Tri247's triathlon novice, Andy Tomlinson, reports on his first session in an Endless pool - something he would now recommend to anyone. Here is his report.
Having just started on the road to triathlon training and wanting to get some expert guidance in all aspects of my training and technique I was given the opportunity to try out the Endless pool facility at Manchester's TriCentral triathlon store located right next to the Trafford Centre.
The TriCentral Endless Pool is the only one of its kind to be found in the North West of England and is perfect for those who are in need of a spot of technique coaching from beginner upwards. It's perfect for triathletes of all abilities looking to improve their front crawl or for club swimmers seeking analysis and improvement on all four strokes.
Andy in the Endless Pool
Their coaches are all qualified to BTF Level 3 and/or ASA Level 3 standards, which filled me with confidence.
Its integrated four camera video system provides simultaneous images from above and below the water that can be reviewed in real time or stored for later analysis. When combined with the support and experience of one of their coaching team, a session in the TriCentral Endless pool is the ideal way to make improvements to your swim stroke. The session pricing is based on your needs from the session but it has to be the best way to spend an hour in Manchester!
From my novice point of view, the session seemed a little intimidating on the drive to the venue but once there the relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff soon turned those nerves into excited energy and a desire to get swimming. It should be noted that I have never tried one of these pools before and so feared the worse and that the video footage would show me pinned to the back of the pool fighting for some swimming dignity. Once in there in the heated tank I was put at ease and questioned about my swimming ability to ensure this was not going to be the case and I could swim at my own pace to get a feel for the experience.
Once going, the jet of water was adjusted to my swim pace and I was off and the mirrors directly below and in front of me meant I could watch myself thrashing along. The experience is very different to being in your normal pool and at first the water jet made me forget about a lot of my usual rhythm and breathing practices, this is soon overcome as you get used to how the pool works and your normal swim stroke resumes.
After a few minutes of swimming in my own unique way I was then able to see the footage from the cameras played back to assess my style and I have to admit that it was not as pretty viewing as I had initially hoped. The lengths spent in my local pool dreaming of Olympic glory were now a distant memory!
It was really easy to see from the video footage where my technique was letting me down and under the keen expert eye of Gavin Rogers my coach, a plan to address these issues was put into place. A few simple drills and some more videoing of how I was progressing with each change to my style dramatically altering my swim stroke.
Without this session I would have probably carried on at my local pool in a very inefficient manner with the result that my first attempts in open water would be a bit of an exhausting disaster.
From the start it was obvious that the position of my head in the water was too high and this resulted in me dragging my body too low behind me creating more work as I fought against the extra drag. My arm strokes were looked at to create a more powerful pull stroke and a more efficient recovery style - these I am working on now at my leisure. From watching the video playback you could see immediate changes in my swim, far more gliding and efficiency although this is just the start and I have many hours to go before I think all this will become second nature as it will need to be for the coming season.
Now I can practice these drills in my pool sessions during the week and when I go back for another session hopefully see some good improvements and move to the next level.
All the video footage taken is available for you to view and download from a secure web server immediately after the session. A free DVD is provided of your session for feedback and watching back at home. With the benefit of hindsight I cannot imagine why I have not tried this out before, being the sucker for technology that I am. The session has left me wanting to get practising to implement changes and get back in the endless pool for updates and more coaching. This I will be doing in the next few weeks.
In summary, I have come away enthused to develop my swim technique and get more coaching advice. It has only been to my benefit. Having viewed a previous coaching session in a pool without the video system and the coach viewing you actually in the water I can see this has to be the way forward, watching the video playback I can easily see my mistakes and visualise putting them right. You can even see on the video footage of the coach as he demonstrates a far superior technique. As I mentioned at the start of the article, this has to be the best way to spend an hour in Manchester, I have left feeling like I want to go back very soon!
I would recommend this to anyone like me starting out on the road to triathlon and the sooner the better, it will point you in the right direction from the start and avoid a lot of time spent not really improving on your own. It will be some of the best money you will spend and one of the most rewarding experiences. It has also served to keep up my enthusiasm as I have now a real purpose in the pool and not just more lengths.