Endless Pool Rehab Vaults Brownlee to Olympic Triathlon Gold
"As soon as I started using the Endless Pool, my Achilles stopped getting stiff. That was a massive, massive benefit."
From an Achilles tendon tear in February to Olympic Gold in August — that’s the road British triathlete Alistair Brownlee traveled in 2012.
Without the Endless Pool he installed in his garden, Brownlee may not have set foot at the top of the podium in London.
Brownlee, the premier triathlete in the world, knew he had to think outside the box in order to get up to speed in time for the biggest race of his life after his potentially devastating setback.
"When I tore my Achilles, I thought ‘I’m going to have to do something special to get myself in shape as quickly as I can,' said Brownlee. “I was doing aqua jogging in a public pool in public sessions with kids jumping on my head. I was thinking: 'This is ridiculous, I'm going to the Olympics in six months!' So I decided to get a pool of my own and put it in the garden."
After Brownlee’s friends assisted with preparation and installation, the triathlete got to work inside his Endless Pool.
Brownlee’s physiotherapist, Emma Deakin, had him train on the pool’s underwater hydraulic treadmill, which provided the benefits of a cardiovascular workout in a non-impact environment.
“His coach, Malcolm Brown, and I discussed the most effective way of getting him running again—to gradually increase the load whilst reducing the risk of loading up his Achilles. There were various options and he is now using an underwater treadmill—it’s an impressive piece of kit,” Deakin said at the time.
“I spent three weeks in a cast and another week when I couldn't ride a bike. So it was a month without cycling. The pool made a huge difference," said Brownlee.
In fact, the benefits of the Endless Pool were so great that Deakin had Brownlee continue his aquatic training in conjunction with his normal running right up until the Olympics, due to the ‘massive recovery effect’ that the water offered.
When it came time to race, Alistair showed no ill effect from his injury during the most stressful part of the triathlon for his Achilles—the run. Six months removed from his grave injury, Brownlee captured the lead after the first lap and never looked back.
Alistair crossed the finish line first to earn his country gold, completing the race just over 30 seconds faster than his brother and training partner, Jonathan, who earned bronze.
Thanks to a relentless work ethic and the unique benefits offered by the Endless Pool, the homeland hero was able to capture the glory that otherwise may have escaped him.