Jay Learns to Swim … for His First Triathlon

How the Endless Pools® environment helped him focus and learn.

“I knew how to swim across the pool for a beer,” Jay Stillman notes dryly. That, of course, was before … before he went to ProSwim Fitness, before he trained in their Endless Pools Dual Propulsion pool, and before he completed his first triathlon just three months later.

“My sister is my inspiration,” he says appreciatively. “She’s doing an IRONMAN at 54.” His family has always been close, but with her in Florida and him in New Jersey, a little more effort has been required.

Jay Stillman (front) had just three months to learn to swim for his first triathlon. Here, he's training in the Dual Propulsion Endless Pool at ProSwim Fitness. “I’m more comfortable in the Endless Pool because I can focus," he says. "You’re not thinking about turning around or looking at a line.” He's come to enjoy swimming in general because, unlike other endurance exercises, "my body never hurts when I'm done!"

So he agreed to join her for a triathlon in her adopted hometown of Naples. “I’ve always been a runner,” he notes, and he’d been training with his road bike for about a year; but like many triathletes, he considers the swim his weakest leg.

That’s why he turned to Patti Ann Finch and the team at ProSwim Fitnessto learn to swim, to build the stamina to do it long distance, and accomplish that very quickly.

Training in the Endless Pool

“I needed to go to the basics,” Jay says matter-of-factly. “The Endless Pool has helped. It gives you that feeling of water coming at you.” That’s a common sentiment among triathletes: The Endless Pool offers the best available open-water simulation.

“I’m more comfortable in the Endless Pool because I can focus. You just go. You’re not thinking about turning around or looking at a line.”

Jay approached his swimming lessons with a mix of caution and determination. “For adults, it is intimidating,” he admits. “It’s very hard to learn swimming when you’re older. But it’s doable.

“There’s no question: You can learn to swim. All adults should have swimming as an option to exercise. My body never hurts when I’m done! It’s great.”

The Big Day in Naples

On the day of the Naples triathlon, Jay recalls, “I felt prepared. We ran in [to the Gulf] and then everybody’s kicking. It was chaos.”

“It was a rough swim,” Jay admits. “It was raining with three-foot waves.” Assessing his swimming performance, he says plainly, “It wasn’t pretty. I did every stroke possible. But I got through it. That was my goal.” He finished the quarter-mile swim in about 40 minutes.

With a resilience that bodes well for a budding endurance athlete, he took that tumultuous swim as “a learning experience. I’ve only gotten better,” he says proudly.

Training for his 2016 Season

“I continue to improve every time I get in the Endless Pool,” Jay enthuses. “I did 1,200 yards the other day, which for me is great.”

On his 2016 calendar, he has a spring sprint, an Olympic distance in July, and farther from home, IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina this October.

“I think I’ll get there. I’m convinced I will.” Given that his strategy and attitude have worked so far, we’re convinced he will too.

Training, Swimming
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