II was a little nervous when we first started accepting entries for the 2010 Masters of Design issue.

Frequently, in past years, I’d be chatting with a builder on the phone and he or she would describe a new, particularly cool pool or spa they were working on. Those conversations always made me excited to be part of this industry, and inevitably, I’d say, “Hey, you should enter that project into the Masters of Design.”

But lately those conversations have changed. Instead of enthusiastically discussing the artistry of their profession, the builders usually are more focused on their businesses. And with good reason. This economy has devastated many markets, and everyone’s numbers are soft, even in areas that remained a bit stronger.

When we put out the call for entries, I was understandably concerned that industry members wouldn’t respond as they had in prior years.

I was wrong.

Not only are the 2010 winners among the best designs we’ve ever published, but we actually received a record number of entries.

This selection of concrete, fiberglass and package pools, spas, and waterfeatures all showcase great use of materials, innovative design and original ideas that make these projects stand out above the rest. And, in a slight change of pace, this year we allowed more room for photos and published fewer words (always hard for an editor) to give a better sense of each project from multiple angles.

So sit back, prop up your feet, and enjoy some of the very finest designs our industry has to offer.