Swimming in Hotels with the Stationary Swimmer

Work has recently taken me away from my beloved Chinatown YMCA to business hotels with lovely but tiny pools. Two weeks ago I was at the Ayres Hotel in Costa Mesa, and yesterday I spent the night at the Hotel Angeleno in Los Angeles. Both hotels have beautiful pools, but, as is the case with almost every hotel in which I’ve stayed, the pools are much, much shorter than 25y. The Ayres has two pools; I swam in the square one, which is located in an internal patio. It is almost square-shaped, and my stroke measure puts the diagonal line at about 14y.

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The Angeleno has a rectangular pool near its concierge area, surrounded by lovely pool structures and close to a little gym. My stroke measure puts the length at 10y.

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Both times I did short daily workouts for the duration of my stay – I really couldn’t muster more than 40-45 minutes in tiny pools. It’s lovely to do a sunrise workout before a long workday, but there’s only so much flip turning one can do before getting nauseous. After my trip to the Ayres I decided t that my business travel plans for the year (which are really extensive; it’s turning out to be a massive year at work) require some solution to the tiny pool problem, and on a friend’s recommendation I bought this thing:

Stationary Swimmer

There’s nothing too sophisticated about the Stationary Swimmer. It’s basically a bungee cord attached to two sets of velcro straps, designed to go on your ankles and around your feet. There are similar contraptions that attach to your body as a belt, but the problem with those is that the bungee cord needs to be tied fairly high out of the water so that it’s not in your way. These straps, however, drag behind you as you swim.

It’s a very strange experience to swim in place, and completely unlike swimming in place against a current, as the case is with Endless Pools. I’ve swum against currents before–remember my hour-and-a-half treadmill experience in Tampa?–but this is different. It feels, unsurprisingly, as if someone is holding your legs. There is something about the way the water organizes itself around you that subtly changes your stroke; you don’t create the sort of wake you’re used to, and it changes breathing and other things.

Pros: Allows you to work out far away from home. Fairly easy to put together. Allows for stroke-centered workouts that focus on body rolling and subtle modifications, rather than speed.

Cons: Weird feeling. Velcro straps require adjustment every few minutes. Boring as hell.

The upshot: A stupid workout is better than no workout.