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Pristine Swimming
With a nod to Mother Nature, European designers keep pools clean and safe without resorting to chemicals.
By Michelle Taute

Michael Littlewood is on a personal mission. The independent landscape architect has spent the last several years trying to convince England's homeowners they can enjoy safe backyard swimming sans all the harsh chemicals. So far it's been an upstream battle.

Courtesy Michael Littlewood

While there are an estimated 5,000 natural pools on the Continent that date back to at least 1985, Littlewood didn't preside over the design and installation of England's first chemical-free swimming pool until 2001. He teamed up with an environmentally minded family in Gloucester County and the Austrian firm Biotop to create a pool that mimics Mother Nature's natural water-cleaning systems for rivers and lakes. Littlewood hopes U.S. designers will eventually follow his lead and champion natural pools in what potentially is the largest untapped market.

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