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Michael Phelps Trains for the London Olympics
As U.S. swimming Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps prepares for the Summer Games, he has also teamed up with Master Spas on a signature line of swim spas.
By Debra Maurer
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London are only months away, and you can guarantee that all eyes will be on swimming champion Michael Phelps as he competes in what he has declared as his final Olympic Games. After an awe-inspiring eight gold medal wins in Beijing in 2008, he’s been training harder than ever—not only in the pool, but also in a Master Spas swim spa, the design of which he and his coach Bob Bowman provided input.
Swim Spas on the Rise
The Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas by Master Spas were first introduced in November 2010 at the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo, which Phelps attended to promote the brand. The swim spas became available for purchase from dealers nationwide in January 2011. Over the past year, Master Spas has seen a continued growth in interest and sales of the Signature Series. Clearly, Phelps’ record-breaking wins and medal milestones have brought much more attention to the sport of swimming, especially during an Olympic year. The Signature line of swim spas serves to benefit not only competitive swimmers, including Phelps, but also consumers of any fitness level.
Michael Phelps’ Training
In October 2011, Master Spas’ CEO Bob Lauter, along with a group of Master Spas dealers, visited the Meadowbrook Aquatics Center in Baltimore, Md. There, they had a chance to observe Phelps training in the swim spa and understand its many benefits.
“[The underwater camera] is great for teaching because all the important stuff happens underwater—not on top,” said Bowman in footage from the event posted on Master Spas’ YouTube channel. “You can stay in one spot and see how the swimmer’s body reacts to different speeds without having to move around.”
Phelps also finds the underwater camera to be a major advantage: “I can look at stroke technique, how I’m catching the water, if my hips are late or if they’re early. I’m a visual learner so if I’m able to see what I’m doing wrong, I’m able to pick up on it and move on and make those small little corrections.” Both Phelps and Bowman can watch the recording at a slower speed to focus on Phelps’ movements and see how everything is connected.
The adjustable current is another key component for training. “We’ll start out at a relatively slow speed so [the
swimmers] can have very good technique and don’t have to be stressed by the effort that they’re going to have to put in to keep up with the spa,” said Bowman. “And then I’ll gradually increase the speed as they go so they get more of a training effect.”
The Signature model used by Phelps features a wide range of speeds to accommodate swimmers at any fitness level; plus, users can do much more than swim laps in the swim spa. “You can do drills, kicking, pulling, and anything else we’d do in the regular pool right in the swim spa,” Bowman explained.
The Michael Phelps swim spas have captured the attention of avid swimmers nationwide. While swim spas can be also used for aquatic exercise and family fun, Lauter reports that over 60 percent of customers purchased the Signature Series for swimming. “Michael Phelps is one of the most popular, high-profile athletes. Those interested in swimming are attracted to the name,” says Lauter. “But the fact that Michael is using the swim spa for his training on a regular basis is even more significant.”
In addition to the swim area, each swim spa in the series includes jetted seats for hydrotherapy, adding to their versatility. “Michael will get in the jetted area before a swim to warm his muscles up. He might get back in after and listen to music. The water is the same temperature in that model [as opposed to the Momentum, which has separate temperature controls for the swim and hot tub area], but the jet action alone helps stimulate muscles,” says Lauter. In fact, Master Spas just introduced a Twilight Series hot tub that is customized to Phelps’ exact measurements and will be installed at his residence. This model, dubbed the Twilight MP, is now available to consumers at dealers nationwide.
London and Beyond
With 14 gold medals, we’re willing to bet Phelps will have several more to add to his collection by the end of the Olympic Games this summer. As he ends his stellar Olympic career, we’ll be excited to see the rising stars who follow in his footsteps (or, rather, his flipturns) as well as the typically “nonathletic” individuals who may take a greater interest in swimming because of the attention he’s brought to the sport.
After London, Phelps will continue to be involved in the sport of swimming through his efforts with the Michael Phelps Foundation and Michael Phelps Swim School. The Michael Phelps Foundation’s signature program – im – is being implemented through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (currently in 16 Clubs, expanding to 28 Clubs this summer) as well as an international pilot program with Special Olympics International, which is currently running in the U.S., U.K., Brazil, India, China, South Africa, and Australia.
The Michael Phelps Swim School is a learn-to-swim program for all ages and abilities that is designed to help individuals become comfortable, confident, and safe in and around the water. Based in Baltimore, Md., the Michael Phelps Swim School has instructed more than 15,000 individuals. Its programming is available in four locations in Maryland, as well as Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y.
Photo courtesy of Master Spas, Inc.
Any Swimmer, Anytime
In addition to developing a swim spa that can be used by competitive swimmers, it was important for the Signature Series to suit a wide range of fitness levels, including moderate exercisers and those who are just getting into swimming.
One of Phelps’ major goals—aside from racking up gold medals—has been to promote the sport of swimming. Since access to a community pool might be limited or nonexistent for some people, Phelps believes a swim spa is an ideal solution. Not only does it provide the owner and his family with personal access to swimmable water, it also allows users to improve their abilities and adjust the speed as they work up to higher levels.
“Michael wants to bring more people into the sport,” says Lauter. “This is why swim spas appeal to him. A number of public pools are closing, making it harder for people to have access to water. This is the perfect alternative to a pool.”
The Michael Phelps Signature Swim Spas by Master Spas feature five residential models, retailing for $29,995 to $44,500, based on size and features. The smallest model, the MP Impact, features three molded hot tub seats with a total of 51 jets. The largest model is the MP Momentum, which includes a five-person hot tub that is sectioned off from the swim area by a clear divider. The model with the largest swim area is the MP Signature model, which is used by Phelps at Meadowbrook.
For one Master Spas customer, Miles McDonough of Bedford, Mass., swimming is an important way to stay in shape, namely because it’s a low-impact activity. “I’m a big skier and snowboarder, but I have bad knees so I can’t run,” he says. McDonough loves the advantage of having his own private swim spa right outside his back door. “I used to go to a public pool, but my eyes would get irritated because I had to wear my contacts. By swimming in place against a current at home, I don’t need to wear my contacts or worry about running into people.”
McDonough keeps his swim spa running all year and uses it almost every day. “I’ll get in, soak for a bit, stretch for 20 – 30 minutes, then begin my swim. I also use the resistance bands to work out my arms,” he says. On the weekends, McDonough relaxes by taking full advantage of the therapy seats. In the winter, he’ll set it to 92 degrees F; come summer, he’ll lower it to accommodate the warm weather.
Photo courtesy of Master Spas, Inc.
Visit the Michael Phelps Swim Spas by Master Spas website to learn more.
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