This Cliffside Pool is 9,035 Feet Above Sea Level
How Jim Built and Trains in a Pool with a View
"I wouldn’t want to swim in the basement when I can swim with that view!" Jim enthuses, and it's hard to argue with that. His Endless Pools® Performance model could have been installed in existing indoor spaces. However, when your summer home is in the Rocky Mountain foothills, the vista speaks for itself.
Jim selected the Performance pool as a step up from our Original pool. "Before I retired from competitive swimming," he recalls, "I swam a sub-50 [seconds] for the 100 [yards]." The Performance current maxes out at a 1:08 per 100-yard pace, and it's also wider, deeper, and smoother than our Original current.
"Just under four minutes is a comfortable pace for my wife, and I'm right around two minutes for the 100." He's also training as an age-group triathlete; "getting to 1:30 for my IRONMAN would be great, and the Performance pool is sufficient for that."
Because he's six foot, three inches, Jim opted for a 48-inch depth pool, a six-inch increase from our standard 42. "I found that, in the shallower pool, my fingers scraped the bottom, and the extra few inches were enough. And I rotate, so my stroke is inline under my body!"
Installing a Pool in the Mountains
Since Jim's Performance pool needed to be done in stages around other work, he says, "It turned out best for me to do the install myself. We had a landscape company do a water feature, fire pit, stairs, path, patio, and gabions to provide a fence on the cliffside of the house. The patio floor for the swimming pool was the final thing.
"They put in gabions to build up the area that was the downhill side of our yard. Then they poured concrete over that and put in a drain for me. At that point, I put in the steel walls [of the Performance pool], and they built concrete walls around the steel walls and provided coping for us. Over the concrete wall, they veneered faux stone to mirror what we have on the house."
To assemble the pool himself, Jim used our step-by-step print and video manuals. "The instructions were really good," he found. "The [only] difficulties were in my poor plumbing skills." Fortunately, he was able to use Endless Pools' free Customer Service hotline on the two occasions he had plumbing questions. By calling our representatives, he recalls, "It was pretty easy to fix."
We recommend a professional electrician for the necessary hookups. As Jim reports, "My dad worked his way up from an apprentice to managing an electric coop. Electrical work is something I did as a teenager with him." But his electrical duties for his pool stopped at laying the conduit; "the part I don’t do anymore is dig holes," he notes with a laugh.
So how much of Jim's swim training is done in his Performance pool now? "All of it," he says plainly. "We summer here in the mountains, and it’s a 45-minute one-way [from] here to the [public] pool. That's what I used to do before we put the [Performance] pool in."
He uses our swim mirrors for real-time feedback on his swimming technique. "They're great for watching form. It's super. When I'm doing my form drills, I typically put on an inline snorkel, so breathing goes out of the equation and I can focus on form.
"Because I was a high school and college competitive swimmer, drills are not particularly helpful right now. It's basically maintenance and getting back to where I was, mostly just getting in and doing long swims." To that end, he uses the Endless Pools Fit@Home app to challenge himself with pre-programmed interval sets.
His backyard pool also lets him train for triathlon transitions. "I can hop out of the pool and get on my bike and ride in the mountains. It's gravel roads here, so I use a hybrid [bicycle] and work on my strength.
"I'm feeling confident that I'll be ready for the next season now that the pool is up and running."
A Pool for the Whole Family
As he mentioned, Jim's wife also uses their Endless Pools model. "She's a fitness swimmer," he notes. "She'll get in because she likes swimming. When it's warmer, twice a week" is her usual schedule. Warmer is relative at their elevation. "We had eight inches of snow just after Labor Day weekend," he points out.
"When the grandkids were here last year – because of COVID, they haven't visited [this year] – we cranked the heat up to 84 and got in and swam. Most of them are 3 and 4 years old," which is a great age to start properly supervised swim lessons. And when you can learn a lifetime of water-safety and fitness skills with a view that grand, all the better!