The ingenious triathlete fitted his personal pool when he moved house before the Covid-19 pandemic started to disrupt sport and training.
It could not be further removed from the warmth of Bermuda where the 31-year-old, and his younger brother Jonny, were due to be competing this weekend as part of the ITU World Triathlon Series and Olympic qualifiers.
But this masterstroke in forward planning means that the gold medal winner at the London and Rio Olympics is able to continue all three triathlon disciplines – swimming, cycling and running – within social distancing protocols.
“I am just doing what I can – and what I have always done – while respecting all the guidelines,” Brownlee told The Yorkshire Post.
This Heath Robinson-like giant-sized bath is deceptive in size once Brownlee has moved the garage clutter to one side and positioned his step ladder so that he can climb into the water.
Five metres long, it is designed to pump out powerful flumes of water that are programmed to test the champion’s strength and resistance.
After all, it is Brownlee’s prowess in the water which has allowed him to dominate his sport like no other.
And while this is one of the more novel garage conversions in Leeds, a similar innovation was crucial to his golden success in London in 2012. An unfortunate Achilles injury left him in a race against time to get back to full fitness. Yet, by setting up an underwater treadmill in his garden, he was able to continue running with little disruption.
“It was really, really crucial,” he said. “For a period of six weeks, I couldn’t do any running training as such. It meant that I could do my running while the Achilles fully recovered. This works on a similar basis. It’s like swimming against the tide in a fast flowing river. All I’m doing is swimming on the spot while the water is moving around me.
“Since I was eight, I have gone swimming every day – the pool at Aireborough Leisure Centre, with school and with the triathlon squads. It means I can swim 40 to 45 minutes each morning.”
This matters because Brownlee, and all his fellow competitors, have “no idea” when triathlon competitions will resume or whether this will be a blank year.
Supportive of the IOC taking an early decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for 12 months, he, nevertheless, knows that he must be still prepared for every eventuality. “The week before I heard about the cancellation, I was feeling fit and as good as I’ve felt for some time,” added Brownlee.
“Hopefully I will be in a good place to give it a shout next year.”
It won’t be for a lack of effort from one of Yorkshire’s ultimate competitors.
Echoes of Seb Coe
ALISTAIR Brownlee swam to Olympic gold in the Serpentine in Hyde Park – and then the Pacific Ocean off the Rio coast four years later.
Yet his latest innovation has echoes of Seb Coe going the extra mile in Sheffield ahead of his gold medal wins in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.
Under his late father Peter’s tutelage, he always trained on Christmas Day because he was certain that his great rival Steve Ovett would be doing the same.