“An endless pool is essentially a 5m long tank, with a flow of water going against you. You swim against it, and the flow is adjustable so it can adapt to different people’s pace. It’s almost like a treadmill underwater; you’re swimming but staying in the same place.
I first saw one at a triathlon exhibition in London, where they had a demo pool to try out. They’re amazing tools for coaching people, but at the time it didn’t seem like something I could possibly have; it’s quite a big investment, and finding the right location for it would be a challenge. But in the back of my mind I was thinking, ‘One day I’d love to have one of those, if the stars aligned.’
Some years later, the idea of having an endless pool seemed to really complement what I do now at The Lake. There isn’t a facility like it in Cumbria, and now The Lake has one it can be like a ‘one-stop-shop’ for people who either want to find out more about open water swimming, or swimming generally. You don’t have to go to one place to get coaching and somewhere else to do a swimming session, somewhere else for a wild swim, and somewhere else to stay at a hotel. It’s all here. The hotel itself has a beautiful swimming pool, I’ve got my boat on the lake for guided swims and we have the Sheep Shed, with showers and changing facilities near the lake. It’s the ideal destination for open water swimming.
I can take someone for an endless pool session in the morning to look at their technique, then in the afternoon, take them out on the lake with my support boat. The combination of the endless pool and the open water swimming sessions I do, makes it quite unique.
The real value of the endless pool is for the swimmer to instantly see what they’re doing. We have two underwater cameras and one above-water camera looking down at the swimmer. There’s a television screen at the end of the pool. So I can stop the swimmer at any time and say, ‘Look: this is what your stroke is doing underwater…’ I can do it in slow motion, play it back… so they can see exactly what their hand is doing as it goes through the water.