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WWW.SLOWTWITCH.COM: Endless Pool

A Great Training Tool
A Great Training Tool

You can't predict what it's going to be like to swim in an Endless Pool. Well, you can predict the feeling, more or less, but not the entire range of sensations. The first thing I noticed about the pool that I swam in, for example, was a mirror on the bottom. For the first time I could actually see my own stroke at work. Forget the underwater camera. This not only replaces the camera, it's real time, so I can make changes to my stroke and immediately experience the results.

The one big overarching difference about this versus a standard pool is that everything occurs against the backdrop of time and pace, not of distance. In a standard pool I'll swim, let us say, ten times 100 meters, and repeat them on, say, 1:30. Not in an Endless Pool. What's 100 meters? There's is no way to know. There's no flow meter. There's just a pressure gauge. You determine the flow rate via turning up the juice on the pump. If you wanted to swim intervals, then you might just swim for eighty seconds, let us say, and go again on the 1:30. As is the case with a regular pool, there's nothing stopping you from putting a pool clock next to an Endless Pool, and if I owned one that's the first thing I'd do.

Back to my standard pool analogy, if I was doing 100 meter repeats, I'd apportion my effort during the 100 meters however I thought proper. In reality, I suppose I swim particularly fast in the first 25 meters and I say this because when you start swimming in an Endless Pool you find it very easy, and then it gets much tougher as the minutes roll by. You quickly learn that you can't swim via perceived exertion in this thing, you're forced to swim a constant pace. If I was to swim a straight 500 meters in a standard pool I'd get feedback every 50 yards or 100 meters , depending on the pool and its lane configuration, because that's the interval in which I'd get to once again see the clock. In the Endless Pool if your pace starts to fall, it's quickly apparent.

You don't have to stop the pool when you rest. Sitting or standing in an Endless Pool between swim sessions is like being in a spa. Lots of water rushing around you, but you're not getting sucked or moved around. When you want to swim again, you just start swimming.

It's plenty big enough. It's quite wide, and I understand that there are actually two-person models, with side by side propulsion units that can be set at different speeds, so the husband can swim alongside his wife even though he can't normally go as fast. As for length, there's several feet fore and aft of you, so if you slow down or speed up you've got some room before you bump up against anything.

I said a bit further up that there is no flow meter on an Endless Pool. I should say that there was no flow meter on the one which I tried. Endless Pools does offer one. Its Digital Swim Meter "is designed to provide serious swimmers a means of measuring distance swum in meters or miles, speed or pace in meters per second or miles per hour, and the total distance traveled in 25 or 50 meter lap lengths."

Let's say you decide to get one of these. They come in a variety of depths, up to six feet. I demo'd a fairly deep pool. I'd get a deep one, myself, because I and my wife both find the need for water therapy from time to time--running in the pool without touching the bottom, like, with an AquaJogger or similar device.

The pool has a filtration system and heater (pictured at left), just like any pool, and of course its propulsion unit. It's therefore got a pair of electric motors, a smaller one for the filtration pump, and a larger one--about 5hp--for the propulsion system. It requires 220v, and I'm guessing perhaps a 30 amp breaker. Maybe a little larger. An electrician, or a handyman triathlete, could add this to your panel in about an hour.

Then there's the heater (the thing on the lower right-hand side of the photo). The one for the Endless Pool I visited worked on gas. The pool had a retractable cover, and the owner said he (automatically) ran the filter and the heater for two hours twice a day.

Kenny Glah and Jan Wanklyn have one of these pools. They've got a StarTrac treadmill and a Computrainer as well. All down in their basement. They can do an Ironman down there. Longtime triathletes hate racing Glah in the early season. He emerges from his stealth basement like an axe murderer--not having been seen by any living soul (save his family) for three months--fit as a fiddle and ornery from cabin fever. "He does so much training down in that basement," says Tinley, "you could mine salt down there." I mention this only because it ought not be assumed that stationary training is second-class training. Boring, perhaps, but not substandard.

One thing abut an Endless Pool: As opposed to swimming or cycling it's probably not appreciably more or less boring than its "real world" analog. Let's face it, whether you're swimming in a standard pool or an Endless Pool, there's not a lot to look at down there. At least in an Endless Pool you can look at your stroke if you want.

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Swim whenever you like on your own schedule at your own perfect pace. No traveling, no crowded pools, no heavy chlorine. Just your own precision engineered swimming pool,where you swim or exercise against a smooth current that's fully adjustable to any speed or ability. Our swimming pools are simple to install, easy to maintain, and economical to run.

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