This Paralympic Swimmer Trained at Home in Trying Times
Canadian Patrick Waters Kept on Track for Tokyo 2021 with Endless Pools®
The pandemic impacted all of us in inconvenient, even tragic ways. For Paralympic swimmer Patrick Waters, it threatened to derail the dream he’d been working towards for years. “When Covid hit, I had to adapt and be responsive if I wanted to meet these goals,” specifically swimming for Team Canada at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics.
Pool closures limited, and at times halted, his swimming training. “My coach is always saying, ‘We need to make the best choice the easy choice,’” he says philosophically, “and that’s what Endless Pools does for me.”
Patrick set up a swimming pool by Endless Pools in his backyard. “In the last year, it has been great on so many levels. I’m training seven to nine sessions a week. To know that I have the pool 10 steps away in my backyard, it just makes the work easier.”
Our signature current lets Patrick swim in place to train, build endurance, and refine his stroke. After months of working with the Endless Pools current, he says confidently, “It’s a great product.”
A Dire Diagnosis
“I was that kid who had endless energy and parents who needed to find a way to keep me from bouncing less,” Patrick recalls. It’s why he started swimming at age five. “Water has been an incredible constant for me.
“I knew that I had some [congenital] issues with my hip and back that were getting progressively worse.” The turning point, he recalls, came when his doctor told him, “‘I think your competition days are complete.’ That was really tough.”
But unlike many other sports, swimming is low impact. “I’m not a runner by default,” Patrick observes. “After a handful of surgeries, I found myself back in the pool.” Since then, he’s been “competing in Parasports for the last eight years.”
Swimming with a Disability
“The best thing I can do right now is stay active and fit,” Patrick has found. Swimming, in particular, “is great for me.”
He first discovered the versatility and convenience of Endless Pools’ products while studying Exercise Science and Nutrition. “Metabolic testing in swimming is quite challenging,” he notes. “The advantage of Endless Pools is that you can do metabolic testing in a stationary environment.”
As he was using the pool for his degree, he recalls thinking, “I’d love to get one of those! You guys just have a great line of products.”
The Road to Tokyo
“To be able to go out my back door and just be able to do the work and not worry about anyone swimming in my lane,” as happens at a public pool, “I can just focus on important things,” Patrick says.
“The number one thing is trying to minimize the amount of front drag,” and to that end, he uses video analysis and Endless Pools’ underwater mirror. Both of these tools are made possible by swimming in place, against our adjustable current. The current has other benefits too, he’s discovered.
“A current going by you gives you a sense of reducing drag that you don’t get in [still] water. You can make small adjustments to head position, for example, and you can actually notice the difference of where this water is going as its coming past you.
“My training is a polarized plan – lots of low-intensity sessions with some very high-intensity stuff.” Has he seen improvements since training with the Endless Pools current? “Yes, absolutely,” he asserts. “At my higher-end speed, I have a higher velocity and distance per stroke.”
On the low end, Patrick does what’s called Zone-2 training. Those are longer, slower sessions designed to improve endurance and aerobic fitness. “My pace of Zone 2 has improved as well, and that’s for pull work, kick work and full swim.”
Patrick Waters (center) trains for his breaststroke competitions. He also teaches kids to swim (left) and coaches Div.1 triathletes (right) in his Endless Pools backyard pool.
Welcoming Clients to the Pool
Besides being an Exercise Physiologist, Patrick is also a certified coach both for swimming and for strength and conditioning. In those fields, he notes, “Aquatic exercise and rehabilitation is huge for us.
“We know that if we can get people active, especially with joint replacement, we see way better outcomes because we can get some of the muscle engagement without weight-bearing activity. It’s comparable to them moving as if they’re in a weightless environment.”
During the pandemic, he’s been doing some of this work in the Endless Pools environment. “Necessary Covid protocols are in place, [and] it’s more private than any of our public pool facilities.
“I coach triathlon,” he adds. “I have Ironman triathletes that are coming in there. And we can really focus on what paces look like. If we want to focus on technical change, we can do it really quickly and efficiently with Endless Pools.”
Looking Ahead to Tokyo
Unlike other years, Canada will not have Olympic swim trials preceding the Tokyo Games. “Our trials have been cancelled,” he notes, “so were moving into nomination criteria. The beauty for me is that I’ve had a pool to swim in the whole time. A lot of my teammates haven’t.
“They’re going to ask, ‘How consistent have you been with your training?’” Thanks to his Endless Pools backyard set-up, Patrick will be able to say, “‘Here are the stats from my heart-rate monitor.’ I feel really positive!
“I’m in the best condition of my life. I’m 35, so I’m on the older end of swimming. The way I see it, I’m still having a great time, and I’m still going faster. The age is simply a number. That’s the beauty of this sport: People can stay in it for a long time.”
For Patrick Waters, it seems, he’ll be in it to win it at least through this summer’s Paralympic Games. The event will be held August 24 through September 5, 2021.