Waterfront: September 2007 - Spotlight On Safety

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HGTV Dives In

Watershapes take center stage in TV special.

For the second summer in a row, HGTV aired a special called "The Big Splash," which highlighted, according to the show, the 10 most amazing pools in the United States. In determining which pools would get on the show, KPI, the company that produced "The Big Splash," made a great effort to include different styles and types of pools, says executive producer Kristy Sabat. "We did extensive research and had tons of conversations with experts, builders, designers and homeowners across America to determine who we wanted to feature.

"We did Internet research, cold-called real estate agents in very affluent areas, and also looked at books and magazine articles, and used them as leads to builders and/or homeowners we wanted to feature. We also worked with professional organizations and posted ads on several Internet sites like Craigslist looking for submissions."

Mike Giannamore, vice president of Aqua Pool & Patio in East Windsor, Conn., figures the pool his company built right into a quarry got noticed because it won an APSP design award. Giannamore, who appears on the show describing the pool and its construction, says the exposure has not yet generated any business for his company, but "it's really cool just to be a part of it. And any time we win an award or get great press like this, if we're smart enough to inform consumers about it, it only enhances our competence in their eyes. It's impressive."

In case you were too busy building pools this past summer to catch the special, here's a quick summary of the 10 pools, complete with the title the show gave to each pool.

#10 ADVENTURE POOL: A tropically themed pool with a 22-foot slide, a wall with climbing handholds perched over the pool, a spa under a waterfall and lots of man-made boulders.

#9 AQUARIUM POOL: Has a custom-made fish tank that serves as one of the pool walls. The tank sits between the home's basement and the rest of the pool. The $70,000 aquarium has walls made of 4-inch-thick acrylic to hold back the 76 tons of water in the pool.

#8 QUARRY POOL: Aqua Pool & Patio carved this pool from a former limestone quarry. The naturally occurring cracks and fissures in the bedrock had the builder worried, but when they finished, the water stayed in the pool.

#7 CLIFF-EDGE POOL: This indoor/outdoor pool cantilevers 50 feet over the edge of a mountain.

The homeowner says it feels like he is "swimming in the clouds" when he does his laps.

#6 ROOFTOP POOL: This 324-square-foot pool in Manhattan has a teak deck and steel pool walls. To get the nine 1 1/2 -ton steel panels on the roof, a crane stopped traffic on Broadway for hours.

#5 CRYSTAL BALL POOL: A vanishing-edge pool with a great view of the Las Vegas strip, an in-pool lounge with a firepit and seating area and a 10foot-high crystal ball. The ball fills up with water, which then spills over all around it.

#4 PIRATE POOL: Caribbean-themed pool features a slide, a roaring waterfall and a "hidden" cave where a pirate guards his chest of goodies. The poolscape has 50 tons of real rock and 30 tons of faux rock.

#3 HIS & HERS POOLS: She wanted a warm, shallow pool with a waterfall, and he wanted a deep pool with a diving rock and a view, so they got two pools with exactly what each one wanted. A custom spa connects the pools.

#2 ATHLETIC POOL: Owned by Olympic silvermedalist Sharon Burger, this poolscape has a spa, a kid-friendly splash area and a lap pool with a vanishing edge. "We're in the pool morning, noon and night," says Burger.

#1 EXTREME POOL: This tropically themed watershape has a rope swing hanging from a tree with a 14-foot-deep plunge pool below; a long, twisting slide; a spa; a swim-in-place jet; and since it's owned by Paul Schmitt, "a Southern California skateboarding legend," according to the show, there's also a skate pool, i.e., a figure-eight-shaped dry pool.

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