Tracy Sharp is on Her Way to Swimming “Perfection”

“I absolutely hated swimming,” recalls Tracy Sharp. And it’s no wonder: when she first started sprint triathlons about three years ago, “I could swim a length and be gasping for air.” Then she started training with Coach Mary Hardwick in the Original Endless Pool® at Inspire2Tri studio. With progress came comfort … and even some enjoyment!

The video below documents that progress, contrasting Tracy’s stroke last February with her stroke in December. “Even I was amazed!” she says now; “I’ve come a long way.” When first shown the video by Coach Hardwick, Tracy recounts, “I said, ‘Was I really that bad?’ She said, ‘No, you’re that good!’”

This video documents swimmer Tracy Sharp’s development, from February to December 2014, in the Endless Pool at Inspire2Tri training studio. Coach Mary Hardwick points out four significant areas of improvement: body position, rotation and extension, catch and pull “with ‘feel’ for the water,” and timing/rhythm. Mary concedes that Tracy’s technique is a “work in progress still, but what progress!”

For her swim progress, Tracy gives “thanks to the Endless Pool. It’s just fantastic!” The adjustable-speed current keeps each swim just challenging enough, even as she gets stronger and faster. And as seen here, the video technology lets swimmers fine-tune their stroke (and see progress over time!). Plus, the water in the Endless Pool is always “just the right temperature,” which is a far cry from your run-of-the-mill cold-water pool. “I’d be lost without the Endless Pool ... It’s heaven-sent!”

Tracy also has high praise for Coach Hardwick. “Mary talks to you as an individual, and the coaching is aimed purely at what that person needs to improve their technique. She doesn’t bombard you,” instead focusing on just two or three areas at any one time for steady, incremental progress. “I finally got myself level on the water,” Tracy says proudly, and the video confirms that advancement. Up next: “just to work on my arms – that’s my mission for the next six weeks.”

Tracy works full-time at a Lincolnshire medical practice. “Sometimes, it is difficult to fit all the training in, but when you see improvements like this, it makes it all worthwhile.” Other accomplishments for the year include her first open water swim and the Big Charity Swim, co-organized by Inspire2Tri.

All of that progress brought some significant shifts in Tracy’s mental attitude. For one, she actually began to enjoy herself! When required to swim as a schoolgirl, “I thought it was so boring. I dreaded it.” In her early triathlon swims, people would often volunteer words of comfort at swim start; “I must’ve had a look of fear on my face!” she deduces. That’s all changed. Swimming is now “coming up as my favorite of the three disciplines” of triathlon, she notes with a surprised tone; “people who’ve known me wouldn’t have thought I’d say that in a million years.”

open water swimmer and Endless Pools trainee Tracy Sharp
Tracy completed her first open water triathlon swim in 2014. “I was so happy I got round, I didn't care about anything else!!” But after making significant strides since then, she’s doesn’t expect to be lagging behind other swimmers for long. “By the end of next season, I’m thinking I’m going to catch them.” Photo by F/Stop Event Photography.

Her swim progress has also boosted her confidence. She still marvels that “I can achieve such a huge challenge. You think in your mind, ‘Well, if I’ve done that, I can do anything I put my mind to. Yes, give it a go!’”

Indeed, her ambition has grown. This May, she plans to graduate from sprints to the Outlaw Half Triathlon, benefiting Cancer Research UK. “I should have a decent stroke by then,” she projects.

Further down the road, she envisions being better than “decent.” A year from now, “I’d like it to be perfection,” she says with a laugh. “I finally got myself level on the water. I’m hoping to be flying” by year's end. While she’s used to lagging behind the stronger swimmers in the draft, “by the end of next season, I’m thinking I’m going to catch them.”

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