A Brief History of Swimming Pools

Written By Timothy Te

15th March 2021

Swimming pools have been around for untold number of centuries with one of the earliest pools dating back to over 5000 years ago in a Pakistani settlement with a capacity of about 200,000L (yeah, we can only imagine how difficult that was to maintain). This site is referred to as The Great Baths of Mohenjodaro. Fast forward a couple of thousand years and probably the most popular vision that people have about ancient swimming pools are those of the pools that the ancient Greeks and Romans used. In fact, these early pools even had heating by the use of furnaces in basements underneath the pools, much like giant cauldrons.

From Public Pools to Private Pools

In the past, due to the difficulty and cost involved to maintain a swimming pool, it was only limited to the ultra-rich or as a public gathering place. If we backtrack a little bit, in the 1800s there were quite a few indoor pools built around the world to serve as venues for swimming competitions, but they were rarely used due to the massive costs in water and filtration needed to keep these swimming pools free of disease-causing pathogens.

In the late 1800s, people became more concerned about these large bodies of water being a haven for disease-causing pathogens, and they were right. Obviously the method they used to keep their pools clean (drain and refill) wasn’t efficient which limited the growth of the swimming pool industry. It wasn’t until 1910 when Brown University started to experiment with using chlorine to sanitise their swimming pool that home pools started to get traction.

Chlorine, The Catalyst for Home Swimming Pools

Once it was determined that chlorine was indeed effective in sanitising pool water, home pools started to gain popularity since draining the pool and excessive water use was no longer needed to have a crystal clear pool and more and more people wanted to bathe in the privacy of their own homes. Not to mention the fact that it was worlds safer to bathe in a pool with family members than it was to bathe in a public pool with hundreds of strangers.

And the Swimming Pool Innovations keep on coming

Once a market was established for home swimming pools, this pushed innovators to create improvements for swimming pools that make home pool ownership a much more pleasurable experience. Some of the real notable innovations were the development of the skimmer system in the 1950s, which is still being used to this day. Cartridge filters and sand filters as we know them today took a while before reaching their current state and passed through many different iterations before finally reaching the point that they are at today.

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Probably one of the most notable innovations in pool technology was the discovery and development of salt water chlorination systems. Salt water chlorination made its debut in New Zealand with the Aquatech IG4500, the first-ever commercially available salt water chlorination system. This allowed people to have a sanitised pool without having to handle or dose their swimming pool with chlorine on a regular basis. The technology has basically remained the same since this early release, but today, we’re seeing a lot of innovations built around the basic technology like pool pump integration, timers, power levels, TDS monitoring and so on.

The Modern Swimming Pool

If you think that your pool maintenance tasks were tough, think about way back when people had to totally drain their pool, refill it without the commercial water pressure that we had, heating the pool using wood-fired cauldrons in basements and not knowing what sorts of pathogens are being introduced by hundreds of strangers sharing the pool with you

The advent of Automatic Pool Cleaners

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While automatic pool cleaners were invented as early as the 1910s, it really wasn’t until mass production and improvements in home filtration and pumping systems that they started gaining popularity. Much like salt water chlorination, the basic idea has remained unchanged and only tiny improvements have been added to automatic pool cleaners since then.

One of the major leaps in pool cleaners has been the invention of robotic pool cleaners. Unlike suction pool cleaners or pressure side pool cleaners that just randomly jump around your pool (and sometimes getting stuck depending on the topography), robotic pool cleaners can actually ensure that every bit of your pool’s surface is cleaned due to their built-in navigational computers. Robotic pool cleaners are also stand-alone units that do not depend on your pool’s pumping or filtration system to properly clean your pool.

The Future of Swimming Pools in Australia

Our knowledge and technology when it comes to clean and safe swimming pools have reached the point where with a little bit of effort and the proper tools, we can ensure that our pools are clear and safe for everyone that's using it. Does this mean that we've reached a point where buying newer pool equipment is no longer needed? Absolutely not.

While the technology surrounding our swimming pool are already rock solid, the innovations that are coming our are focused on efficiency. There are three classes of "new" pool equipment. Those that are cheaper simply because current technology allows them to be produced and sold at a much lower rate, those that are expensive since they will allow you to actually save more money on your bills down the line, and technology enhancements that take all of the effort our of pool maintenance through automation.

All of these innovations have shifted the focus of maintenance from safety, into economy and ease of maintenance. Ease of maintenance guarantees that our pools stay safe with minimal effort and interaction. Now is this a good thing? Again, this is something that's different for each person/family owning a pool. It's a balance between cost vs time spent which is different for each family. If spending a few hours a week or a day seems like a good use of time, then many pool automation systems are basically just redundant costs. But if you're the type of person where every hour is counted and all you want to relax in your pool without spending too much time doing maintenance then serious thought can be put into home pool automation systems.

More Resources on Pool Technology

Want to know more about the current advances in pool technology? We've written quite a bit about new pool technologies that are currently available on the market, their advantages, disadvantages, and if they're good buys nowadays.

Do you have any questions about this topic or the featured products? No worries, we're here to help! Drop us a question down below and we'll get back to you ASAP.

Happy swimming :)

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Written By

Timothy Te

Pool Guru at Mr Pool Man

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