It wasn't until recently that I discovered how different pools can be from each other. Some pools are "faster" than others, depending on depth, drainage, etc, while others are "slower". If you go to the same pool time after time, you wouldn't know any better. So far this season, I've swum in 3 different pools during training.
Pool #1 is what I call my home base. It is a 25 yard pool at a local high school and is open year round. I go here most often because it is convenient and also has a lot of strong swimmers, so it forces me to push myself faster. However, it is also the most crowded of the three. Regardless of whether its 5 am or 6 pm, the pool is packed and I am forced to share lanes with 3, sometimes 4 others.
Pool #2 has been the "slow" pool. Pool #2 is also a 25 yard pool, but is more shallow, which makes my times slower, as I now understand. Although it is much nicer and cleaner than Pool #1, I am frustrated that my times are significantly slower when training in Pool #2. This is TT home base, as it is located 'sclosest to her and she prefers to go here, rather than Pool #1. When we swim together, we go to Pool #2.
Pool #3 is the latest addition to the pool rotation. Pool #3 is a 50 meter pool with no lap lanes. Although this can get chaotic when it is a busy time, I am finding this pool to be exponentially more beneficial to training than any 25 yard pool I have swum in. As long as people swim straight (I realize this is asking a lot), there are no incidents. However, the lack of swim lanes creates a feel of the water in a race situation. Being able to swim 50 meters straight with a little chop is a perfect simulation of what it feels like to swim in any river or lake I have swam in.
Pool #3 makes me appreciate the value of a good pool. The benefits I have gained from swimming in this pool (twice so far), have exceeded any benefit from swimming in those puny 25 yard pools. Since I don't have much access to open water swimming, Pool #3 will serve as my test lab for the rest of the season. I would imagine most people don't have easy access to open water venues as well, so I'd recommend at least giving a 50 meter pool a try to get somewhat of a "feel" for open waters.