The Hammer, The Swimmer, and I Check Out an Endless Pool

12.21.2011 | 11:54 am

You know how The Hammer and I once did an Ironman? And then we said (or at least, I said) that one Ironman per lifetime was plenty — that we no longer needed to ever do another triathlon again?

Well, then my friend Dustin had to go and be all heroic and inspirational at the Kona Ironman.

Which got me to thinking: maybe we should do one more Ironman. Just — you know — to see if I could actually do an Ironman where instead of lamely walking for 70% of the final leg of the race, I actually raced it.

And maybe — just maybe — instead of flailing around in the swim leg, I actually kinda swam it.

So I was talking with Dustin and told him The Hammer, The Swimmer (i.e., The Hammer’s daughter — I’ve mentioned her recently) are thinking about doing the New Zealand Ironman in 2013.

“Oh, I’ll come do it with you,” said Dustin. Which moved the possibility of doing the New Zealand Ironman from the “awesome-but-painful” category to the “really-awesome-but-still-remarkably-painful” category.

“So,” I asked, wondering about the most difficult part of the race, “What are you going to do about the swim?”

“I’ve got that covered,” Dustin said. “I have an Endless Pool.”

That made me curious.

We Try an Endless Pool

Now, I’ve seen Endless Pools demonstrated before, but I had never been in one. So when I went to their site and saw the “Try a Pool” link, I thought, “Well, OK.” I figured that this would mean they’d call me and set up an appointment at a store or something. Instead, though, they sent me over to try one at someone’s house.

So I went over, bringing The Hammer and The Swimmer. And my camera, to catch a video of what it would be like to swim in place.

Here’s what it was like:

What I Thought

All three of us were kind of nervous of this thing at first. Which, as it turns out was silly. Swimming in an Endless Pool felt pretty much the same as swimming in a regular pool. Just no kick-turns, and no fighting for a swim lane.

And — and this was huge — there was hardly any chlorine smell at all.

The bad thing (which would eventually be a good thing if I did something about it) was — as you’ll see in the video — this totally made it super obvious to The Hammer, The Swimmer, and now to you what an abysmally bad swimmer I am.

I find myself painful to watch. You, on the other hand, may find me hilarious.

I talked with the home / pool owners after our pool party, wondering whether they still use their Endless Pool. They said that the man uses it three or four times per week; the woman uses it a couple times per week. Which is pretty impressive, considering they’ve had this setup since they built the house about six years ago.

In that time, the pool has never broken. Of course, they seemed like the kind of people who would actually follow the recommended maintenance schedule, whereas I would let a thick green moss grow on the surface of the water.

By the way, I lost a bet — fortunately for me, there were no stakes — I made with The Hammer and The Swimmer before we went that the man would absolutely positively be a hardcore triathlete. As it turns out, he just likes swimming. Doesn’t compete at all. So evidently, there are athletes out there who just like to exercise without thumping their chests and stuff.

Frankly, I can’t fathom it.

Of course, after having used this, my most pressing question is: Since he’s got the equipment, what do we have to do to get Dustin to do an Ironman of Nowhere this year?


  1. Comment by Ripkenfan | 12.21.2011 | 12:16 pm

    You should really buy one of these, if for no other reason to work on your backstroke. That was impressive. You freestyle, I feel bad calling it that, seems to be a work in progress.

  2. Comment by Jenn | 12.21.2011 | 12:31 pm

    That is a very…um…interesting(?) style you have there, Fatty. Perhaps you might think of getting some lessons from The Swimmer.

  3. Comment by tom | 12.21.2011 | 12:41 pm

    Love the ironman of nowhere idea. Hilarious.

  4. Comment by Geoff | 12.21.2011 | 12:58 pm

    You should come to NZ.. We’d love to have you.. there is a shortage of fat cyclists over here.. :P (although I do fit the bill)

  5. Comment by chad | 12.21.2011 | 1:20 pm

    sounds like riding the trainer, except with a drowning element…

  6. Comment by Charlie | 12.21.2011 | 1:20 pm

    Wow, an “Ironman of Nowhere.” 100 MoN is brutal enough. Maybe and Olympic Distance Triathlon of Nowhere would be better.

  7. Comment by Fat Cathy | 12.21.2011 | 1:22 pm

    Ouch, Fatty. I’m kinda amazed you were able to do an Ironman without drowning.

  8. Comment by MattC | 12.21.2011 | 1:47 pm

    Well…I must say Fatty that your uhm, er, swim-stroke…wasn’t quite as horrid as I thought it would be. Oh sure, you have the SUPER HIGH breathing side return…but most everybody has that to some degree…yours is just a bit higher than usual…knocking birds from the sky and such. Nothing that can’t be fixed w/ more video, especially as you haven’t been swimming that long so don’t as yet have a ‘lifetime’ habit to break).

    I’ve always wanted one of these quite honestly…in a prior lifetime I swam roughwaters when I lived in Hawaii…and before that like “the swimmer” I swam all 4 yrs in High School both AAU and HS team. So swimming is in my blood (tho I was never very good…in the roughwaters I’d cosistently be middle of the pack).

    So, roughly, how much does one of these go for, anyway? (“Lets steal it”….”it won’t be easy”…you are hilarious!)

  9. Comment by MattC | 12.21.2011 | 1:51 pm

    Oh…the REAL beauty of the endless pool is that you DON’T wear the cheating wetsuit, and thus you actually will need to develop some stroke technique! And that will pay off in spades when you put the suit back on!

    That, and you can swim right at your own home, saving oodles of time over driving to a pool and back…giving you MORE time in the water to train (which is exactly what you want I’m sure!)

  10. Comment by roan | 12.21.2011 | 1:53 pm

    Well (an it’s a deep one) there’s a T-shirt I won’t be getting the “Ironman of Nowhere”…even the name gives me a sinking feeling.

    Do I like how Dustin closed the exit door on this adventure, “OH, I’ll come do it with you”.

  11. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 12.21.2011 | 1:59 pm

    That looks like torture.

  12. Comment by aussie kev | 12.21.2011 | 2:14 pm

    Fatty you still have boobs awesome – i thought you had “skinnied up” !!!


    That was the summer. Now it’s winter. And I have put it all back on, with a vengeance. – FC

  13. Comment by roan | 12.21.2011 | 2:15 pm

    I forgot to mention my punch line on “I can’t fathom it.” Nice nautical wording ye using days.
    Q. Can you put salmon in it ? They love swimming upstream. The Endless Pool would make a ideal lure testing tank.
    Q-2. Fatty any chance that Dr Lammler and Duane are the same person ?

    AND nice sweater Swimmer !
    ATTN: the sidebar ads now include “The Endless Pool” !!!

  14. Comment by SLL | 12.21.2011 | 2:53 pm

    I will donate 100 if Dustin does the IoN. However, that is the craziest idea I have ever heard…

  15. Comment by eclecticdeb | 12.21.2011 | 3:01 pm

    My sister has something similar…but the resistance is weak…I’m not a great swimmer and I had to go super-slow to not keep hitting the front. Until now, I thought all “endless pools” were like that, glad to know that hers is just lame. :-)

  16. Comment by hannah | 12.21.2011 | 3:17 pm

    I am 100% for an Ironman of Nowhere, so long as it is Dustin doing it, not me. Also, the Endless Pool looks awesome. I would buy one in a heartbeat if I had more than 50 cents to my name.

  17. Comment by Bee | 12.21.2011 | 3:44 pm

    Ironman to Nowhere is sorta awesome… except that I don’t think I could handle a marathon on a treadmill. Treadmills make me want to gouge out my brainstem to stop the tedium. BUT… I’d totally be the bike leg on that relay team.

  18. Comment by Rachel | 12.21.2011 | 4:11 pm

    Your stroke is somewhat amusing. Not too painful. It mostly just looked familiar to me – the same stroke that I see most male cyclist/runners do. I coached triathlon swimming for a number of years, and I’ve seen the exact same thing in most of the guys who came through my class – it’s the standard.
    I was thinking ‘I could totally fix that stroke’. :D

    The IoN is a horrifying thought.

    I like to call it the, “Took a summer’s worth of swim lessons when he was 10″ stroke. – FC

  19. Comment by davidh-marin, ca | 12.21.2011 | 4:31 pm

    Bravo Fatty! and the whole family. What y’all do to entertain us just can’t be summed up in words alone. And that old adage about the value of a picture, this video(picture) supports that thought in SPADES!!!!

    Next time you come through San Francisco we’ll take you down to the Dolphin Club. They’ll help your stroke, and their ‘endless pool’ is really awesome:


  20. Comment by Melinda | 12.21.2011 | 4:37 pm

    I’m completely for the Endless pool and we own a pool service business here in California. You should join a masters swim team though just to get the advantage of some coaching. The whole experience changes when you don’t feel like you’re trudging through the water.

  21. Comment by Christina | 12.21.2011 | 4:43 pm

    Can Dustin doing the IoN be the film we watch while doing 100MoN? It would be pretty inspirational.

    Your real voice is not what the “in my head reading your blog” voice sounds like. I’m ruined.

  22. Comment by Mark | 12.21.2011 | 5:21 pm

    (Is it just coincidence that an Endless Pools ad lines the right side of the blog today? And I’m not sure their tag line “the treadmill for swimmers” is a real sales pitch or not…) Your swimming looks about like mine did until a few weeks at the Y “competing” against the other lunchtime swimmers. It gets better, but not much more fun. Finally, what do you look at on the bottom? A black SPOT?

    The reason you’re looking at the Endless Pools ad is because Google is smart. They know how to do context-aware ads and stuff (i.e., I did not change my ad codes, and have not had any conversations with Endless Pools about doing an ad on my site). I have also noticed that if I browse to some product sites, I will start seeing ads for those products at other sites (including mine). So when people email me saying things like, “Your site now has ads for Russian Brides!” I always think to myself, “Dude, you just told me more about your browsing history than you wanted to.” – FC

  23. Comment by spinecho | 12.21.2011 | 5:35 pm

    thanks for the video — at the end of a long day it made me smile!

  24. Comment by Roger Whitney | 12.21.2011 | 5:41 pm

    I am so in on IM NZ

    Oh, that’s awesome! Let’s stay in touch. Registration goes FAST; fills on first day it opens, I think. – FC

  25. Comment by Miles Archer | 12.21.2011 | 7:02 pm

    Eldon, it’s more of a controlled drowning with you than swimming. ;-) If you do another ironman, you should really get someone to give you some lessons.

  26. Comment by Rachel | 12.21.2011 | 7:10 pm

    Triathlon swimming is a fairly different ideal stroke than club-freestyle. A masters club is good for putting in the distance, but you’ll get a lot more out of working on the form than just swimming more.
    If you really work on optimizing the form of the stroke, the distance and speed come more naturally. If you just work on bashing through long fast swims without good form, you’re just teaching your muscles something that will be difficult to un-learn.
    I’m not in favour of all the details of the method, but for some starting exercises for triathlon swimming (goal – easy endurance, so you can climb out and feel good enough to do two more events, rather than just seeking speed), the ‘Total Immersion’ stuff is great. Look at their website, or check your library for a book.

  27. Comment by Jesse | 12.21.2011 | 7:53 pm

    I love how happy and giggly you guys are together :)

    I can’t wait for the comment thread where we figure out how you, the Hammer, and the Swimmer would finish against each other in an Ironman!

  28. Comment by Justin L. | 12.21.2011 | 9:10 pm

    I assume its google that do that ads, i always have nothing but davis live strong ads and twin six. That swimming is painful and funny all in one, but then again a video of me running would be just as great.

    You’re dead on re the ads. And you’ll note I have never posted a video of me running. It is ugly. – FC

  29. Comment by BamaJim | 12.21.2011 | 10:11 pm

    “The Treadmill for Swimmers” sounds to me like the worst product ever, but then my triathlon experience was always hampered by my thrash and splash swimming style.

  30. Comment by buckythedonkey | 12.22.2011 | 4:16 am

    IoN – what a great idea. Is Dustin daft enough to do it?

  31. Comment by Cookster | 12.22.2011 | 5:12 am

    They say when you start out at something to start at the bottom and build your way up, this method is not recommended with swimming however.

  32. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 12.22.2011 | 7:15 am

    That is so cool! My wife and I browsed the website and daydreamed a bit together (always a good thing). It’s clearly out of our budget, but it was really interesting to see and nice to dream.

    Your swimming looks like mine does. I’ve bit the bullet and joined the local master’s swimmers for the winter session.

    So are you gonna get one?

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

  33. Comment by Jim G | 12.22.2011 | 9:52 am

    Despite some of the other comments, I think that you have been secretly perfecting your swim stroke for years. A stroke like that most certainly allows you extra space in the water. Merry Christmas to you & your family.

  34. Comment by Buzz Lightyear | 12.22.2011 | 10:42 am

    That’s not swimming; that’s drowning — with STYLE!

  35. Comment by mike | 12.22.2011 | 12:50 pm

    I have had an Endless pool for three years now and still love it.

  36. Comment by Rachel | 12.22.2011 | 2:09 pm

    “I like to call it the, “Took a summer’s worth of swim lessons when he was 10? stroke. – FC”

    It’s the ‘heavy-legged man who is used to legs moving in a roughly cicular motion (cycling, running), with a lot of leg muscle, and not much body fat to stay at the surface’ stroke – I see it in all the newbie triathletes. But it’s very fixable! :D

  37. Comment by Kukui | 12.22.2011 | 3:14 pm

    You’re messing with the illusion, Fatty! I always picture you sounding exactly like Stanley Tucci… I guess it’s not too far off. :)

    Cool demonstration of the endless pool. I’ve always wondered how/if they really work. And wow, The Swimmer is quite an amazing swimmer… And you’re amusingly awful at it! :)

  38. Comment by Jim B | 12.24.2011 | 1:04 pm

    We had an endless pool installed in our garage, but we moved a couple years ago and left the pool behind. We got the pool for my wife, but for various reasons she didn’t use it much. I, on the other hand, did. I had never learned to swim, and was always to embarrassed to go to a pool and learn where everyone could see me flounder. Once we had the endless pool, I learned to swim freestyle.

    Compared to a regular pool, there are a couple differences. It can be compared to running on a treadmill vs running on the street: you have to maintain a constant pace in the endless pool, which is both good and bad, but mostly good. There is a sweet spot in the current, and at first (especially for poor swimmers) you get pushed out of the main current flow to the side, and it is a bit of a struggle at first to stay in the jetstream.

    The mechanics of it were reliable; we had no problems. We also had a heater system in ours, and despite that had no problems. The chlorine level is a lot lower than a public pool for two reasons. One is that the filter system is simply more effective than what a public pool uses, and secondly there are a lot fewer people doing nasty things in your endless pool (hopefully) than a public pool.

    If you have $15K to spare and want to swim more, it is great.

  39. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 12.24.2011 | 9:34 pm

    Kinda late to the conversation, but your freestyle needs some work dude.

  40. Comment by Uni-Tom | 12.25.2011 | 1:45 pm

    An “Ironman of Nowhere” is SUCH a bad idea.

  41. Comment by Augustus | 12.26.2011 | 8:17 am

    I am a noncompeting cyclist. I ride purely for pleasure and do enter competitions.

  42. Comment by Augustus | 12.26.2011 | 8:24 am

    I meant “do not”. Fatty, you look like me in the pool, except that I have pecs.

  43. Comment by Christa | 12.26.2011 | 9:37 am

    I’m a swim coach so I thought I’d weigh in on your swim portion.
    Your stroke is pretty good but you need to RELAX. Think ’streamline’ when you swim, you want to mimic a shark/torpedo shape…long and lean…not swimming like a potato.
    I always recommend my adult swimmers SLOW DOWN and work on style/form; speed will come later.
    Kick from your glutes with your legs/knees fairly straight, not churning like a egg beater. Compare ‘the Swimmers’ kick to your own in the video.
    Good luck and Merry Christmas

  44. Comment by SwimmerPaul | 12.30.2011 | 9:35 pm

    I’ve got an Endless Pool too. Perhaps one of the coolest things about it is that the pool becomes your coach. You get to experiment with your stroke, kick, etc., and the pool gives you immediate feedback. As for bettering open water swim technique, the pool is perfect.

    Also very helpful is These folks teach a low energy expending way of swimming fast based on fluid dynamics principles. It is how I learned to swim well (in my late 40’s).


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