I have been swimming almost exclusively in the Endless Pool Fastlane current for 6 months now. My only still water swimming in that time period was in a hotel pool on a roof in Taipei for a week. Swimming in against the current is fun, but it is not the same as using a lap pool or swimming in placid water. It is both more exciting and a better way to prepare for open water variables. There is no break at the wall or change in pace from flip turns. I have had to learn a few things about staying in the middle of the current.
- Don’t swim too close to the current generator. The current is a bit smoother and more predictable is swimming is done 2 – 4 feet back from the machine. My daughter that also swims a lot, likes to be further away than I do. Both of us are moderately accomplished, but not necessarily very fast, swimmers who have completed sprint triathlons (swim distances between 1/3 – 1/2 mile).
- Let yourself float back in the current sometimes for a better position in the water. I am getting better at maintaining a constant pace in the water, but if I don’t, rather than ruin the interval, I let myself float back just a bit. This gets easier as fitness level and aerobic capacity improve.
- Use the mirror, but make sure the suction cups are holding it down well before you start the swim. The mirror not only makes the pool seem larger, but it helps to watch your form sometimes and line yourself up.
- Adjust your stroke to put yourself where you want to be. This might mean doing things like pulling the water under you or doing the frog kick for a moment. That way you don’t lose the aerobic benefit of continuing your interval. If you keep standing up every time you feel a bit out of the current, you won’t learn to stay in it as well either.
- It is easier to adjust the stroke to pull yourself back into place if elbows are kept high, like they are supposed to be anyway….
- Keep a steady kick going. I also mentioned this when talking about overcoming motion sickness in the pool. With some practice, the kick can also be more naturally used to maneuver back to an optimal location. I figure this skill will be useful when swimming with a bunch of people in open water, when I want to go this and that way.
- Let yourself feel like a fish. That is, enjoy the motion of being in the water and manipulating it. Don’t struggle against it (even though you are swimming “against” the current), but rather play with it.
I would say that form and balance matter more than strength when learning to swim in the Fastlane. Although I have many higher speeds to explore as I become stronger and more experienced with this set-up, I can enjoy it and learn at my own pace. If you live near me and want to come give it a try send me an email! You will probably find yourself laughing with the new feel, but inspired by the possibilities!