The Charlotte UltraSwim is, by far, the best USA Swimming Grand Prix competition. Since 1987 it has been nationally televised, covered by the media far and wide, but most world-class swimmers come for the amenities, the extra love from the home team, SwimMAC.
Sofas, widescreen TVs, and omelets made-to-order aside, the best additions come from the UltraSwim Partners that surround this aquatic event. This year one partner stood out:
The team at Endless Pools brought their best high-end machine for athletes with U.S. Olympic Trials on their minds, the Endless Pool Elite Model. Almost every elite swimmer got in and did a test swim. No exaggeration. Most said, “Oh, I just want to hop in and stroke for a minute to warm-up. (The water temp was a relaxing 84 degrees.) Those minutes stretched into intense half-hour technique sessions, sidelined by Endless Pools proponent, Glenn Mills, an old friend and the co-founder of goswim.tv.
Glenn’s an Olympian, a former world-class breaststroker, easy-going and a great guy to talk you through your first dip in an Endless Pool. For him, this technology is the best teaching tool a coach can have. (See Glenn offering indepth background here. Click on the video in the post.)
“Most coaches pace up and down the pool deck watching their athletes, but everything really happens below the surface. Also, you’re so far from your swimmers on deck, it’s tough to judge the tiny nuances that might be inhibiting forward motion; head position, body position. With the Endless Pool Elite Model, you’re right there. You can reach-out and tap your swimmer on the head.”
Elites at the UltraSwim weren’t always verbal about their experience. They simply slipped in and this interplay happened with the Endless Pool Elite Model as they went through a laundry-list of must-dos; hanging on the bar to get a stretch, a relaxed stream-line position slowly increasing their dolphin kick speed (as Glenn increased the current), a lot of stationary swimming with their head very still as they watched themselves in the mirror below, or, swimming backstroke, the mirror above.
For me, watching these incredible athletes work with the Endless Pool Elite Model was like peering inside their heads. You could see them making tiny corrections, experimenting with the pitch of their hands as they pulled through each stroke. A lot was going on in front of your eyes, not two and a half feet away.
Elite coaches, and I’m not naming any names (but they were all Olympic coaches), got very quiet as they walked up. Several were looking for their athletes. They had arrived at the Endless Pools Booth to wrangle their athletes back to the meet. All stayed and witnessed the same thing: their athletes using the Endless Pool Elite Model to refine their stroke, and, maybe more importantly, really get in touch with their feel for the water in the controlled environment.
I think the best use of the Endless Pool Elite Model, if you’re someone motivated by improving your stroke, is that it almost forces you to focus in one particular area. Every swimmer said essentially the same thing: I had this image in my head of how I looked. Until I was stationary in the water watching myself in the mirror, I never knew I was doing this right, or that I was doing this wrong.
Swimming in an Endless Pool Elite Model is eye-opening for everyone. If you can try one, do it. You’ll be hooked. I am.