Clearwater Spas: Right Angles

Clearwater Spas releases a plastic-framed swim spa

When Clearwater Spas in Woodinville, Washington, moved into the swim spa sector, its chief engineer had never designed or built a swim spa.

Wayne Bart had to learn about the spas’ function, and what people like and don’t like about them. He wasn’t even sure how much water one held, the size of its plumbing components or what a river jet was. But Bart climbed that steep learning curve and Clearwater’s Swim Spa 1200 was released July 1. “With a little bit of ingenuity, you can pretty much build whatever you need to,” Bart says, adding that dealer demand was a driving force in the decision to move into manufacturing swim spas: “We saw swim spas as a rapidly growing marketplace that we were not in. We had limitations in our facilities that kept us from thinking about it [until now].”

That meant expanding doorways as well as the vacuum former in the factory to accommodate the swim spas. The spa insulation spray booth was also made larger in order to handle a bigger shell. And a third line was added to the Clearwater shop. These expansions are functional — for now.

Clearwater is building a new factory that it will move into in April, says Brent Conver, CEO of Clearwater. It has more production floor space so it will be building a line specifically for the swim spa.

One of Bart’s goals for this swim spa was to use Acrylobond — a two-component polyurethane made by Isotec International. It is designed specifically as an environmentally friendly alternative to polyester resin/fiberglass that hot tubs and swim spas are typically sprayed with to give the acrylic rigidity.

“It just happened that our rep was here as I was getting closer to making [the swim spa prototype] and he asked if we were going to use Acrylobond to spray it,” Bart recalls. “When I said yes, his eyes got big.” The rep told him several spa companies have tried it, but none had been successful. Bart was determined: “We had to come up with some ways to build in our rigidity and make it work,” he says. “Now we’re very pleased with how stable it is.”

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Bart comes from the plastics and boat industries, which helped in the development of a swim spa that uses Acrylobond without fiberglass backing or a steel frame. The frame for the Swim Spa 1200 is plastic. “Plastic is lighter and you can do some cool stuff with it,” Conver says. “Wayne got creative and took what he learned with plastics to create the rigidity he needed — like a boat hull.”

Most swim spas have a long, straight side, which causes a loss of rigidity since there’s no shape. Clearwater’s swim spa design uses angles to create stability. Conver says Clearwater has developed some of its own processes to help create the rigidity within the shape itself. “We’re very excited to release a swim spa that is not backed by fiberglass,” he adds.

To conduct wet tests and make sure it worked well, Clearwater placed the first Swim Spa 1200 on the showroom floor of its headquarters. With frequent use, however, dirt was settling in the bottom of the spa. Bart came up with the Sweep Jet: It picks up dirt and debris from the bottom, pushes it to the back wall of the spa and into the water column, which feeds into the filters.

Overall, Conver says Clearwater is pleased with the product. He says it fills a niche between a regular hot tub and a pool at a size that fits into most backyards. “With swim jets at one end and two hydrotherapy seats at the other,” he says, “it appeals to families as well as athletes wanting exercise and recovery options in their home.”

Swim Spa 1200 additional features:

  • $19,995 MSRP
  • 10-year warranty on shell and floor system
  • 5-year warranty on plumbing and operating equipment
  • Seats 8
  • Measures 140 x 93 x 53 inches
  • 29 water jets, 2 river jets
  • Ozone/UV water purification system
  • 2 LED main lights, 6 LED rope waterfalls
  • Reflective Thermal Barrier insulation
  • Insulated DuraTech cabinetry with decorative light bar
  • Digital touchscreen controls
  • Optional features/add-ons: audio, water treatment, floor pad, lighting, cover lift and steps