What I've learned in an Endless Pool
I got this email query recently
Since seeing you I went ahead and bought the Endless Pool. The dynamics of swimming in a current are far more different from swimming in still water than I would have guessed. The Endless is taking some getting use to.
The first question concerns my kick. I noticed at your Endless pool that my kick felt "funny" and it's the same with mine. I don't feel I get a good snap to my kick the way I do with a regular pool. Any suggestions?
The next concerns the pace. I got their digital swim pace display. What is a good pace? Also, I was interested in Terry's recent blogs about swimming slow. What is a good pace for that?
I got their floor mirror. It does encourage me keep my head down. But what else should I be looking for?
I replied thusly
Here are the insights I've gained on those questions in the 10 years of practice in the EP.
The most fundamental is that early on I learned to not view what I did in there as training in the sense of gaining or maintaining fitness. I simply know that physical activity is better for me than inactivity and I always feel better during and after it. I take fitness as a given in any physical activity, while knowing that any fitness I gain in the EP will be more specific to swimming performance than anything I might be doing on dry land instead.
Where my experience has shown the EP to be invaluable is in what I call 'stroke tuning.' I always use it to highlight some small problem or weak point I perceive in my stroke, to give that my undivided and unflagging attention and make it my goal to climb out of the pool after 30 minutes (I seldom swim longer than one 'turn' of the current) feeling that I've improved it.
The mirror and current give me such heightened visual and kinesthetic feedback on subtle aspects of my technique--and immediate awareness of when I've made an improvement--that I credit EP practice with virtually all of both the periodic dramatic leaps in efficacy as well as the ongoing, unceasing incremental improvement I've made over the past 10 years. This has easily been the most concentrated period of improvement in my swimming in the 50 years since I tried out for the team at my Catholic grammar school in 1963--and was cut.
Now to your specific queries
The Kick -- From the start I found my feet riding much lower. In the beginning my toes hit the bottom frequently--this when our pool was 46" deep; for the last five years it's been 40" deep. It took me some time to figure out why: I finally intuited that current tends to buoy up your chest causing your feet to drop. Also the moving water coming toward you causes instability not present in still water. This increases the likelihood your feet may be 'busy' performing unintended and uncoordinated steadying movements.
Once I figured this out, I concluded this was an opportunity--that if I could achieve good balance and stability in the EP, it would be a breeze anywhere else. At first I simply took more care to make sure my head was always weightless, especially while taking a breath. Feeling the cushioning effect of the water on my head. Visualizing the laser beam, etc.
For stability, I always made sure my recovery was compact and symmetrical and that my arms were on Wide Tracks.
In the last two years I've given more attention to my feet--striving to have the tiny, light 'flick' of the toes shown by Shinji in his viral video. And even at times, to be able to squeeze my feet into a streamline as I spear forward, then try to hold them together a bit longer during the recovery, until it was time to flick again.
As a result of this, my 2BK is both more streamlined and economical while also contributing far more to propulsion.
What Pace -- Until two years ago, my problem-solving exercises always began with very slow current. As I felt a solution taking hold I'd serially increase current to test my ability to maintain the new skill and discover the threshold where I lost control. Then I'd turn it down again to recover the efficiency sensation on which I'd been focused and repeat the process, trying to gradually raise my 'threshold of control.' Over and over. I usually allowed myself about 100 strokes (easy way to count--10 right breaths, 10 bilateral, 10 left breaths, 10 bilateral) with the solution feeling stable at each new current level--time to hardwire it--before giving the current knob a small clockwise twist again.
The last two years I've spent far more time seeking my slower-current threshold, than my faster-current threshold. I swim most of the time--and always for the first 5 to 10 minutes--at super-low currents where I feel unstable, where I experience difficulty maintaining a patient lead hand, or maintain that Shinji-like flick. At these currents I feel I've become far better at improving the artful aspects of my swimming. I focus on the physical aspects in a regular pool or in the lake.
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist
May your laps be as happy as mine.
My TI Story
What I have learned on the FORUM as been valuable to me
What I have learned
on the FORUM as been
valuable to me
Playing with the FORUM, & getting to know the DUDES on here has been FUN!
Fun is just One of the Ways I learned to Swim
Listening to Professionals, as well as seeing how they respond to ME!
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