One Man’s Pipe Dream Comes to Fruition 20 Years Later, Leaving the Town in Awe

By: Riley Brown | Last updated: Nov 14, 2023

Think about your fondest dream, your wildest wish. Is it a vacation in Hawaii, or maybe winning the lottery? We can spend our whole lives working toward our dreams and hoping they come true. 

Micky Thornton was one person whose fondest wish was to build an incredible swimming pool. He finally did it, and boy, was his community wowed.

A Little Dreamer

What do most little kids wish for? Maybe a new bike, the latest doll, or, as they get older, some new wonder of technology. Children from a young age focus on different wishes as they grow up.  


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Starting at the tender age of ten, Micky Thornton only asked his parents for one thing – a gigantic swimming pool in their backyard. His parents truly wanted to give their child such an elaborate gift, but it wasn’t feasible at that time in their lives. They told him he’d have to wait. 


He Only Had to Wait 20 Years

“To start with,” Thornton told WREG-TV  in Memphis, “I probably had the idea when I was nine or ten years old,” he said. And even as a ten-year-old, Micky had very specific ideas about the design of the pool. 


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The specifications for the pool were all in Micky’s head. He wanted it to be large in the deep end, so large that you could feel comfortable swimming around and not feel, as he said, “like you are trapped in a little box.”

The Wish Begins to Come True

Micky married and had his own family. In 1993 the Thorntons moved to Tennessee. That’s when he decided that it was time to begin construction on his dream pool. He had waited long enough.


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He bought his new home with the pool in mind. The backyard was huge, with plenty of room for exactly the pool Micky had always dreamed about. He was thrilled that it was finally time to see his wish come to life.

A DIY Pool

This massive project had one contractor – Micky himself. His first task was to dig a large hole in the backyard, and that he did. The hole was over 20 feet deep.


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Thornton realized that this project was going to take a while. And he didn’t have all of the professional savvy of pool-building companies, but he was determined. Micky decided to waterproof the bottom by using a simple polyethylene mat instead Instead of lining the pool with professional lining or tiles.

I’ll Do It My Way

Micky wasn’t especially concerned about completing this project as the professionals would. He knew the basics, and felt confident that he could complete the pool on his own. He’d waited so long for this pool, and at age 39, he couldn’t wait any longer.

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He thought to himself at the time, “… I thought if I ever am going to do anything like [building a pool], I better get started working on it.” So he carried on with his dream project to complete it as quickly as possible.


Running into Some Problems

Not everything went as smoothly as Micky had hoped. First of all, his wife Jane was not happy with his placement of the huge pool.  This led to lengthy discussions about exactly where to start the digging.

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As with most big projects, there are lots of little problems that arise along the way. But Micky kept his big vision in mind and kept pushing forward. He was determined to work out any kinks in his path.


Not Near The Sidewalk!

Jane was adamant about where the pool should go. “If you’ve seen my house, I have pavement everywhere,” she said, “and he wanted to put it right next to that. I told him he had to move it out some.”

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But Micky was concerned about the landscape and knew that the pool had to be placed carefully. He told Jane, ‘But it’s all pasture and it runs downhill.’ Jane’s response was that Micky could “figure it out.” So Micky re-designed it one or more times, which is par for the course on such a big project.


Micky Figures Things Out

In the late 1990s, Thornton knew that the polyethylene lining he had used would have to be replaced. He had installed it when he first built the pool, knowing that it wasn’t the most leakproof material. Now he knew it was time to replace it before the pool developed leaks.  

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Then he focused on the water filtration system. He needed a bigger, more powerful one and couldn’t find what he needed in commercial stores. So, in Micky fashion, he developed his own system to keep the pool water clean.   


The Pool Keeps Getting Better

Micky loved making improvements on his creation. He was getting closer and closer to his dream pool, which he envisioned so many decades ago as a kid. He continued to come up with imaginative additions that the kids would love.

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In the late 1990s, Thornton built a waterfall feature for the pool, which thrilled all of the kids. Then he decided to add rocks to give the pool some visual interest. The rocks only lasted about 15 years, when the next improvements started.  


Finally, the Dream is Complete

Micky removed the rocks in 2013 because he wanted to refurbish the project and finally complete his dream backyard swimming pool.  Today, the pool is built to last. To hear the supplies Thornton used, you’d think he was creating an office building. 

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He used 20 tons of steel rebar, and 320 yards of gunite, which is used to line tunnels. Gunite is actually a hardwearing substance made from cement, sand and water. This pool is made to last a very long time!


This Is No Ordinary Pool

What started out as a backyard pool, albeit a big one, has seen so many improvements and added features that it has turned into something of a neighborhood water park.


The pool area has gorgeous waterfalls, a rope swing, and a diving board. Aside from that, it looks like it was built right into the natural surroundings, which makes it so much more beautiful and welcoming.  Visitors feel like they are at an expensive resort, which is just what Thornton always wanted.


The Neighborhood Water Park

The Thornton pool is not just for the Thorntons, though. The family happily welcomes their neighbors and visitors to enjoy the pool as well. Micky is a community-minded individual and loves sharing his creation with others in the area.  

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People have offered to pay Thornton to visit the pool, so he asks for a small donation in exchange for a swim.


Always Packed With Swimmers

People seem to enjoy making a donation to use the fabulous Thornton pool. After all, fancy water parks charge up to $50 tor an entrance fee. It is very generous of the Thorntons to open their pool up to strangers.

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Despite the shift to a paying model, the Thorntons have never been short of visitors to their part of Tennessee. Anyone can arrange a visit, including large groups of people. The Thorntons even have a Facebook page where visitors can make reservations.


A Famous Vacation Spot

In recent years, with the fame of the pool spreading, the couple has hosted birthday parties, weddings, group retreats, and other events. With such a gorgeous setting and a pool big enough for a large group, the spot is ideal. 

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Micky’s family even hosted the Japanese national baseball team, who were in the area and stopped by for a swim and a snack. Now that the word is out via social media, more visitors come after seeing the posts and getting recommendations from their friends.


Baptisms, Too

In a completely unexpected but beautiful twist, people have asked if they can hold baptisms at the Thorntons’ pool. The family was more than happy to oblige. This was not something Micky envisioned when he was ten years old!  

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Thornton says, “Of the different churches, there have been over 400 people baptized in the pool, which is something I think is kind of neat,” he said. 

Who could have imagined that this dream of a backyard pool would gain so much popularity and make so many people happy?