An Open Water Swimmer Takes an Endless Pool for a "Test Drive"
Today I got to go try out an Endless Pool for the first time, and I have to say I’m a fan. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about swimming in a 10' x 16' box, but once you figure out the current and get into a rhythm, it’s pretty nice.
The people over at Endless Pools set me up with a couple in Santa Maria who have a really nice in ground set up in their backyard. After a little schedule wrangling on the phone a couple weeks ago, we found a day that worked for everybody, and I anxiously awaited my chance to show up at a stranger’s house to go play in their pool :) I was greeted by Justin, and he gave me the grand tour.
After telling me a little about it, showing me how things work, and answering a few of my questions, I hopped in to go see for myself what it was all about. The current turned on with a push of a button, and the water started moving. I was surprised at how quiet it was. Don’t get me wrong: it makes noise but no where near what I would have expected; my arms splashing in the water were probably louder than the machinery. The pool was set to a moderate pace, and just standing in the way of the current, it pushed me slowly towards the back of the pool and then sideways.
Once I got to swimming, it took me a little bit to figure out how to pace my stroke to match the current. Swim too fast and you’re going over the handle bars; too slow and you’re going to end up back on the wall. Once I had it timed, I really liked it. I could see myself spending long periods of time training at a current-imposed pace.
The other thing I really liked was the mirror towards the front of the unit pointed up at a 45 degree angle so you can watch yourself swim. This was good for me for a few reasons. First off, I’m notorious for having too high of a head position… that 80′s-90′s style eyes-forward freestyle is majorly ingrained in my system. With this, I have something to look at -- me! Haha! Seriously though, watching my stroke brings the head down and puts me in a better body position overall.
While my eyes are down there I can really scrutinize the underwater portion of my stroke. Since I do most of my swimming without a coach on deck, this is super helpful for me.
After getting settled in with freestyle, I tried out some butterfly and breaststroke. Both went pretty well. I especially liked breaststroking in it. The moving water really emphasizes that glide portion of your stroke. I skipped backstroking though… I don’t really like to do it, and I didn’t want to swim head first into the top of the pool.
I asked Justin if we could test out the top end of the pool… strictly in the name of science of course. I wanted to know how fast it would go. It’s fair to say it’ll get moving! It wasn’t so fast that I couldn’t keep up with it, but it was fast enough that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the pace for an extended period of time. Apparently there are versions out there that are substantially more powerful; I have a feeling that they would plaster me to the back wall but would be a good time for those of you way faster than I am.
Personally I would love one of these in the backyard… but I would need a backyard and a house first! I think I’d have some explaining to do to my landlord if they found one of these in the garage of my townhouse! I can see this being an excellent long distance training tool, or a great place to work technique, but I’m not sure that the sprinter set would get particularly excited about it though. If you want to learn more for yourself or set up a “test drive,” go check out EndlessPools.com; they’re nice folks and can get you started.
Just to cap things off, here’s a little snippet of video taken by my host Justin. As it turns out me swimming in place isn’t particularly riveting, but it gives you a good idea of how this thing works!