. Lights or ceiling fans must be at least 7 ½ feet above the swim spa or higher with GFCI protection.

  3. Ensure the room has proper ventilation to manage steam and moist air.

  4. The floor surrounding the tub should be water- and slip-resistant for any spillage that may occur while occupants enter and exit the spa.  

  5. Cement walls, glass enclosures, or water-resistant drywall are the best options for surrounding wall material.

If you have any additional questions regarding how to best plan for your new swim spa, a Spa Pro at your local Watson’s store is standing by, ready to assist.

Permits and regulations


Before you begin planning your dream swim spa, keep in mind that residential swimming pools may be regulated by the state, county, and city. So, depending on your location, there may be restrictions or laws put in place that you need to comply with. For example, you may be required to build a fence around your spa, obtain a building permit, or receive utility clearance before installation can begin.

Talk to your local zoning or building agency and/or homeowner’s association (HOA) about any potential zoning requirements, building regulations, easements, fees and official inspections required before selecting a site for your swim spa. A swimming pool permit may also be required.

If you or the agency issuing the permit need any product specifications or questions answered regarding installation, a Spa Pro at your local Watson’s store will be happy to help. And, if you’d like us to help with design consultation, we’re here for you too.

When you’re ready to go to the store


With those necessary items out of the way, you’re ready to visit your local Watson’s store to check out our swim spas in person. To make the most of your trip, review the following recommended tips and follow through on what applies to you:

  • Take photos of your backyard or interior spaces to show your dealer where and how you expect to have your new swim spa installed. 

  • Gather measurements of the areas you are considering. Use those to figure out and sketch potential yard design ideas. 

  • Call ahead to see if you can schedule a private “wet test” in a particular swim spa model (Plan to bring a swimsuit if this is possible.)

  • Help our pros help you by preparing answers to these important questions: 

    • Who will be using the hot tub? 

    • How many people will be using the hot tub at once? 

      • Are they very tall/short? 

      • Are they very young or have special needs? 

    • What will be the main uses of the swim spa? 

      • Fitness

      • Therapy

      • Relaxation 

      • Relief of joint pain 

      • Muscle pain relief 

      • Recovery 

      • Training 

      • Entertainment 

      • Family time 

      • Mental well-being 

      • Overall stress reduction 

      • Improve sleep

  • Take full advantage of your visit to make sure your new swim spa is perfect for you: 

    • Jets. At a minimum, test these with your hand, ideally during a wet test. 

      • How adjustable are they? 

      • Do they match up with high tension areas? 

      • What’s the massage variety? 

    • Seats. Get in the hot tub. Since they vary in size and depth considerably, make sure the seats are not too small or large. 

    • Sound. If possible, listen to the swim spa while all its jets are running. 

      • How loud is it? 

      • How does the waterfall sound? 

    • Maintenance. Work with the Spa Pro to go over basic maintenance activities.

      • Are the filters easily accessible? 

      • Is it easy to use the control panel? 

      • Is there easy access for routine maintenance? 

    • Remote monitoring and control. Some models work in tandem with mobile apps so you can control settings, schedule maintenance, and find personalized use and care content right from your smart device. 

    • Inspiration. Ask to view photos of prior installations — they’re a great source of ideas.

    • Getting ready. Discuss delivery and installation with your dealer and check availability. 

      • How soon can your hot tub be installed? 

      • Who should you contact for support?

With all these points covered and questions answered, there should be no doubt in your mind that you’ve chosen the very best swim spa for you, and that you’re ready to invest in your future. You can almost feel those relaxing, pulsing jets already!

What’s involved in installing your new swim spa?


As long as you’ve paid adequate attention to the previous section, the actual installation of your new swim spa is fairly straightforward. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: To ensure you will have an opportunity to use your spa soon after delivery, it is important the required electrical service has been installed and complete. Use only a qualified, licensed electrician for electrical hook up. Please note that this is the responsibility of the homeowner. Watson’s installation services will not include any electrical work beyond attaching your new swim spa’s electronics to the installed service. 

We will arrange delivery for a day and time that’s convenient for you. If any special arrangements have to be made to move your swim spa to its final position, discuss them with a Spa Pro ahead of time and make sure you have everything in order on your end. 

If you’re having your swim spa installed outdoors, and a concrete slab or adequate wood deck are unavailable, digging or leveling of the surface area may be required. Watson’s Spa Pros can help with this installation process. Just ask!

We are the authorized service agents for every swim spa we sell and are trained to best serve you and your investment. Find out more about our swim spa installation process by contacting us or visiting your local Watson’s store.

How do you take care of your swim spa?


Your swim spa purchase is a significant investment. We realize that. That’s why we want to make sure it gives you many years of faithful service by helping you understand what your swim spa needs as far as cleaning and routine maintenance. 

No matter what type of swim spa you choose, you will need to care for and maintain your tub regularly to ensure it stays in its best working condition. This will involve draining and refilling your tub every 4-6 months. You’ll also need specific chemicals to maintain your spa, and you’ll need to keep those chemicals in balance to keep the water clean and safe for soaking. 

When you choose a swim spa at Watson’s, one of our Spa Pros will walk you through what to expect for that particular model as far as chemicals and maintenance tasks you’ll need to handle to properly protect your purchase. If you have questions right now, they’re happy to help you too