By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Imagine swimming in a pool controlled by a massive current, one that tugs from all sides and prohibits you from reaching the other end. That is how it feels to swim in an Endless Pool.
Endless pools have become increasingly popular in recent years and are used by competitive swimmers at all levels. Shorter than a regulation 25 yards, endless pools are typically about 10 feet in length and around four feet deep. They are a great tool for working on technique, and with enough room for only one swimmer, allow for individualized attention.
The Nittany Lions welcomed their own Endless Pool earlier this season. With the rapidly approaching championship meets for both the men's and women's teams, the Endless Pool has become a key component in preparing for the Big Ten Championships.
"It's a great tool in helping us perfect technique," senior Caitlyn Karr said. "Especially with how close we are to Big Tens, every little thing counts at this point."
The first swimmer to use the Endless Pool was senior Katelyn Miller, who specializes in sprint freestyle events.
"It's actually pretty cool- it uses mirrors which is useful because the coaches can tell you something over and over again," MIller said. "But being able to actually see the things they're talking about makes the learning process much more effective.
With mirrors on the bottom and hanging over the sides, it allows swimmers to watch themselves swim and make adjustments based on feedback from coaches.
"It's a huge help with fixing strokes," senior Nate Savoy said. "The mirrors really make it easy to see what you're not doing correctly and to be able to fix it."
Prior to using the Endless Pool, the only way to breakdown technique from underneath was to use an underwater camera and to playback the film for the swimmer to make corrections. The use of mirrors provide a much more effective and efficient way to make adjustments in stroke.
As with any sport, technique plays a major role in swimming - even slightest change in stroke mechanics can lead to drops in time. Additionally, strong technique is an important component of injury prevention, especially in strokes that rely heavily on shoulder movement, like freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
With the Big Ten Championships less than a week away for the women's team, keeping the Nittany Lions healthy and ready to race is crucial.
Last year, the women placed third in the Big Ten and are looking to place higher this year.
at Big Tens, the scoring system had a dependency on prelims swims. Although the
top 24 swimmers would be invited back to finals, only those placed in the top
16 were eligible to score. Even if someone placed above 16th place posted a
faster time than swimmers in the A or B heat at finals, they would not score.
But this year, things will be different.
"One of the biggest changes from last year is that the C Final will score," Karr explained. "That gives a chance for more girls to score and can definitely have an impact on the outcome of the meet."
The women are a strong contender heading into Big Tens. Their only loss this season was to Michigan, and was by a very small margin.
Check back next week for a full Women's Big Ten Championship preview.