As every swimmer knows, not all pools are created equal. Some much-loved pools, known as fast pools, help us fly through the water at top speeds. As soon as you get moving in a fast pool, you can tell that something is different.
Every wonder what makes fast pools unique? Some of the biggest differences between a plain, old pool and a fast pool are turbulence, pool depth, circulation and starting blocks. Small changes in these factors can make a world of difference in your swim times.
Let’s have a quick look at each factor of a fast pool.
Fast Pool Factor: Turbulence
The biggest difference between a standard pool and a fast pool is the level of turbulence. Anyone who has ever fought against waves knows that turbulence can make all the difference in the water. Turbulence can be reduced by separating swimmers with a lane rope that absorbs some of the waves that are often pushed back and forth between competitors.
Turbulence is also reduced by designing the pool so that waves aren’t bouncing off the sides of the pool. Some fast pools are even designed with extra lanes so that no swimmer is working too close to the sides. This makes a major difference in every swimmer’s speed across the pool.
Fast Pool Factor: Pool Depth
While we often pay attention to the sides of the pool, waves in the pool can also come from below! When swimmers move through the water, they send out waves in every direction including downward. Those waves bounce back up at them and make it harder to move through the water. The deeper the pool is, the gentler these waves will be when they come back and hit swimmers. By adding pool depth, swimmers are fighting against less turbulence.
Fast Pool Factor: Circulation
Want to know the most unexpected thing that can make swim competitions unfair? It is the water jets! Unfortunately, most pool have water jets placed randomly around the pool and this means that some swimmers are impacted more than others. While they can give swimmers a boost when they are pushing off from a wall with jets, it can also push them away from wall that they are swimming towards. Swimmers at the far sides of the pool will also find themselves being pushed sideways and slowed down by jets at the side of the pool. By evenly placing jets, the circulation of the pool is well balanced.
Fast Pool Factor: Starting Blocks
Starting blocks in pools around the planet have changed so much lately! The old days of too-high, too-slippery starting blocks are slowly but surely becoming a distinct memory. After being introduced at the Swimming World Cup in 2009, the new track-style of pool starting blocks with a back lip have become all the rage and are seriously affecting swimmers times. After seeing the new starting blocks in full use at the London Summer Olympics, this new style of starting blocks has seriously transformed the swimming game.
So, swimmers, next time you are in a fast pool, take a moment to appreciate all of the intricate planning that went into that amazing pool.