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World's biggest pool in El Campo? (video)

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 28, 2013 at 3:28 a.m.
Updated Aug. 29, 2013 at 3:29 a.m.

The Mobley family's pool, which was built by Kuykendall Custom Pools Inc., in their backyard in El Campo. The pool sits on 2 acres of land and was completed in two months and eight days.

For information

To learn more about Kuykendall Custom Pools, the company behind what is reportedly the world's largest residential swimming pool, visit the Kuykendall Custom Pools website.

Did you know ... ?

Today, the Mobley family's pool holds about 600,000 gallons of water. It initially held more, but last winter, the family had the floor raised.

Source: Rick Kuykendall, co-owner of Kuykendall Custom Pools

EL CAMPO - Sometimes size really does matter.

And in the case of one Conroe-based pool company, a larger-than-life creation housed in the Crossroads made a record-breaking splash.

It was 2009 when El Campo resident Mike Mobley and his family charged Kuykendall Custom Pools with a tall order, a resort-style swimming pool with something for everybody, said Rick Kuykendall, the pool company's co-owner.

And in the process, they inadvertently created what is reportedly the world's largest residential pool.

Kuykendall said it all began in March or April 2009, when the Mobleys began talking with pool companies about the potential build. The family had a good idea regarding what they wanted, he said, but they also knew they wanted that pool up and running in time for an Independence Day bash.

That gave Kuykendall, who won the bid, two and a half months.

"So we got working," he said, noting that meant crews working 24/7, draining the existing 2-acre pond, removing dirt, ushering in about 600 loads of select fill, compacting it down and installing the beams.

The Advocate attempted to contact the Mobleys, but Kuykendall said the family shies away from the media but allows him to talk about the project.

The project's size put the pool at risk of cracking and falling apart, he said, although the company luckily sidestepped such destruction.

Cheryl Kuykendall, Rick's wife and co-owner of the pool company, headed up the design process. She said the sheer size of the property proved a benefit when it came to meeting deadline. While a typical backyard leaves little elbow room, having the 2 acres the pool calls home was a nice change.

"There's room for everybody to work," she said, explaining that, otherwise, a similar project would likely take six to seven months. "We had the luxury of space."

There were tweaks that came as the project got off the ground, Rick Kuykendall said - namely, ensuring the pool met the clients' expectations.

"(Mike Mobley) walked out to the middle of the pool after we excavated it and got it ready, and he says, 'It's not big enough,'" Kuykendall said. "So we had to come out here and push that back end back some more ... It goes out probably roughly another 25 to 30 foot back."

The lazy river - the element Cheryl Kuykendall said she is most proud of - was also extended farther than in the original plans.

Ongoing updates or not, the company made its July 4 deadline with time to spare, Rick Kuykendall said. A week before the party was set to take place, he said crews were filling the pool, getting the chemical mix just right and adding a few finishing touches.

And the company had a bit of help when it came to that final fill.

Although crews began adding water via a 6-inch well installed specifically for the pool, Rick Kuykendall said his clients, anxious to see the completed project, brought in water trucks to finish faster.

"Mike is a great guy," he said, chuckling. "Just very impatient."

The finished product is a $3 million saltwater getaway - which takes about $30,000 annually for maintenance - complete with waterfalls; multiple water slides; swim-up bar and a 500-foot, adjustable-speed lazy river.

About 125 mosaics adorn the floor and walls, while two hot tubs - one large enough for 25 people, another much smaller - also joins the mix.

One unexpected surprise, at least when it came to the actual design process, also incorporates a bit of Texas history.

Cheryl Kuykendall said crews were moving equipment when the homeowner allowed them access to the family's barn. It was there they found an AstroWorld remnant, part of the family's haul from the amusement park's auction.

It was a "Thunder River" sign that adorned one of the park's water rides, she said, and it would fit perfectly.

"We saw that, and it was like, 'Excuse me, can we use this?'" she said. "When the owner is an on-site builder, things like that can happen. You can make certain design calls on-site."

In the years since the pool's completion, the creation has gained national recognition. HGTV's "Million Dollar Rooms" featured the aquatic getaway in a segment, for instance.

Rebecca Munos, president of the El Campo Chamber of Commerce, said the city benefits from that publicity.

"Any positive media you get for something like this, of course, it's good for the community," she said. "It's fun."

She described the Mobleys as well-respected members of the community who always give back.

The family recently purchased an old middle school, for instance and remodeled a part of it - one area became a cheer facility - to benefit the public.

Rick Kuykendall said he's been part of many exciting projects through the years - they even built a pool for a member of the Mobley family that comes complete with zip lines - but the El Campo pool is something special.

"You may have somebody come in and build something bigger later on, and that's fine," he said. "But this was the first one."

His wife agreed. This was a chance to push the envelope, she said, and incorporate elements that aren't usually possible with residential projects.

Still, she isn't opposed to future challenges.

"I'm waiting for someone to knock on our door and say, 'We saw you built the world's largest pool. Well, we want the largest pool,'" she said, laughing. "We're ready."

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