Why Vacation When You Can Poolside Staycation

Staycations are more popular and feasible than ever. And maximizing the comforts of our homes are at an all-time high. These two go hand in hand. Your home should be the perfect get-away from the crazy, hectic world, whether we are in the middle of a pandemic or not. And creating a ‘staycation home’ will have you enjoying your home the fullest, year-round.

Coordinating flights, road travel, cars, hotels, luggage and then worrying about safety with the recent COVID-19 pandemic can be very overwhelming and a bit too much right now.

What is a Staycation?
The definition of staycation is “one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.”. This can mean you enjoy your backyard and soak up the sun with a few relaxing drinks one day, to enjoying the best backyard BBQ ever with your closest family and friends.

You can even plan to visit local shops, museums, art exhibits in your own town. Truly enjoy the things you don’t get to on a regular basis when you are working and raising the kids.

Staycations can be what you make them, and we are here to provide some ideas and tips to make it a great one for you. After all, 2020 needs to end with something on a positive note.

Get Outdoors
Go on a hike, enjoy your pool, visit local beaches, take a drive along the coast. Vacation is the perfect time to enjoy time outdoors. During your staycation, take some time to discover what’s in your backyard and spend some time outside. Swim, lounge, eat, drink, dance, relax by your pool and in your backyard… after all, that’s what staycation is all about.

Enjoying your backyard is what makes a staycation. So preparing beforehand is key to true relaxation. Add lighting to your pool area to make the area most relaxing. Be sure you have comfortable seating and lounge chairs, so you can actually take a nap if you choose. Buy some candles, citronella would be ideal to help keep the bugs away, and they also add to the relaxing atmosphere. Decorate, add pillows and towels so you have every comfort you need at your finger-tips. Also provide the perfect speaker so you can enjoy your favorite tunes pool-side. Add a hammock to bring your staycation to the maximum relaxation level.

Unplug from Technology
One of the best ways to unwind during staycation is to unplug from technology. Taking time away from the daily screen routine gives your mind a break and your body a chance to connect with its natural side. Pick one day and silence your cell, log out of social media accounts and turn off email alerts. It may be tough, but it will be worth it, and you can do it.

Treat yourself
Load up with lots of good drink and food options so you can make amazing dinners to enjoy. Buy the crab legs, the steak you have been wanting. Get your grill ready so you can enjoy your meals fire-grilled and outdoors. Not sure what you want? There are a ton of creative ideas online to search for some fun new recipes to try.

Prefer not to cook? Make a list of the local restaurants you want to try and order from.

I know, this is obvious, right?
Forget your worries and troubles. Ignore the laundry and phone calls. Kick back and relax and truly enjoy your staycation to the fullest.

Ready to find professionals that can transform your backyard into a dream staycation destination? Connect with us here.

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Poolside Get-together Ideas: COVID Style

COVID-19 has rocked the entire world and has brought about inventive ideas to do our best and try to maintain life as normal. Below we provide some tips for a successful poolside party for you so you can enjoy those birthdays again, or just simply enjoy a Sunday afternoon.

The most important thing for you to ensure a safe pool party during the COVID-19 pandemic is to ask all your guests the night before how they are feeling. If anyone is not feeling well, ask them to please stay home.

Food is always necessary for a good party! Simply add toothpicks or prepare individual skewers so it can be a simple grab-n-go. If it’s hot off the grill, hand them out as you remove them from the grill. If its cheese or fruit, try to wrap each portion in serene wrap. This will not only keep off the bugs but any potential germs that could be floating about.

Stay away from the dips in a large bowl. Make small individual cups of the dip, so each person can have a small portion of their own. The less food is touched the better. So, if you can prepare it so nobody but the eater touches it, you have successfully prepared perfect feeding options for your party, during the COVID pandemic.

Now, let’s talk drinks! Simply have your guests bring their own and use their own cups. This keeps everything simple and easy AND COVID-19 safe.

Keep everyone outside and if heading inside to use the bathroom, make masks a requirement when entering the house. Make sure to maintain 6 feet between people and if any of your guests are health compromised, have them wear a mask, even outside. Organize the seating a spaced-out fashion so your guests don’t have to move the chairs around themselves.

Come up with a fun welcome so the hugs and handshakes are not used. Blow an air horn every time a guest arrives, or create a creative welcoming air-shake, an air high-five for example. Better yet, create a fun YouTube video of the plan and send to your guests before arriving so they are prepared to not hug or shake hands.

Pool time! Swimming is ok and the pool water does not transmit COVID-19, so it’s safe to enjoy a swim. It is important, however, to maintain the 6-foot distance between each other, even in the water. Wear your swimsuit to the party if you plan to swim, so you don’t have to make an additional trip in the house to change in the bathroom. Also, bring your own towel so when you exit the pool. We recommend keeping your suit on after swimming and wearing a swimsuit cover up, a basic t-shirt or just hang out in your swimsuit until it dries to eliminate additional bathroom changes.

If you any additional questions, please be sure to error on the side of caution. If you are nervous, it may be best to hold off and wait to have your party when the world has eliminated most of the COVID-19 cases.

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Deciding to add a pool to your home is a big decision and finding the right company to build your backyard pool can feel overwhelming at first. However, we are here to provide you with some simple steps to ensure you are choosing the right company.

Start with a Local Pool Search

Search online for local pool builders and review their websites. Read about the various companies and review their portfolios and images. Study which style of pool you like best and create a wish list. Pick a few pool builders and contact them for an estimate.

Find a certified pool builder 

Make sure that the company you choose is a certified pool building/building professional. This shows that a staff member has gone through extensive training and testing on pool building.

Check the Reviews

Check out the Google, Yelp and/or Facebook Reviews on the company. The real client reviews are the most honest reviews and feedback you can get on a company. 

Ask for Referrals

ask the pool company for a list of customer referrals and see if you can see some of the pools they have built. Contact the people on the list and ask them about the pool building process.

Get it in Writing

If you had an estimate provided to you by a company, get your estimate in writing. If anything is discussed like warranty, or any promises are made affecting the purchasing, be sure you getting in writing. They should be comfortable providing this for you.

Take your Time
There is no need to rush into making this large decision. Do your research, take your time, ask questions and decide when the time is right for you. Some places will rush and put the pressure on to make a decision. Be sure to not give into the pressure. When it feels right, you will know.

Read everything they give you

A reputable pool builder will provide you with a decent amount of reading material to provide you with information and knowledge about the process. Be sure to read all the material given to you so you are aware of everything. Then don’t sign anything until all your questions are answered and you feel fully comfortable with what you have been told, provided and given.

Know your Rights
According to the Better Business Bureau, a contract which has been signed by the customer is not binding on the pool company until signed by an officer of the firm, and its terms are subject to change. The BBB further advises that, “potential customers should be aware that, if they sign a contract at the builder’s place of business but do not finance the pool, there may be no rescission or three-day cooling off period. The finance contract has a 3 day rescission clause, but this does not affect the pool contract.”

Is the company insured?
Ask to see a copy of their Liability Insurance, Worker’s Comp Insurance, and their state Contractor’s license.  This is important to know you are dealing with professionals.

Challenger Pools is always here and ready to answer any question you may have. We are happy to provide you with a free estimate and schedule a time to review your property. Please call us today at 813.454.0582 or fill out the form here or to the right of this copy.
 We look forward to hearing from you and helping ease your pool building process.

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Cinco De Mayo Fun Poolside Recipes

Cinco De Mayo brings a lot of fun and laughter but even more delicious food! Embrace the day and make some of the best food while you enjoy a dunk in your pool. Below we offer a few of our favorite recipes that you can grab and go!  The perfect finger foods to enjoy while you are enjoying your backyard swimming pool.


Taco Pinwheels Recipe & photo by Taste of Home

Taco Pinwheels


  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup Seasoned Taco Meat
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ripe olives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 5 flour tortillas (8 inches), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup shredded lettuce
  • Additional salsa


  • In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Stir in the taco meat, cheese, salsa, mayonnaise, olives and onion. Spread over tortillas. Sprinkle with lettuce; roll up tightly. Wrap securely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Unwrap and cut into 1-in. pieces. Serve with additional salsa.


Fresh Lime Margaritas

Fresh Lime Margaritas Recipe & photo by Taste of Home


  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 4 lime wedges
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/3 cups crushed ice


  • In a pitcher, combine first five ingredients; stir until sugar is dissolved. Moisten rims of 4 margarita or cocktail glasses with lime wedges. Sprinkle salt on a plate; dip rims in salt. Serve in prepared glasses over crushed ice.

– For Frozen Strawberry Margaritas: Follow directions for Frozen Lime Margaritas, except add 2 cups frozen unsweetened strawberries and reduce crushed ice to 2 cups. Yield: 4 cups.


Grilled Guacamole

Grilled Guacamole Recipe & photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 plum tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 3 medium ripe avocados, halved and pitted
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Tortilla chips


  • In a large bowl, combine onion, tomatoes, pepper and 1 tablespoon oil; gently toss to coat. Grill, covered, over medium-high heat or broil 4 in. from heat 6-8 minutes or until tender and charred, turning occasionally. Brush avocados with remaining oil. Grill or broil avocados, cut side down, 4-6 minutes or until charred. Cool vegetables completely.
  • Chop onion, tomatoes and pepper; set aside. Peel avocados; transfer to a large bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in vegetables, cilantro, lime juice, cumin and salt. Serve immediately with chips.

Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.


Mini Chimichangas

Mini Chimichangas Recipe & photo by Taste of Home


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 package (1 pound) egg roll wrappers (14 count)
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Oil for deep-fat frying
  • Salsa and additional sour cream


  • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cheese, sour cream and chiles. Stir in beef mixture. Place an egg roll wrapper on work surface with one point facing you. Place 1/3 cup filling in center. Fold bottom third of wrapper over filling; fold in sides.
  • Brush top point with egg white; roll up to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. (Keep remaining egg roll wrappers covered with waxed paper to avoid drying out.)
  • In a deep cast-iron or electric skillet, heat 1 in. of oil to 375°. Fry chimichangas on each side or until golden brown, 1-1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm with salsa and sour cream.We would love to hear your results and how the dishes turned out for you. Please give feedback on the above recipes or share any ideas you have.

    Thank you Taste of Home for your beautiful recipes and images.

    Read more >>> 5 Summertime Pool Safety Tips

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How Your Pool Can Help Heal an Injury

Swimming pools are most known for entertainment and a great way to keep the kids busy. However, they can also provide a great exercise and rebuild after an injury.

Water activity increases strength and flexibility, in a low impact and safe environment. It also is good for joints, so water exercise is often recommended for rehabilitation after an injury or surgery. Physical injuries can sideline you and really interfere with your daily life. Rehabilitation allows your muscles and ligaments to strengthen and provide more support for injured areas. So, utilizing a pool to gain your strength back will help ease the process.

Whether it be swimming laps, arm exercises off the wall or using a pool noodle to help you kick in the deep end, the amount of exercises to help you repair and get back to your busy life are almost endless in a swimming pool. Water exercises don’t need to be strenuous to be beneficial. Simple calisthenics in a seated position, back floating, water walking, or kicking exercises are all very beneficial.

Why are pools so effective?

  • The buoyancy of water is a force that acts on the body to balance the weight of a swimmer supporting the body weight. The buoyancy of the water protects joints, while water’s resistance increases the efficiency of the workout. Because swimming is not weight-bearing, it is exceptionally helpful for back pain. Utilizing different swim strokes or positions helps alleviate some pressure in the back, as the water can provide support. The backstroke is helpful for back injuries because you lie in a supine position as opposed to other strokes performed in a prone position.
  • Water exercise is low impact, meaning it is easier on your body than many other exercises, with less chance of further injury from falls or stumbles. There are many injuries that respond well to water exercises and swimming.

Water therapy can be great for almost any kind of stubborn pain. Immersion and floatation offer tremendous benefits. A partial relief from gravity, helps to make movement feel easy, cushioned, and safe — and these can lead to stepping-stones in rehabilitation and pain management after an injury or surgery.

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What Size Backyard is Needed for a Pool?

You just bought a house, the kitchen is AMAZZZZING, the bathroom shower rocks and your floors are heaven, but the backyard is small and nothing to write home about. You wonder, will a swimming pool bring life to my backyard and add value to my new home?

The best place to start this process is to ask a pool professional. They will come out to your home and give an on-site evaluation and provide you with a pool building estimate. For example, if you fill out this form here, Challenger Pools will provide you with a FREE consultation. Most likely you will need to provide them with a bit of help. For example, a copy of your yards plot plan or surveyor report. This will help them get started in the right direction by knowing of any obstacles or setbacks before getting started.

Most backyards can fit a pool, so you’re in luck. The only thing is that you may be limited to size and placement based on the layout of your backyard.

What are some reasons that can limit the size of your backyard pool?

  • Property Line Setbacks
  • Septic System or Underground Utilities
  • Drainage and Utilities Easements
  • Power Lines
  • Zoning Regulations and Lot Coverage Rules
  • Access to the area
  • Retaining Walls
  • Existing Structures

Fortunately, many of these reasons can be worked around or moved. Having any ideas of what you backyard contains will be helpful to your pool builder. Once you review your surveyor report and know how much usable space you have, you can begin to envision the entire backyard including your pool patio area and landscaping. Picture and imagine the kind of area you would like with the amount of space you have. Know what kind of space you desire around your pool to accomplish your vision.

Please keep in mind a few general rules of thumb when getting a pool built in your backyard:

  • Build your pool and pool surround to occupy approximately 25% of the total available area (especially if you have kids)
  • Ensure the pool surrounds occupy an area of approximately 50% of the pool surface area
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Top 3 Swimming Pool Accessories to Increase the Value of Your Pool

A pool has already added value to your home, but have you thought that the equipment and accessories that you purchase can also add additional value to your pool and home? Make smart purchases when shopping for your pool, and it will benefit you in the long run. Below we offer the top 3 swimming pool accessories to add value to your pool.

Solar cover
Adding a heating system to your pool is very costly. A great way to keep the costs down is to purchase a solar cover. This will help keep your pool water warmer, cleaner and controlled as it’s not effected by the outdoor elements as much.

Automatic Pool Cleaner
Keeping your pool clean and maintained is a must and having to manually clean your pool can be a pain and a hassle. Purchasing an automatic pool cleaner will ease your stress and annoyance of always having to worry about cleaning your pool. The best ones offer to clean not only the pool bottom, but also the sides, so we recommend this type of automatic pool cleaner.


Pool Lights
Adding pool lights to your backyard swimming pool adds a great aesthetic and also allows you to enjoy your pool in the evenings with ease. Underwater lights are very affordable and can be easily installed.

Keep your pool in top shape so it adds value to your home, by purchasing a solar cover, automatic pool cleaner and pools lights. Adding additional features such as waterfalls, stonescapes, etc, will also add value but our top 3 accessories should be your top choices when looking to add value through pool accessories.

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Why Should I Use a Pool Cover on my Pool?

You work hard and spend money to maintain your pool and keep it in top condition. A pool cover will not only help you keep your pool clean but, will also save you time, use less energy, reduce costs, and help lessen water evaporation. A simple cover can tackle so many things to help you keep your pool in tip top shape. Let’s dive in a bit deeper about why you should use a pool cover on your outdoor swimming pool.

why use a pool coverSave time with a pool cover with less maintenance. The wind and storms throughout Florida are not always predictable, and after you have spent the afternoon cleaning your pool nothing is more frustrating than a storm filling your outdoor pool up with leaves, twigs and yard debris. If you were to have a cover on your pool, the leaves, twigs and yard debris would only remain on the top and not enter your pool. The next day there is no need for you to take another hour of your time to clean up from the storm in order for you to enjoy your pool.

Use less energy by allowing your new pool cover to help retain heat in your pool. Using a pool cover at night will keep the heat in your pool instead of exiting and losing it. Using a pool cover during those hot sunny days will heat your water quickly and without cost. A warm pool brings you and your family comfort, so take advantage of that suns energy when you can.

Using a pool cover reduces a pool’s chemical consumption by 35 to 60 percent, thus reducing costs. A pool cover will also lessen your heating bill and reduce water waste. This benefit alone is worth your investment in a pool cover.

Reduce water evaporation from your pool by using a pool cover. Science proves water evaporates. Using a pool cover will lessen evaporation and maintain your water level, so you don’t have to add as much water back into your pool.

With all these reasons alone, a pool cover is worth every dime you spend on one. There are a lot of pool cover options out there, so you don’t need an expensive, top of the line pool cover. It’s simply not necessary to get the job done. So, get out there and stop throwing your money and time into the air, go get your pool a pool cover.


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Pool Safety for Dogs

Swimming pools are great fun for our human friends and family as well as our furry friends. If you have a 4 pawed family member, it’s important to ensure their safety so that all parties remain safe and have fun. A few simple steps can make pool time for the family dog easy and fun.

Make sure they can swim:
If you are not sure if they know how a great starting point is the buy a cheap kiddy pool and get them warmed up in a shallow pool. This will help them get used to the feeling of the water and get more comfortable in it. Then move to the larger pool by swimming with them. This makes them feel safe and keeps you close as they get comfortable.

Understand the personality of the dog:
Often people think that certain breeds of dogs can swim or not swim, but please understand that the breed of your dog does NOT determine whether they can swim or not. It depends on their personality.

Life Vests:
There are a lot of options out there now for life vests for your dog. This will ensure their safety and even when swimming with kids or larger crowds, this will make sure they are safe, and they can keep their head above water.

Train your dog:
This doesn’t mean you need to prep your pup for the highest level of training. Simple steps, such as “shake”, “sit” and “come” can go a long way and ensures their safety in many situations, not just around the swimming pool. So take the time and commitment, reward your dog when they do what you ask, this teaches them positive reinforcement.

Learn pet CPR:
Just in case…better safe than sorry.

Don’t drink the water:
It’s often hard to prevent but keep fresh options around the pool area and teach them to drink the fresh water and to not drink the pool water. The chlorine is not good for them.

Provide a shaded area:
Be sure that they have a place to relax that is not in the water but in the shade.

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Tips on Preventing Pool Algae

Algae or green water is a very common issues with swimming pools. There are a few, simple and easy steps to help prevent the growth of it in your pool before it begins. If you wait for too long it can take multiple types of pool chemicals and numerous days of waiting for it to go away.

Keeping algae spores out of your pool is impossible to do. However, keeping the spores from growing into algae blooms is the key to keeping your pool from turning green. Swimming in algae water is not safe or healthy for your family and friends. It can create skin issues such as rashes or if you have an open sore, it can create infection. If you were to ingest algae water, it could cause bacterial infections that could bring diarrhea and fever.

Step #1 – Be sure your pool’s circulation system is running correctly
This step is #1 for a reason as we feel that it’s one of the most important steps to help prevent algae from growing. Check the skimmer and pump strainer baskets regularly. This will keep the flow of the sanitizing chemicals even within your pool. Also be sure to clean or backwash your filter. Over time, filters become clogged with dirt and debris, and require some simple maintenance. No matter what type of filter you use, it is necessary to clean your cartridge filter or backwash your sand or D.E. filter whenever the pressure gauge reads 8-10 psi higher than normal. Routinely checking and cleaning your skimmer, pump, and filter will help keep your pool clean and algae free.

Step #2 – Use chlorine & ‘Shock’
Green pool water or visible algae usually equals lack of chlorine. So make chlorine your best friend when trying to prevent algae. If you do see algae starting to form in your pool, try ‘shocking’ your pool. This means you use a large amount chlorine at once. This will kill any algae that is forming within 1-3 days

Step #3 – Brush the walls and floor of the swimming pool
Keep your walls, corners, steps and floor of your pool free of algae by scrubbing them. This will reduce the kill time of the forming algae.

Step #4 – Balance the pool pH
Aim for pH levels between 7.2 and 7.6 to help your chlorine work most effectively. You can do this by using a swimming pool pH test that you can purchase at any local pool store. If the pH is above 7.6 — which is common during an algae bloom — add a pH reducer (such as sodium bisulfate) to your pool according to label instructions. Wait at least a couple hours, then test the pool again.

To enjoy your pool year-round, follow these simple steps to maintain a ‘green free’ pool. Or easily hire a pool maintenance professional to maintain and tackle all this for you.

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