Average Swimming Pool Sizes and How to Choose The Right Size For You

Written by Michael Dean
August 16, 2023

dimensions of a swimming pool

If you plan to install a swimming pool in your backyard, there are plenty of things to factor in before you can splash in the water. One of the most important things to consider is the size of the swimming pool.

In this article, I’ll take you through the critical determining factors for what pool size will work best for you.

Main Takeaways

  • The size of your pool will depend on your budget and preferences.
  • You should also consider patio size when choosing the right swimming pool size.
  • Other considerations include: how often and how many people will be using the pool and what you will be using your pool for.

Standard Pool Sizes

Olympic-Size Pool Dimensions

standard olympic size swimming pool

Olympic-size pools are by far the largest. So large that even large houses with huge backyards would rarely have the space to host an Olympic-size swimming pool.

According to official regulations by FINA (World Aquatics), Olympic-size swimming pools are 164 feet long (50 meters), 82 feet wide (25 meters), and 7-10 feet deep. That is over 500,000 gallons of water!

Standard Lap Pool Dimensions

common lap pool sizes

Standard lap pools are long and narrow, designed explicitly for people to swim laps. They can come in a few different sizes, but the most common dimensions are:

  • 8 feet wide by 40 feet long
  • 10 feet wide by 80 feet long
  • 10 feet wide by 40 feet long
  • 10 feet wide by 60 feet long
  • 8 feet wide by 50 feet long
  • 6 feet wide by 30 feet long
  • 6 feet wide by 40 feet long
  • 6 feet wide by 50 feet long

Common Freeform Pool Dimensions

Freeform pools come in all sizes and shapes, but generally, they all have rounded edges. There is not a standard size chart for freeform pools, but the most common sizes are as follows:

  • 16 feet wide by 30 feet long
  • 15 feet wide by 35 feet long
  • 18 feet wide by 40 feet long
  • 12 feet wide by 30 feet long
  • 12 feet wide by 27 feet long

Common Fiberglass Pool Sizes

Fiberglass pools come in a few sizes and can be customized for special orders. The standard fiberglass pool will be 10 feet wide by 20 feet long. However, you will find pools as small as 8 feet wide by 15 feet long or as big as 16 feet wide by 40 feet long.

Common Plunge Pool Dimensions

common plunge pool sizes

Plunge pools are smaller pools made for leisure rather than exercise. They are perfect for smaller yards or if you do not wish to use a lot of your yard for the pool area.

Here are the standard dimensions of a plunge pool:

  • 6 feet wide by 10 feet long
  • 6 feet wide by 15 feet long
  • 8 feet wide by 12 feet long
  • 8 feet wide by 15 feet long
  • 8 feet wide by 20 feet long

Standard Above Ground Pool Dimensions

Because above ground pools need more support on the edges of the liner, there is less freedom in the shape and size of the pool. Although above ground pools are generally circular, there are still different options for the dimensions of the pool.

  • 12 feet in diameter
  • 15 feet in diameter
  • 18 feet in diameter
  • 21 feet in diameter
  • 24 feet in diameter
  • 27 feet in diameter
  • 30 feet in diameter

How to Choose the Right Swimming Pool Size: Questions to Ask

How Much Are You Planning to Spend?

Perhaps the most significant limiting fact to the size of the pool you can build is your budget. You can only build a pool as big as you can pay for (or finance, as often happens). Large inground pools can be costly, usually costing between $50,000 and $100,000. On the other hand, small above ground pools can be as cheap as a few hundred dollars. So, there’s quite a range to consider.

There’s a lot of variation in people’s preferences that impact how your pool budget will end up being spent. If you’d like to have a big pool on a tight budget, consider going with an above ground pool. Some people are more concerned with the pool’s look than how big it is, so they might go for a smaller pool with luxurious accouterments.

When you’re thinking about what you can afford, don’t forget to consider the additional costs associated with building a pool. In addition to the upfront costs like building a deck that surrounds the pool and upgrading your outdoor furniture, there’s also the matter of routine maintenance costs. The bigger your pool, the more you’ll spend on cleaning chemicals like chlorine and re-tiling.

What Are the Size Restraints Around Your House and Property Line?

If your budget isn’t what limits the size of the pool you can build, then the size of your property will form the upper limit of how big your pool can be. You can only build a pool as big as your yard can hold.

In general, you don’t even really want to go all the way to the edge of your property line. Issues like overflow from the pool and splashing can cause conflict between neighbors. It’s best to give at least four or five feet of distance from the property line.

Similarly, you will want to leave a bit of space between your house and your pool. Constantly having water around outside walls and the foundations of your home can cause serious problems. A professional contractor can advise you on complicated matters like these best.

Need Help Building Your Pool?

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How Much Patio Space Do You Want?

Having a pool isn’t all about swimming. People often tell me half the fun of having a pool is sitting beside it. That’s why you should think about your patio space as well. There’s a trade-off between the size of a pool and the patio space surrounding it. The bigger one is, the smaller the other will be.

If you love to barbecue as much as you love to swim, you’ll want plenty of space for your grill. You wouldn’t want to worry about stepping back and falling in your pool due to confined spaces.

Sketching out a model of your backyard is never a bad idea. Draw your property and house to scale, and figure out where the pool should go, how big it should be, and what the patio space will be used for. You don’t want to start thinking about these things after your new pool is already in the ground.

Who Will Be Using the Pool and How Often?

To determine the size of the pool, figure out how many people may be using the pool at one time and how much space should be available in the water.

Those with big families or who do a lot of entertaining will want to install a bigger pool. There are just more options for activities in a bigger pool. However, if you don’t expect many people to use the pool at once, it can be a waste of money and space to get a bigger pool. Most people won’t notice the difference between a 30-ft pool and a 25-ft pool, but you will undoubtedly notice the price tag.

Are You Planning to Use the Pool for Exercise and Swimming Laps?

Serious swimmers who plan on regularly doing laps need to get a pool that’s long enough for that purpose. Very few homeowners have space or money for an Olympic-size pool, but if you plan to use your pool for swimming laps, you’ll want one designed for that purpose.

If you plan to swim laps regularly, the pool should be at least 30 feet long. However, this is the minimum I would recommend, and you can most definitely go for a longer pool if you have the space and budget.

Another popular form of exercise in pools is aquatic aerobics (also known as Aquasize). In this case, the depth of the pool is more important than the length or width. Most exercises require roughly shoulder-deep water (I’d recommend at least five feet deep), while other exercises may work better if you can’t touch the bottom of the pool.

Summing It All Up

One of the most consequential decisions a homeowner faces when installing a new pool is its size. There’s no going back on this decision once you break ground on an inground pool, so make sure to carefully consider all of the factors mentioned in this article. Be sure to check out my article on swimming pool shapes too.

No two families or homeowners will have the same preferences or needs for pools, so the decision ends up being very personalized.

Questions about how big you should go? Let me know; always happy to provide some more advice.

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