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San Alfonso del Mar: The world’s largest swimming pool

If you had asked me to guess where the world’s largest swimming pool could be found I would have guessed Las Vegas, Dubai or China. So I was shocked to discover that it’s at San Alfonso del Mar in Algarrobo, a Chilean resort town about 60 miles West of the capital Santiago. The pool is 3,323 ft long, has an area of 20 acres and contains some 66 million gallons of seawater.

The pool is the crowning achievement of Chilean realtor, biochemist and entrepreneur Fernando Fischmann. Fischmann’s company Crystal Lagoons developed the technology that makes maintaining such a pool economically viable. His system uses pulses and ultra-sonic filtration to keep large bodies of salt water clean and crystalline – almost unbelievably so. Sea water from the Pacific Ocean is pumped in at one end and out of the other, and minimal chlorine and electricity are required.

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If, like us, you aren’t a fan of enormous resorts and over-the-top developments, you may well ask ‘What’s the point?’ This question can – at least in part – be answered by global ocean current patterns. The western coastlines of all continents in the southern hemisphere feature cold ocean currents while warmer water can be found on eastern coastlines. Chile’s beaches are far better to look at than they are to swim in, and the country’s wealthy elite have traditionally gone to Brazil and Uruguay for their summer holidays. Fischmann plans to change this and he has made his pool a whopping 16’F warmer than the ocean next to it.

In an almost inevitable postscript, I have just learnt that Crystal Lagoons is currently building a pool which is four times bigger than the one at Sal Alfonso. Where? Dubai, of course…

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