How much improvement can you make in a one-hour swim lesson? Quite a bit, if you’re novice triathlete Gareth Jones and you’re training in the Elite Endless Pool® with Coach John Wood of Tri-Coaching! They’ve supplied before and after videos from their first one-on-one session to show Gareth’s remarkable advances.
Gareth completed his first triathlon, IRONMAN 70.3 Mallorca, just last May. “I had such a miserable swim,” he recounts. “I learned to swim as a child, but I don’t think I learned to swim properly. I knew I was inefficient. I was really struggling.”
In Coach Wood’s assessment, “Gareth was swimming ‘through’ the water rather than over it. [His] hips were about six inches below the surface, and as a result, they were swinging from side to side. … His stroke was quite short and ineffectual, and his knees were bending when he was kicking.”
Gareth sums up his stroke as “thrashing around like a demented octopus!” You can supply your own aquatic metaphor after watching the ‘before’ video here:
So what changed over the next hour? “Pretty much everything,” in Gareth’s assessment. “We started off with body position, then the kick and body rotation, then the arms. By the end of the session, I was swimming with considerably less effort and at a faster speed.”
Both coach and swimmer agree that the Endless Pool contributed significantly to the rapid advances. “The big benefit is the camera and the mirror,” Gareth observes. “It’s difficult for you to visualize what you do. The mirror was really useful to keep my eye on my head position and what my arms were doing.”
Coach Wood echoes the belief that the pool’s “constant feedback” aided Gareth. “More importantly,” he adds, “I could control the speed of the tank, stopping him from trying to go too hard.” Gareth also appreciated that, with his coach in charge of the Endless Pool’s variable-speed swim current, he could “keep me in the right place as I was speeding up.”
“By the end, it was a lot straighter,” Gareth attests. “I was on the surface of the water rather than having a large proportion underneath it.” You can see the end-of-session video here:
So what do Gareth’s strides mean in real-world terms? They calculated that, for his next tri, he’d shave six to seven minutes off his swim! “That’s quite a considerable time savings for an hour’s work,” Gareth enthuses. And those minutes seem all the more important as he prepares for this August’s AXTRI 2015, a Norwegian triathlon featuring a 1900m swim in a fjord as cold as 11° C/52° F!
The coaching session delivered intangible benefits as well. “At the end, I found myself swimming with a grin on my face,” Gareth reports. “It felt so much better.”
Special thanks to The Triathlon Shop in Bristol for graciously allowing Coach Wood to utilize their Endless Pool.