Mastering Swimming Techniques in Compact Pools

May 17, 2024

Many Australians have learned to swim in backyard family pools. As Australia’s housing profile changes and backyard space becomes limited, people need new ways to enjoy the beloved backyard pool. Fortunately, plenty of compact pool options are available, and many are still suitable for practising your swimming. Let’s take a look at the world of swimming in smaller pools.


Different types of compact pools

Several different types of swimming pools are available in multiple sizes, shapes, materials and even for specific purposes. Compact pools are typically smaller than the large residential pools you’d find on a large property. Many people enjoy having a pool in their backyard, even if they don’t have a lot of space. Plus, with some pool design ingenuity, you can do a lot with a seemingly limited amount of space.

 Below are some of the more common types of compact pools you might find in homes across Australia.


Plunge pools

A plunge pool gives you all of the relaxation benefits of a swimming pool, but in a smaller package. Usually, plunge pools range from 2 metres to 7 metres in length. The smaller versions are certainly more for relaxation purposes, and there may not even be room for a swimming stroke. However, with lengths up to 7 metres, many plunge pools are suitable for some light swimming.

 If you’re learning to swim, regardless of your age, plunge pools can offer a safe place to master some new breathing techniques and practice your strokes.


Lap pools

Unlike plunge pools, which can be adapted to suit swimming lessons but are primarily for relaxation, lap pools are purpose-built for honing your technique. Lap pools are much longer than they are wide, giving you a swimming lane in your backyard. While you can design a lap pool in any way your property allows, they are typically long and rectangular but with enough room to comfortably move around from side to side.

 Lap pools also offer great design flexibility, especially if you want something more elaborate, like an L-shape, or running a portion of the pool under another structure. But without a doubt, lap pools are the perfect compact pool to master all swimming strokes in. The lack of width is a blessing here, as it encourages swimmers to keep a straight course while learning.


Small family pools

Alternatively, you can just buy a smaller-sized family pool. This doesn’t limit you in any way because you can get family pools in fibreglass, concrete, freestanding or in-ground, and in a range of colours and designs. Most residential family pools that are considered ‘small’ are still perfectly suited for swimming some laps.

 Potential downsides are also positives here because the lack of lap length means more frequent turns, encouraging new swimmers to learn correct breathing and turning techniques.


The benefits of learning to swim in a compact pool

The term ‘compact’ or ‘small’ sometimes has a negative connotation, especially when it comes to swimming pools. But as the old saying goes, good things come in small packages. Compact pools require far less maintenance and are more cost-effective to run. They usually cost less to install, and they can be adapted to suit your unique property.

 Even when it comes to mastering your swimming techniques, there are plenty of advantages to learning in a smaller pool rather than the local Olympic-size option.



Some people are self-conscious about being unable to swim or having a slightly awkward technique. Many folks simply don’t like swimming in crowded places, and they can have a variety of reasons for that. Practising in a smaller backyard pool is preferable for a lot of people because it gives them a greater level of privacy. You’re in your own backyard, everything you need is right there, and you can take steps to shield the pool area from any neighbourhood eyes.



Sadly, people can drown in even a small amount of water, so it’s not true to say that smaller pools eliminate any risk. However, the reduced depth of a small pool certainly does reduce the likelihood of accidents. For those who don’t feel confident in deep water, there is also a much greater sense of safety in practising their strokes in a small pool.

 We’ll offer some safety tips later on, but it’s worth mentioning that you may need to take additional safety steps to ensure injuries don’t occur due to the smaller pool size, too.


A greater focus on technique

When you practise swimming in a large pool, the emphasis is always on making it to the other end. Usually, as quickly as possible. But no matter how old you are, a focus on technique while learning to swim is essential. In a smaller pool with fewer distractions, you can focus on your stroke technique rather than how fast you reach the other end.

 Another reason learners struggle to maintain a focus on technique is because they get tired. For new swimmers, even a 25-metre lap is daunting, and the technique often falls apart with each passing metre as the learner tries to maintain composure. Without these pressures, you can hone in on every aspect of your technique.


More frequent practice

The other benefit to swimming in your own backyard pool, even if it’s a smaller one, is that you can do it whenever you like. No need to worry about transport, pool opening times, lane availability or anything else. Just step out the back door and into your compact pool! With more frequent practice, you should also notice improvements even quicker.


Tips for mastering swimming techniques in a compact pool

Whether you’re learning to swim for the first time or you just want to improve your stroke technique, these tips will help you get the most out of your compact pool.


Use swim jets

This first tip might not be for everybody because there’s a cost involved. But if you’re serious about using your compact pool for swimming, installing swim jets is a great option. Your pool still needs a certain length for swim jets to be effective, but most can accommodate them easily enough. Swim jets are basically just powerful jets at one end of the pool. As you swim into the resulting current, it provides resistance. Some people call this an ‘endless pool’ because you can keep swimming without moving forward.

 In addition to being a practical way to turn a small pool into an endless lap pool, swim jets also highlight technical flaws, so if you’re really keen on mastering a stroke, swim jets give you plenty of immediate feedback.


Maximise your session

When you’re limited for space, you need to get creative to get the most out of your swimming session. If fitness is your goal, try to use interval training to swim at a higher intensity for shorter periods. You could even use resistance bands or other swimming aids as part of your routine. On the contrary, if you’re more concerned with refining your technique, emphasise slow, careful movements more. In time, your body’s muscle memory will remember this correct technique.


Adjust strokes accordingly for space

While this might not please those who want to improve their swim stroke technique, it’s sometimes necessary to adjust how you swim for your environment. In a compact swimming pool, you might need to adapt some strokes to avoid arms hitting the walls or a similar injury. Alternatively, some strokes might need to disappear from your repertoire altogether. For example, strokes that use your entire arm span, such as butterfly or breaststroke, might be difficult in a small space.


Use swimming aids

There are numerous swimming aids available for people of all ages and skill levels. From floaties for toddlers to kickboards and hand paddles for older learners, there is a lot to choose from. All swimming aids have a specific purpose, so choose the ones that suit your goals. Kickboards are great for learners, but they’re also terrific for adults focusing on building leg strength. Hand paddles can give your strokes a little more power while you’re learning. Plus, since you’re swimming in a reasonably small space, you can even film yourself swimming to analyse your technique and make changes.


Take necessary safety precautions

Finally, but most importantly, you must take all the safety precautions necessary for your environment when swimming in a compact pool. As we’ve touched on, flailing arms can be injured on pool edges, heads can be bumped on walls, and other risks associated with being in the water. If you think bumps and knocks might be common, ask your pool designer or builder to consider rounded edges. If you identify serious problem areas, you may even need to pad them with a softer material. Whatever you need to do in order to enjoy your swimming safely, make it a priority.


Considering a compact pool for your home?

Whether you’re restricted by available space or simply prefer smaller pools, Blue Haven is here to help. Our stunning pool designs can be adapted to any space, no matter the size or shape. That’s because we don’t just sell pre-made pools. We also design and build from scratch according to your specifications. So, if you’re keen to have a lap pool, plunge pool or small family pool in your backyard, contact the friendly team at Blue Haven today. 

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