Swimply’s Airbnb-style pool rental expands to Pittsburgh space

Nicknamed the “Airbnb of swimming pools,” Swimply has seen significant growth since its startup in 2018, including in Pittsburgh.

Although the Pittsburgh area had no pools available for rent in 2019, there were 19 as of the end of July.

According to Vice President of Growth Sonny Mayugba, Swimply follows the sharing economy business model.

Hosts rent their pools out to guests for a few hours at a time, allowing the host to profit and the guests to enjoy the space.

Registering a pool on Swimply is free, and the company takes 15% of the host’s profit. Additionally, Swimply offers $1 million in liability insurance and $10,000 in property damage to protect guests and hosts.

Mayugba said hosts determine which hours and days they rent their pools out to guests, and they can offer further amenities — including additional yard space, towels, bathroom access, Wi-Fi and electrical outlets.

Hosts also can set preferences for group size, parties, whether they allow pets, restrictions on alcohol and smoking, and age requirements.

Ron Young of Reserve Township joined Swimply just after July 4. He has had four groups rent out his space so far, including a return guest and a same-day booking.

Young said he heard about Swimply through a Facebook advertisement and figured it would be a good way to make additional income because he uses his pool only a few days per week.

Young also was inspired to join after reading about an Oregon couple who has earned a great profit through the service. Swimply spokeswoman Kristen Marion said the couple has hosted 2,700 guests and earned $111,000 this summer alone.

Similarly, Jennifer Hanuska decided to “sign up and see what happens” in late June after hearing about Swimply from a neighbor and a news article.

Hanuska, of Springdale, has had one family rent from her so far. She rents her pool for $36 an hour on weekdays and $45 an hour on Sundays, plus an extra $10 an hour per person in groups above eight people.

Hanuska also offers bathroom access, a patio, a deck, furniture and coolers for guests to store food or drinks in.

Guests also can rent Hanuska’s fire pit and grill for an additional $10.

Young rents his pool for $24 an hour during the week and $30 an hour on weekends. There is an additional $5-per-hour charge per person in groups above five people.

He also gives his guests access to a variety of pool toys and floats, as well as his patio and backyard. Towels can be rented at an additional cost.

Mayugba said Swimply saw a 4,000% growth in revenue from 2019 to 2020, which he suspects is partially a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Because the pandemic caused a variety of businesses and entertainment facilities to close, Mayugba said Swimply’s pool-sharing service became a popular option. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement that outdoor chlorine pools are safe brought more guests to feel comfortable renting.

Hanuska said the family who rented her pool mentioned they felt safer swimming in a private pool among themselves than going to a public facility, which is part of the reason she joined.

“I thought (joining Swimply) might be a nice way to make money and help people out at the same time,” Hanuska said.

This growth rate has only continued in 2021. Mayugba said hosts are available in all 50 states, as well as Canada and Australia.

Although growth within the U.S. is Swimply’s focus for this year, Mayugba said he hopes to expand internationally in future years.

He also would like to continue the trend of expansion to small towns across the country.

According to Mayugba, there are 45 Pittsburgh-area hosts in the on-boarding phase, which will result in nearly 65 total pools for the region once officially registered. He said it is exciting to see this growth happen organically because Swimply is intended to be a “hyper-local community site.”

There are two pools available for rent in Westmoreland County, one in Irwin and the other in New Kensington. The owners of these properties declined to comment.

Pools also can be found in McKeesport, Bethel Park and Washington.

Mayugba said he hopes these local expansions continue connecting communities and “democratizing (the) luxury” of pools, especially because this is the primary reason the company was founded.

Mayugba said one of the founders is the oldest of 12 children, and he often was on the hunt for a pool to take his siblings to in the summer. After a neighbor mentioned he would like to make money from renting his pool, the two came together to form Swimply.

Brackenridge man signs up

Swimply host Sean Dicer of Brackenridge said he wishes the service were around when he was growing up.

“I would’ve loved to have rented a pool just to hang out for a couple hours on a hot day,” he said.

Mirroring this sentiment, Hanuska believes Swimply’s flexible, community-focused design creates a “nice side gig” for hosts and a good entertainment option for guests.

“They do this with RVs, homes — why not with pools?” Hanuska said.

Dicer said he heard about Swimply when his children noticed advertisements for it on popular TikTok accounts. Dicer, a teacher in the Highlands School District, joined Swimply toward the end of July to make money during his time off in the summer.

Dicer said his pool is available for reservation on weekdays and weekends for $40 an hour, plus $3 an hour per person in groups over 10 people. He also offers his deck, towels, Wi-Fi, electrical outlet and bathroom for no additional charge.

Mayugba said hosts do not have to open their bathrooms up for guests, but those who choose not to must limit reservations to an hour at a time. So far, 80% of hosts permit bathroom access.

Dicer said he has not received any reservations yet and is not sure if people will feel comfortable renting a pool in Brackenridge, but he believes there could be an increase in guests if pandemic restrictions remain lifted.

Young plans to continue hosting on Swimply in years to come and hopes to attract more guests through advertising on Facebook.

“All of the families have been very respectful of my property,” Young said. “I haven’t had any bad experiences so far.”

Quincey Reese is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Quincey at 724-757-4910, qreese@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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