On Top of the World

Michael Popke Headshot
All photos courtesy of Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa
All photos courtesy of Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa

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As a boutique pool builder for high-end clients in Southern California, Dave Penton is accustomed to meeting the challenges of complicated projects. Which is why an epic 26-by-100-foot pool in a hilly Bel Air neighborhood overlooking the Pacific Coast was right in his wheelhouse.

But this project took longer than others — about five years — in large part because it needed to be built in phases while the home was constructed for a renowned plastic surgeon.

“He was competing with his neighbor to see who can build the biggest pool,” says Penton, owner of Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa in Fullerton, Calif. “And not just the pool, but also the biggest house. So this project was about building something people hadn’t seen before, something that was completely over the top."

Quite literally.

This $1.4 million pool, featuring a 160-foot vanishing edge with an 11-foot drop, was built atop the gigantic garage of a 34,000-square-foot home. Designed by Orange, Calif.-based McClean Design, the pool spans about 2,500 square feet and boasts seven walls. Additionally, a massive water wall measuring approximately 180-feet long with heights ranging from eight to 19 feet wraps around much of the front and side of the home.

Penton says he worked closely with the home’s structural concrete contractor, and Fluid Dynamics laid piping within the structure of the home as it was being built. Then, after home-construction crews completed the garage (with significant reinforcement, it’s worth noting), Penton’s crews returned to the site to build the pool on top of the garage.

All of the pool equipment is housed in two storage spaces within the garage, and a large surge tank sits underneath the garage to handle the pool’s large amount of waterflow.

The home went on the market for $180 million and, as of this writing, was still for sale. While awaiting a buyer, the client uses it for solely (and magnificently) for entertaining purposes.

All photos courtesy of Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa

Pentair Simplifies the Complexity

Wherever possible, Penton used Pentair equipment to bring this party pool to life.

The water wall uses Pentair’s BioShield UV disinfection sanitizers, and a 6-by-6-foot glass-tile spa in the basement-level wellness wing boasts two IntelliFlo XF pumps, a Clean & Clear Plus cartridge filter and a ClearWater Tech/Apex IV ozone system.

The pool itself (which is 4-feet deep throughout) is powered by 16 IntelliFlo XF pumps, Clean & Clear Plus filters and a ClearWater Tech/Apex VIII ozone system.

“I’m sold on the XF pumps, so all pumps on this project are Pentair XFs,” Penton says. “The efficiency of their design and the amount of water they can move is tremendous. In a job like this, that’s really important. But even in smaller jobs, we can set everything up to turn the speed of the pump down, which means we can help the client save on electricity.”

Pentair’s IntelliTouch pool-automation system ties everything into the home’s vast automation system, and Penton says a Pentair sales representative visited the property multiple times to help him perfect the logistics of such a massive operation.

“The biggest reason I use Pentair is because when you start to get into these very complex projects, the demand that clients have for smart home integration really increases,” Penton says. “And integration capabilities among Pentair products are significantly better than anybody else’s. Nobody else can even touch Pentair.”

All photos courtesy of Fluid Dynamics Pool and Spa


In addition to building one-of-kind pools for some of the country’s most-demanding clients, Penton is chair of the Society of Watershape Designers, a faculty member of the GENESIS education and certification program and a host of the “Ask the Masters Podcast,” which is dedicated to frank talk about the design and construction of watershapes, poolscapes, landscapes and architecture — both residential and commercial.

He also is founder of International Swim Day, which he says he started on a whim this year.

“It was National Corn on the Cob Day the day I was researching to see if there was a day officially dedicated to swimming,” Penton says. “There was not, so I decided I was going to make a swim day.”

International Swim Day debuted on June 21, 2019, and the grassroots effort reached about 100,000 people via Instagram and Facebook, according to Penton. He is hoping to get International Swim Day officially recognized next year and plans a bigger promotional push.

“My focus is not just on pools but also on boating, scuba diving, surfing, waterskiing — anything that involves water,” says Penton, who has six children and is an avid supporter of water safety and learn to-swim programs. “But I want to anchor it in the pool industry, because the more people who know how to swim, the more people are going to be purchasing swimming pools for their backyards. Wherever they learn to swim — in a public pool, a lake or anywhere else — we want them to bring swimming back to their home.”

And when they do, Pentair will be there to help them get the most out of their residential pool experience.

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