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Swim Training in Short Pools

Swim Training in Short Pools

Daniela Ryf training with the anchor.

At our recent camp in Jeju we had to improvise as the Olympic standard pool closed down for three days over Korean Thanksgiving. It left our Kona-bound pros a little nervous, as during a crucial period in the lead up to the season’s ‘Big Dance’ they found themselves preparing in a 20m lap pool in the aqua park.

It has had me reflecting on the early days of my swim coaching career and how sessions with the stretch chord might help some age groupers who only have a small pool in their apartments or frequently travel long distances so they can get to a 25m or 50m pool. It’s quite possible you’d be better served doing every second workout in the mini-pool with a little bit of innovation.

Let me explain why. My first ever State Swimming Champion in the mid-70s came out of a winter swimming in a 12.5m pool.

Yes, off 8 laps to the 100m Bruce Leverton won the 100m backstroke final.

During our preparation in the swim ‘puddle’ we took inspiration from an Aussie swim great, Mark Kerry. Mark lived in a hotel complex run by his parents and they trained him to his first National Championships in a 16m pool (or 3 laps to 50m). Mark went on to great heights – American University, Olympic medals and a star career as a model in the USA.

Similarly, 10 years later I advised a swimmer in our team who lived in a remote area that she needn’t make the long trip to the big city as she had a 15m pool next door. Off her winter training she made the trip down to the Age Group Australian Championships to win the 100m butterfly in 63 seconds. Not too shabby. Triathlon’s best females swim about this for 100m freestyle now.


When asked by the media ‘how do you even swim in winter?’ they were taken aback that she did every swim main set using a $9 dollar swim stretch chord. Coach told her it would make her strong. It did. She represented Australia that year without leaving home.

Fast forward nearly 40 years. Nicola Spirig and Daniela Ryf both use the stretch chord to enhance their new strokes. Nicola uses hers in a 12m pool at the the Giardino Hotel in St Moritz. Daniela is using hers as I write in a hotel pool in Kona.

Yes, before the biggest race of her life Coach is perfectly happy to for her to swim in the hotel rather than 50m pool for certain sessions.

Having this equipment is a must for all triathletes who travel to race. It gives you the chance to swim at any hotel sized swim pool.

Michelle Derron searching for the wall using the stretch chord.

We also use a number of other swim tools apart from paddles and pull-buoy, which I have written about earlier. These were all developed from the days when heated pools were not the norm.

The ‘bucket’ was a favourite that my father would use to great effect. Inflicting many a lungbusting aerobic set in the most unlikely swim pools. The ‘parachute’ is a further innovation along with the Dennis Cotteral ‘Octopus’. We use a cut down version of this that is not as tough for the girls, known in the swim world as the ‘Octopussy’.

Add to this the 3m chord, the 10m chord and the 15m chord and we have all the tools to make any size pool feel like a long way.

These are all cheap options to the jet resistance pool that can also be bought anywhere in the world and be used with great effect.

So I hope with a little out of the box thinking you can turn that pool you think is too small into a positive addition to your swim program.

Short pool session in Jeju left no-one in any doubt that you can still get a very exhausting swim workout. online professional coaches are available to help improve your performance here. Partners With On Partners With On

Nicola Spirig and Jane Fardell warming up for the Zurich Marathon. Photo: Chris Godfrey.

It seems funny to be writing a press release announcing our ‘new’ working relationship with the Swiss manufacturer of On shoes.

Why? Because it has now been over 5-years that I have worked with the team at On, starting officially when they first signed with TeamTBB and more recently sponsoring the Olympic Champion Nicola Spirig for the last two.

During this time I have seen the company’s rise and rise into the big time of athletic shoe manufacturers.

However, for me the On story goes back much farther as the co-founder of On shoes is none other than the 8 times winner of the Powerman Zofingen and Swiss Ironman legend, Olivier Bernhard.

Innovative performance shoe.

Apart from his great racing exploits, early on after his retirement he caught my eye with a developing shoe I had seen at the Ironman Zurich expo. It intrigued me at first and after studying it for an hour at the booth had me admonishing myself for ‘why didn’t I think of that!?’.

The uniqueness of this shoe design has morphed into the On brand and Cloud technology called CloudTec® we see on the shoe today.

So I find it ironic at Camps that I’m asked about why I’m now involved with this upcoming brand On? I feel as if I’ve watched the shoe grow from its very inception.

My support of the shoe and concept is easy to explain.

I think they help athletes and are superior to normal running shoes in three areas:

1) As a performance shoe I believe it’s faster. The CloudTec® concept and the transfer of kinetic energy is just superior to normal shoes.

2) They have a remedial impact second to no other brand. It has been my personal experience to deal with ex-athletes who have stopped running from knee, ankle and lower back pain. I have guided them into the shoes saying “Give them a try and if I’m wrong what do you have to lose?” To see so many of these guys not only actually running again, but enjoying running pain free is a personal achievement for me.

3) The everyday walking sneaker is so comfortable, it’s like walking on air. As the squad will testify (and to the relief of many) it’s the only shoe that’s been able to get me out of wearing ugg boots trackside.

On Shoes

So yes, and On are the perfect fit.

And when one turns up at Camp and sees Nicola Spirig, Mary Beth Ellis, Ritchie Nicholls, Jane Fardell and many of our development squad running around in On’s you now know why. Within our training group we see every day the benefits of running on clouds.

To view the range of Shoes available with On click here.

Race Recap - HoTPractice what we preach. On shoes being worn by the squad.