Commentary by Robbie Dickson, Swimming World College Intern
Endless Pools have been around for twenty-five years, and are used by all types of swimmers. The Endless Pool is the swimming equivalent to a treadmill, allowing swimmers to swim at a certain pace in place for however long they (or their coaches) choose. SwimMac CEO and 2016 USA Head Women’s coach in Rio, David Marsh, was gracious enough to talk over the phone about his experience with Endless Pools and how they have contributed to the success of his athletes.
Coach Marsh said that his first interaction with an Endless Pool came during his years of coaching at Auburn University. USA Swimming had just spent a fortune on building a water flume at the Olympic training center in Colorado for the International Center for Aquatic Research (ICAR)*. Coach Marsh later was approached by Rowdy Gaines, who had just built a “pool in his house that was like a treadmill” and thought that a product like that would be perfect for one-on-one coaching and teaching.
According to Coach Marsh, French Olympian and Auburn Tiger, Freddy Bousquet, spent “hours and hours in an Endless Pool roll kicking with his hands at his sides to improve his relationship with the water.” At the 2005 NCAA Championships, Bousquet became the first person under nineteen seconds in the 50 freestyle with a time of 18.74. Marsh credits Bousquet’s countless hours in the endless pool “with the speed turned way down” focusing on the connection of his rotation and kick as a major factor to his barrier breaking swim. The different variety of speed settings that the Endless Pool has really allows an athlete to sharpen or learn new skills without worrying about how fast they have to go.
When asked about how he utilizes the Endless Pool in his training routine, Coach Marsh said that Team Elite does not have daily access to an Endless Pool. But when they do have it available, the most convenient time is during warm up. “Guys will cycle through and work on one specific thing, and then try to sense the same thing in the regular pool,” explained Coach Marsh.
2016 Olympian Katie Meili is one athlete that Marsh says really enjoys the Endless Pool. He added that a lot of the other athletes enjoy the Endless Pool because it is consistently kept at 84-86 degrees, a lot warmer than the regular pool.
The ability for the athletes to be by themselves, away from the rest of the world, really allows them to focus on the little details. It also allows them to practice new techniques, that they may be too nervous to try out because they are afraid that they will not make a set’s intervals. The mirrors that are on the bottom of the Endless Pool make noticing the little things really easy, and many athletes respond positively to seeing a new angle of their stroke. Coach Marsh also said that the warmer water “allows the athletes to pay better attention”, this makes a lot of sense because when the water is cold, all I am thinking about the next time I can go to the bathroom to sneak a quick hot shower.
*It is important to note that USA Swimming replaced the original flume in Colorado Spring with a more efficient and less costly Endless Pool Elite.
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.