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"To be honest, I didn't think it was possible," admits 71-year-old Peter Lowman about his attitude before he completed the grueling 140.6-mile IRONMAN™ triathlon. He had good reason too: He had never run a marathon and "my swimming was pretty poor."
Though he learned the basics of the front crawl as a child, "It wasn't really until I got into triathlon that I got into swimming."
The turnaround came when he began working with Master Coach Tracey Baumann, who introduced him to two game-changers: Total Immersion swimming techniques and open-water swim training in her Endless Pool.
In the winter of 2010-11, Peter installed his own Original Endless Pool, installed partially in-ground for easy access and indoor for year-round use.
Peter monitors his swim technique in real time using the Endless Pools underwater mirrors. "You can actually see what's going on. When I focus on that, I can actually watch myself."
For a less experienced swimmer like Peter, the solitude of a compact pool comes as a comfort. Unlike his training in a public pool, "I'm in my own space. I can just focus on the bit I'm trying to develop.
"It certainly has improved my swimming."
"Being able to practice in the Endless Pool helped significantly," Peter notes. Like many IRONMAN athletes, he found improvements from his Endless Pools stroke training in at least three areas.
"Certainly my position in the water, which has made a big difference." Before he started swim lessons, "I felt I had to keep my head up to breathe. What I've mastered in the Endless Pool is breathing [to the side] without lifting my head."
Hand entry has been another aspect of his technique that he's corrected. "I had a tendency when my hand entered the water to put the break on."
And then there are the intangibles. "It's greatly improved my confidence," Peter reports. Even when crossing the Ohio River, he recalls, "I actually felt quite calm through the swim. I think that's both the training in the Endless Pool and in the open water."
That calm demeanor helped Peter immensely during the Louisville swim when "another competitor swam over me and managed to completely unzip my wetsuit at the back. It was a drag on me for 2 miles!"
Peter used his IRONMAN race to raise funds for two charities.
Teens Unite supports young people suffering from cancer. "They tend to drop out of their support mechanisms," Peter notes, and the organization helps them "get back into their communities and help them move through their disease."
He also fundraised for Walsingham Support for their "absolutely superb work" supporting people with a range of disabilities. Peter especially appreciates that "the aim with Walsingham is to get people away from institutions and into the local communities."
Peter and his wife plan on returning to Louisville for the 2018 IRONMAN. As he sees it, "I've certainly got an opportunity to improve my time" as a 72-year-old triathlete.
"One of my aims next year is to focus on swimming. Having the Endless Pool at home over winter will really help. Most of what I've done in the Endless Pool is technique. We need to master endurance in the Endless Pool."
With its swim-in-place current, the Endless Pool permits open water swimmers to train for endurance, uninterrupted by the flip-turns required in traditional pools. "That will make a big difference," Peter expects.