The Ottawa Citizen: Against the Current
Liba and Paul Straznicky like to go against the current. They bought an indoor pool that lets them do just that.
Their pool generates its own current and, in turn, generates a no-fuss exercise routine for the Mooney's Bay Area couple.
Mr. Straznicky is a professor in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Carleton University. His wife, Liba, is an accountant. Both in their 50s, the couple bike and ski, but they wanted more regular exercise without traveling too far from home. The indoor pool with the current was the answer.
Mr. Straznicky uses the pool as many mornings as he can, maybe 20 minutes at a time. His wife is almost as keen. The current in the pool creates resistance and that means a tough workout. The couple had an outdoor pool, but most of the time it was simply a convenient place to cool off.
"I never would swim too many lengths," he says. "I would swim two lengths and then would just lounge in the pool, as most people do. Now we feel, at times, particularly when it's hot, we use it [the Endless Pool] for recreation as well.
"However, what has changed is that now both of us have gotten into the habit of actually exercising."
Meanwhile, the outdoor pool had to go.
In 1999, the Straznickys dismantled and eliminated all trace of the pool, including its 32-foot by 16-foot walls. Then they added an extra room to their house to accommodate the new indoor pool. The addition measures 23 feet by 16 feet. The pool measures 16 feet by 8 feet and is 3½ feet deep. The total outlay was $85,000.
Spending this hefty amount was a well-researched five-year project. The couple settled on a pool from Endless Pools in Aston, Pennsylvania.
What's amazing is the look of the pool. It's compact and freestanding. It sits about one foot above a tiled floor and tiles line the walls of the swimming pool.
"We decided to consciously have it a little bit higher because it's easier to get in and get out," says Mr. Straznicky.
Overall, the pool doesn't appear much different than a regular pool. One obvious difference is a stainless steel-covered block which rests in the middle at one end. The block houses a propeller that produces the current. The current is manually adjustable from a slow ripple for a beginner to a fairly energetic swirl for an expert.
A stainless steel seating shelf runs around the bottom of the pool - a good spot for those tired by the current. The main purpose of the shelf is to allow water to return to the propeller; a back wall of the shelf is perforated for that purpose.
Visitors repeatedly ask about humidity. An electric heater keeps the water temperature at 26°C. (The temperature is adjustable.) The brick walls contain many windows as well as a large glass sliding door which leads to the outdoor patio. Mr. Straznicky says even with so many contributors to humidity present, it's not a problem. The major reason is a floating thermal blanket which traps the heat when the pool is not in use. In the winter, condensation builds somewhat on windows. Then the Straznickys use a portable dehumidifier.
"As soon as we finish swimming and close the cover, within maybe another half hour or so, the majority of the condensation is gone," he adds.
Another question is pool maintenance. Obviously, indoor debris accumulation is minimal. The pool comes with a filtration system. Each evening, Mr. Straznicky adds one tablespoon of chlorine to the water.
Should the couple decide to move the pool, it can easily be dismantled and moved to say a garage, basement or outside location. The Straznickys assembled the pool themselves. The steel walls connect with bolts. The swimming pool sits on a concrete floor and is fitted with a vinyl liner.
Ultimately, it's the effectiveness of the current that decides how useful this swimming pool really is. "I'm a reasonably good swimmer and I'm still nowhere being able to swim and stay in one place at top speed," Mr. Straznicky says. "it just pushes me back to the wall."