World’s Largest Outdoor Pool 1/2 Mile Long

An Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters long and 25 meters wide. The longest current Olympic swimming event is 400 meters, both as an individual race and as a relay race. For the average person, swimming just one 50-meter lap is strenuous work.

Imagine this, though: swimming one lap in a pool that was more than twenty times the length of an Olympic Pool. Well, if you’d like to try, then hop down to the central coast of Chile and give it a shot.

At the idyllic San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, you’ll find the largest swimming pool in the world. Over one kilometer long (nearly 3/5 of a mile), it spans a total of 20 acres (8 hectares) and contains 66 million gallons of water.

This begs the question – why? Just another extravagance of an insanely wealthy family intent on flashing their ostentatious capabilities?

For once, no.

The waters of coastal Chile are generally inhospitable to swimmers. The Humboldt current flows north up the coast, carrying with it cold water from the depths of the Pacific, so a wetsuit, gloves, and bootees are mandatory for anyone in the water. The Humboldt also brings other unwelcome guests: strong currents and powerful riptides. This makes swimming prohibited along much of the Chilean coast.

All of which is unfortunate because Chilean beaches are beautiful and accommodate hordes of year-round tourists who come to camp, eat, and dance the nights away at the scores of campgrounds, restaurants, and five-star hotel resorts.

So, biochemist Fernando Fischmann decided to ameliorate the lack of swimming. He developed a technology called Crystal Lagoons technology, in which saltwater is constantly circulated from the nearby sea by a computer-controlled suction and filtration system. This means the water is always fresh. The result was a huge saltwater swimming pool in this small Chilean resort town.

From this, an industry was born.

The San Alfonso pool is a safe, clean place to enjoy water sports of all kinds. One can navigate the 250,000 cubic meters of water by paddleboat, sail boat, canoe, kayak, inner tube, or just plain swimming. With spectacular views of the Pacific on one side and those of snowcapped mountain peaks on the east side, one can also enjoy other activities such as SCUBA diving, snorkeling, paragliding, and water shuttle service.

The waters are crystal clear, mirroring the clear blue skies above. Pool temperatures are maintained at a very comfortable 79 degrees (26 degrees Celsius), which is about 18 degrees warmer than the adjacent ocean.

The success of the pool and the technology used to create and maintain it has resulted in patents and construction all over the world of more pools of this sort. According to the Crystal Lagoons web site (, construction costs are $160,000 per acre and less than $2000 per month in maintenance costs.

The technology is also cost-efficient, as the pools consume just 2% of the energy needed for pools with normal filtration systems. The lining of this particular pool is white, which is the recommended color, but Crystal Lagoons can create other tones depending on the needs of the customer.

The practicality and relative cost-efficiency of this technology is thought to make possible the building of other such pools in areas previously thought inhospitable.

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