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“It’s one of the things on my bucket list” Rod S. explains, and it’s the only explanation needed. Three years ago, he’d never entered a triathlon. This year, he’s registered for his first full-length IRONMAN®, a grueling 140.6 miles. Lucky for him, his training for the 2.4-mile swim leg just got easier: he’s the winner of last year’s Endless Pools Fastlane® Sweepstakes.
“Until the Endless Pool, it had been two days a week,” which was all the lane access that he and his triathlon club could get at their municipal rec center, and that was just a 50m pool. “You hit the end of the wall, have to turn around; it seems like you get six or seven strokes in, and you’re ready to flip and head back.”
The Fastlane swim-current generator is a big step forward, in his assessment. “It is the best thing to simulate the open water swimming experience. You have the current pulling against you that you really have to work against, which doesn’t allow you to slack off.
“I’m able to just get in the stream and work on form, work on technique, and have that invaluable experience where you just can sit there for 45 minutes to an hour working on your stroke. You can change your hand angle, your arm angle – you can work on moving your head down a little more, see how that brings the legs up – really fine-tune that body position that you just can’t get, even with the longer 50m format at the Rec Center.”
He’d previously trained against a jetted current, but that had its limitations. “You have three choices: one pump, two pumps or three pumps. You don’t have any real variability.” By contrast, the Fastlane has 52 speed settings.
“With the Fastlane, you can pick a pace. It gives you a lot more options as far as controlling the speed to do interval training. Most triathlon training plans don’t want you to do just an hour at one speed. They want you to do some warm-ups, then some interval drilling. So it’s got enormous flexibility.
“So let’s say today I want to work on more fast drills; you can just turn it up. Right now, I’m working down from about 1:50 [per 100-yard pace], so if I want to do some more sprints, I can turn it to 1:30 for 10 minutes, then do a rest up, then turn it back to 2:00.”
These days, Rod wakes at 4:00 am, seven days a week, to train for his ambitious schedule of up to six triathlons a year, including at least three 70.3s. Having installed the Fastlane in his existing freeform pool, he’s turned it from a backyard fun center into a convenient training pool.
“As far as endurance, just being able to get in the pool more often – even if it’s just a half hour after work – makes a big difference. Just being able to get your body used to that kind of workout, as well as doing two workouts a day – cycling in the morning, swimming in the evening – that helps quite a bit.”
While he’s currently training through an injury (“just old dude stuff,” the 44 year old insists), the Fastlane has actually helped. “With the swimming specifically, I have a lot less lower back pain. I think it’s helped strengthen the overall core a lot better. … For me, that’s been the one real benefit to swimming: it’s been key to minimizing lower-back injury pain.”
Of course, with a full IRONMAN on the horizon, he’s aware that some degree of pain – the kind that rhymes with “gain” – is a fact of life for him. “140.6 baby! How much pain can you possibly pack into one fun day?” he says with a laugh. “Everybody I know thinks I’m crazy. That’s ok. It’s on my bucket list.”
Given his determination, he’ll probably cross it off the list come December.