Endless pools are not a new concept, some of the major players have been going for over 25 years.
However, the global pandemic has seen an explosion in the amount of attention that endless pools are getting and their sales.
With the original Endless Pool model setting you back over $32,000 you may well question whether it is really worth buying one and if there is a cheaper option.
So first thing first, is it worth it to buy an Endless Pool? If you are serious about your training, have the money and space to install one, then an endless pool is a great tool for improving your technique and will certainly make the training much more accessible in a convenient private setting.
If you are looking at endless pools because you are just getting into triathlon and worried about the swim leg, then check out: How Long Is The Swim Portion Of A Triathlon? Number of Swimming Lessons You Need
What Is An Endless Pool?
An endless pool is a small swimming pool (around 15 feet by 8 feet) that uses a propulsion current that enables you to swim continuously. It can be used as a swimming training aid, allowing you to swim non-stop long distances without having to install a full-size swimming pool in your back garden.
How Fast Can You Swim In An Endless Pool?
There are a variety of different models offering different levels of intensity. The high-end Endless Pool Elite can pump out enough power to give a 51-seconds per 100-yard pace. As a comparison, the world record for 100 yards is 39.90 by Caleb Dressel in 2018 (source), so for the general swimming population, it is highly unlikely for the user to be swimming at the top speed of the Endless Pool Elite for any extended periods of time.
The Endless Pool Original model will give a top speed of 1:08 per 100 yards, which is plenty of pace for most triathletes.
The winner of the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 in Dubai had a pace of around 1:04 per 100 yards (source), so if you can keep up with the pace that the Original model gives then you can consider yourself in great racing shape.
If you are looking for a more sedate swim then all of the models are adjustable, so you can have an easy 3:00 per 100-yard pace swim if that is what you are looking for.
Costs And Sizes Of Endless Pools
There are a few different options when it comes to costs and you need to look at what you really need in terms of performance. There are also different sizes available and bear in mind that you need a little more space than the actual pool size so that you can access the inner workings for maintenance. The table below gives you an idea of the options available:
|51 secs/100 yds
Data from www.endlesspools.com
You can fully personalize the dimensions to suit the space you have available with any permutations of the following:
*not available on the elite model
Check out how this compares to a typical Olympic swimming pool and check out our post How Many Gallons & Litres Are In Olympic Swimming Pools? Specification Explained
Advantages Of An Endless Pool
If you are fortunate enough to be looking at buying an Endless Pool then you might want to know what the advantages are over a traditional pool, or open-water swimming. Let us take a look at the major benefits.
- Time – Most age-groupers, and even many of the professional triathletes, have to hold down a full-time job and fit training in where they can. Having your own endless pool means you no longer need to worry about the time you spend driving to and from your local pool, or the nearest body of water for an open-water swim.
- Personal Space – If you go down to your local pool for a training session, inevitably there is the potential that you will have to fight for a lane. This is something we have to accept about a public pool. But it doesn’t make it any easier when you cannot train at the speed or intensity you want to due to the traffic in the lanes. Your own endless pool is a way to put an end to all those worries.
- Convenience – For open-water swimming there are not the same issues of personal space, but there is the issue that you are likely to be dependent on other swimmers to go with you. Solo-swimming in lakes or in the ocean is not advised because of the inherent dangers. With an endless pool you can jump in and swim any time, day or night, without being reliant on others to go with you.
- It Doesn’t Close – One of the major reasons for the recent increase in sales of endless pools is that many public pools are closed due to covid. Even open-water swimming has been affected, with lakes and beaches across the world being closed. Having your own endless pool means you can train even under these conditions. Even in pre-pandemic times we are dictated the times we can swim either by public pool opening hours or by the tides and daylight hours for open-water swimming, so this is another reason that an endless pool may be worth the cost.
- Technique – These pools have a very simple, but incredibly helpful, feature; they come equipped with mirrors so that you can actually watch your stroke while you swim. This is a game-changer when it comes to working on your technique, because you are able to make corrections to your stroke in real time. It is also simple enough to place your phone next to the pool and take a video of yourself so you can see what your stroke really looks like, rather than how you imagine it to look.
Are There Any Disadvantages To Endless Pools ?
One of the biggest drawbacks of an endless pool is the initial capital that you need in order to purchase and install one.
Most of us do not have a spare $32,000 laying around, however, the companies have recognized this and Endless Pools offers a financial package that means you can pay off the cost of the pool starting at $950 per month (source).
Real-life race scenarios are something that you cannot replicate in an endless pool. You cannot practice your starts, be that water starts or land-based starts.
You will not get the practice of sighting that is imperative to racing. You also will not be able to get the hang of drafting other swimmers, which can save you up to 30% of your energy (source).
You will also have to keep an eye on the chemical balance used in the water or it may put the user of the pool at risk. For more on this check out our post What Happens If You Swim In A Shocked Pool? Precautions & How Long To Wait !
Alternatives To Endless Pools
The two major players in the market are ‘Endless Pool’ and ‘Master Spas’ and both work on fundamentally the same principle of creating a current against which you swim.
Master Spas does have the accolade that their Signature Swim series was designed with help of legendary Michael Phelps, and you probably cannot argue with a 23-time gold medallist.
Here is a list of the main companies that you might want to take a look at in order to compare their products:
Most attractive and budget-friendly option – Build Your own! Check out the video below for how someone can build his own endless pool for 10,000 British pounds (around 14,000 USD).
Also, as a very budget-friendly alternative option, check out our post “What Are Swimming Resistance Bands? How To Properly Benefit From Them!“
How To Use An Endless Pool For Triathlon Training
There are three main ways that you can use an endless pool to help your triathlon training and note that we do mean help. An endless pool is not something that you should look at to replace traditional training, particularly open-water swimming. You cannot replicate the choppy water, poor visibility, the need for regular sighting, fighting against tidal currents etc. Instead, it is a tool that can be used to supplement your training.
- Endurance Training – The ability to set the desired pace and then swim continuously means that you can easily use the endless pool for long-distance endurance swims. The fact that you are unable to count the laps that you have done is not an issue because you know your time per 100 yards. As such it is a simple calculation to work out your overall distance based on the time swum.
- Interval Training – You can still use the endless pool for interval training. Set a timer going at a visible place near the pool and then set the pace. Let’s say that you want to do 5×100 at 1:30 per 100 yards, you can just set the pace and then swim for 90 seconds and simply stop at that point. The jets will push you to the end of the pool where you can just stand and have a 30 second break before you go again.
- Technique – Being able to work on perfect technique is by far the most beneficial part of having an endless pool. The mirrors on the bottom allow you to make real-time adjustments to your stroke and to really see what you are doing in the water. This is simply not an option for open-water or pool swimming. Additionally, you can place your phone on the side and record yourself so that you can see exactly where you need to improve on your stroke.
Take a look at the endless pool in action in the video below, and hear from Harvard University swim coach Tim Murphy about how he uses it in his training program:
Are Endless Pools Boring?
All endurance training has an element of repetitiveness to it, so it is up to us to be creative in how we mix our training up. Cycling the same 10km route every session at the same pace, or running around a track every time you train for running will get tiresome pretty quickly.
The same goes for swimming, in an endless pool or a traditional pool, or open-water. If you look at the tips above on how you can add variety to your training then there is no reason why an endless pool should be boring.
However, one thing you can use to help with the boredom is a waterproof mp3. Check out our recommended battle-tested gear list
Endless pools have become increasingly popular for good reason. The added level of convenience along with the unique technical training that they can be used for means that this would be a great addition to your training tools if you can afford one.
Not only will it help make you a more accomplished swimmer, but you will also be the envy of all your triathlon buddies. If you are wondering why it is that triathlons start out with the swim then be sure to check out Why Does Triathlon Start With Swimming? How Risky Is It!