A Retired Runner Turns to Aquabike
Through knee pain and winter snow, Vanda keeps swimming and biking.
"When the doc says absolutely no more running, what do you do? Swim more!" That's from Vanda, a USA Triathlon age-group athlete who can clearly turn lemons into lemonade.
Her positive attitude led her to bring an Endless Pools® Original model to her ranch. A 2007 model, her Original pool remains reliable for uninterrupted swims with at-home convenience. Her pool serves her for multisport training, aquatic therapy, and as a place of community for her nearest and dearest training partners.
Swimming on Demand
Vanda can swim anytime, day or night. "I open the door and take about 10 steps out of my back bedroom door, and I'm in the pool! I can get in it and swim for 30 or 40 minutes just to loosen up in the morning when I first get out of bed."
She relishes "being able to swim in the dark and not feel a threat or a danger" since she's so close to home on her own acreage. "It's incredible! During Covid, oh my goodness, it was a lifesaver."
Before Covid, and before she created her Endless Pools deck, swimming was a chore. "The nearest pool is about a 40-minute drive one way. If you have a swim set that’s an hour, hour-and-a-half long, and toss that in with another 80 minutes of driving – It really cuts into your day."
Now that her backyard pool has removed Vanda's scheduling headaches, she says, "It’s a lifesaver for me for time and efficiency."
A History of Knee Pain
When Vanda's doctor advised that she stop running, he was aware that she had other options for healthy activity. "He knows that I swim and bike a lot," she says. "He flat-out told me, 'You can swim as much as you want, and you can ride as much as you want.'
"When I was 15, I tore my ACL – completely ripped it in half – and had to have a complete reconstruction," Vanda recalls. "I'll be 49 next week, and I've had four knee surgeries from 15 to now. I've torn my meniscus in that knee, and there's a lot of arthritis in it." She also suffers from plantar fasciitis, the painful, increasingly common foot inflammation.
Her doctor is trying to forestall a knee replacement as long as reasonably possible. "They generally only last about 20 years. At my age, I'd have to get another one.
"There are days when you think, 'Oh gosh, I wish I could go for a run.' But the backside of that is [that] it's not worth it, because then I'm limping around or on crutches for a long time after that. That's ok – I can swim and ride more. Once I got the pool, I could swim anytime I wanted to."
Triathlon, Minus the Run
As a member of USA Triathlon, Vanda qualified for the 2019 Pontevedra ITU Aquabike World Championships. That's the swim and bike legs of a triathlon, without the run.
"I killed the swim!" she says matter-of-factly. It was a challenging three kilometers in the Lérez River. "Later, people were saying, 'Oh my gosh, the swim! It was horrible. Swimming up-river.' They were just having a fit about swimming upstream.
"I said, 'What are you talking about? I didn't notice it at all.' Well, I swim into a current every day, so it was not an issue for me. It was a super advantage for me." She realized what other open water swimmers have discovered: the Endless Pools current delivers a remarkable simulation of real open water conditions.
A Community of Swimmers
Creating Vanda's Endless Pools deck was a community affair. "Our neighbor has a backhoe, so he did the excavation for us. My husband put [the pool] together, and he build the deck. It was done right, and it's fabulous!"
Her friend, David, who also trains for multisport competitions, "helped us put a concrete pad down. I told him, 'You can use it anytime since you helped with the concrete work.'"
Now, David "does transition training out of here all the time. He will jump out of the pool and take off running up the driveway and down the road."
Between Vanda, David, and other friends into multisport, the pool "gets a lot of use," she says. When telling her friends about her Original pool, "I just call it 'the EP.' I tell them, 'The EP is always open.' A lot of them will come over and swim" For the competitive edge, therapy, and community that her pool brings her, Vanda says, "It's so awesome! I love it."