Classic investment advice says invest in what you like and what you yourself use. Mark Bakula, an American entrepreneur in Japan, takes that advice to heart.
“I own stock in Apple Computer because I think it’s the best computer available and it’s what I use. Likewise, I feel SwimEx is the best counter-current pool available,” Mark says. “I became a SwimEx dealer because the chance to be involved in a business that offers an excellent product that is an important purchase for the customer's lifestyle is attractive to me.”
Mark’s first encounter with SwimEx was installing one in his own home. When he discovered a lap pool would not fit into his building plans, he started surfing the Internet and found SwimEx’s counter-current technology, quality materials and rugged construction. He chose the 500-OS, since he’s over six feet tall and appreciates the extra depth, added seats and running pad.
“I also feel it’s the most cost-effective of the residential pools. Price-wise, it was comparable to the quote I received from Endless Pools here in Japan, so it felt like getting three times the quality or more for roughly the same price. Endless always reminds me of something I'd come up with if I was told to go to the hardware store and build my own pool,” Mark observed.
His partner, athletic trainer Koichi Yasuda, uses it for aquatic therapy education and programs in their joint venture. Mark uses it for exercise, a little rehab, a sometime showroom, a little stress relief, and occasionally as fun when relatives come to visit.
“Since I play basketball with relatively reckless abandon, I'm often injuring my ankles, knees, fingers and shoulders, so I'm sure I'll be constantly rehabbing ‘something.’ Today it's my knee,” he laughed. “The convenience of an in-home pool allows me to use it to reduce whatever stress accumulates at work (my office is in my home) in addition to more regular exercise with less joint stress that, of course, can only bring positive results.”
Once delivered, installation of the one-piece pool proved easy enough. “The electrical and plumbing connections to the pre-prepared supply and drainage took all of one and a half days, even though the installers had no experience with a pool,” he says.
Mark’s partner Koichi was flying to the U.S. to attend the annual NATA trainer’s conference and happened to be on the same plane as Kazuhiro Kiyohara, a player for Japan’s Orix Buffaloes professional baseball team. Kiyohara’s trainer was an old friend of Koichi’s, and he explained that the player was on his way to a consult at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic.
“Kazuhiro Kiyohara was undoubtedly the most famous ballplayer in Japanese baseball, but he had injured his knee a few seasons ago and had never been able to rehabilitate it properly, with two unsuccessful comeback attempts,” Mark explains. “My partner introduced them to SwimEx as a rehab tool. When Kiyohara discovered that both the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic and the Dodgers used a SwimEx, and when the consulting doctor naturally suggested using it as the focal point of his rehabilitation, Kiyohara felt fate was at work – his words – and he decided to purchase a 700-OT from us.”
The story was picked up by numerous media outlets in Japan, as Kiyohara’s fans hoped to see him in action once again. The SwimEx was installed at the Orix Buffaloes’ training facilities and, within six months from the start of rehab, at the age of 41, Kiyohara was already practicing with the farm team, hitting his first home runs in two years, and recently had his first hit, extra base hit, and RBIs upon rejoining the major league club.