Concept

Established in 2006, our aim is to create Swimming Ponds, often referred to as Natural Swimming Pools and Natural Pools, that are set into beautiful, sustainable landscapes where wildlife can flourish and we can all reconnect with nature.

So What is a Swimming Pond?

In nature lakes, ponds and pools are kept clean by a combination of plants and micro-organisms including beneficial bacteria.

Organic waste matter is broken down by the action of these micro-organisms into substances that plants can absorb in the form of nutrients. It is this natural occurrence in nature that is fundamental to the swimming pond concept.

Swimming ponds are essentially made up of two merging zones, which together, make up an ecologically balanced and self cleaning pond. Each zone is roughly equal in size and referred to as the regeneration zone and swimming zone respectively. The shallow regeneration zone is a biological filter and is planted up with a wide range of aquatic plants. It is separated from the swimming zone by an internal wall which terminates around 20cm below the pond surface, thus allowing free movement of water between the two zones and ensures the swimming area is kept free of vegetation.

Despite the divide, one still feels surrounded and immersed in plants, while swimming in uninterrupted life enriched water.
As a point of clarification it is important to note the difference between a swimming pond and a natural swimming pool or natural pool. While they all use a biological filter to clean and clear the water, it is more usual to describe a pool which has been designed to look more conventional, with few or no plants, as a natural pool. Conversely, where a pool has been designed to achieve more of a naturalistic look, it is more comfortably referred to as a swimming pond or natural swimming pond.

Where Did it All Begin?

Swimming ponds were first introduced to the UK at the Hampton Court Flower Show in 2001.

Although a relatively new concept in this country, swimming ponds are well established on the continent, particularly in Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria and are regarded as an environmentally friendly alternative to the conventional swimming pool. Driven by awareness of the health benefits of bathing in natural spas, the first swimming pond was built in Austria in 1985.

Today, it is said that one in two new pools being built in Germany are in fact natural swimming ponds and to date a significant number of public swimming ponds have already been built. However, the huge success of swimming ponds is not only confined to Europe as word has spread around the world with many examples to be found in the US, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

The Inspiration

The swimming pond is wholly inspired by nature.

Anyone who has ever been swimming in a natural rock pool, lake or river on a hot summers day will not only speak of feelings of exhilaration, but also of a tremendous sense of calm and peace, which can best be described as almost spiritual.

Perhaps these feelings are brought about because our senses are highly stimulated in such a natural environment and swimming in fresh water can feel liberating and leaves the skin feeling soft – unlike the effects of a chlorinated pool.

Birdsong adds a further dimension to the experience and to see brightly coloured dragonflies and damselflies skimming the surface of the water is an absolute joy.

The aim of the swimming pond is to recreate these feelings of well-being by enriching our senses as we interact with the natural environment in our own garden. There is nothing more wonderful than jumping into the incredibly soft water in the height of the summer and being at peace with the world!

How Does it Work?

In place of chemicals, the aim of the regeneration zone is to utilize plants as a living filtration system, which absorbs nutrients to clear and purify the water and maintain a natural swimming environment.

The plants are rooted into a deep substrata of gravels and filtration medium of varying size that make up this biological filter. By planting the aquatic plants directly into the aggregates (without additional soil) they must draw their nutrients directly from the water.

A series of perforated pipes run through the bottom of the biological filter and water is drawn through them by means of a concealed suction pump. As the water passes by the aquatic plant roots, nutrients are absorbed in order for plant growth. In addition micro-organisms and beneficial bacteria break down any organic matter that enters the filtration bed.

The clear purified water is then re-circulated back into the bottom of the swimming zone and the cycle starts all over again. Any surface debris, such as leaves are removed by means of a skimmer, which is usually positioned to receive the prevailing wind.

Plant Selection

Aquatic plant choice is essential if a balanced environment is to be achieved and is based upon a number of factors.

These include a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients in large quantities, deliver high levels of oxygen to the water, be of benefit to wildlife and of course have aesthetic value. Aquatic plants fall into five main categories, namely: submerged plants which will oxygenate the water, floating plants, deep and shallow marginals and waterside plants.

It is important to cut and remove the plant mass as it dies back each Autumn. The reason for this is to avoid the plant material rotting down in the water and adding excess nutrients the following Spring. In order to achieve clear water nutrient levels need to be low.

Warm Water

The water level in the regeneration zone tends to be relatively shallow and similar to a rock pool on a beach will warm up quickly on a sunny day.

Since this water is then re-circulated into the swimming zone there is a natural warming effect in the main body of water. This means that a swimming pond will always be warmer than an unheated traditional swimming pool.

Dr. Christine Archer from Woodbridge, Suffolk commented: “The swimming pond is fantastic. We have been swimming almost every day and even just sitting by the water is a great pleasure, especially watching the great variety of beautiful dragonflies. The pond was lovely to swim in at 22C but has just reached 28C – amazing. I wish we had put in a swimming pond years ago.

The Four Seasons