Razorbacks Coach Harper Learns the Perks of Being "Elite"
"'Will you come and watch my stroke?'" That's what Head Coach Neil Harper reports hearing from the women of the Razorbacks swim team. It's his first season at the University of Arkansas, and among other new experiences, he's getting used to swimmers who want to refine their technique in the Elite Endless Pool.
"It's taken me a little to get used to," he acknowledges. Already, though, he's seen that "it's definitely been a big benefit for us."
"The best way we utilize the Endless Pool is obviously one on one," he observes. "The women just like to watch their technique and pull underwater."
In their Elite Endless Pool, the Razorbacks work on "recovery with the mirror and really work on some self-awareness; it's been a benefit there.
"If you stand alongside the Endless Pool, you can actually touch the swimmer," he observes. "As they're [working on their] breathing, you're not a stick figure at the side of the pool. The communication is better.
"Whenever you need, you don't need to clear a lane. You can be real close to them. It's been very helpful."
The Most Common Errors
Coach Harper, who brings 23 years of collegiate coaching experience to Fayetteville, reports that he uses the Endless Pool most often to correct breaststroke timing and freestyle hand-entry.
"One of our women, her head was too high. We turned [the swim current] off, moved her one arm," which would be a challenge in their eight-lane pool. In their Elite, though, Harper could easily and quickly get "hands-on to move her shoulder."
Calling it a "good tool for instant feedback," Harper and his team also use the slightly delayed feedback of underwater video, which is much easier when the women are swimming in place. "We are able to video very close-up so … you can see if what you see is what you feel."
Having a compact, warm-water Endless Pool offers additional benefits for aquatic rehabilitation. For one swimmer recovering from shoulder surgery, Harper notes, "She's been able to be in there and kick and do some range of motion stuff."
Coach Harper, a two-time Olympian for his native Great Britain, has even used it himself. "I actually flipped over and watched my backstroke" in Endless Pools' overhead mirror.
Ultimately, Harper sees the Elite Endless Pool as another tool to meet "our goal … to make each individual better and overall the team better."