Naval architects observe principles of physics and hydrodynamics in designing a sea-worthy vessel. Nature followed the same principles in the evolution of fish like the barracuda and aquatic mammals like the dolphin.
TI is the only swimming method to observe the same laws and principles in shaping and propelling a human ‘vessel.’ Three decades of experience—and countless thousands of teaching opportunities–have definitively shown that teaching three foundations in this order Balance–>Streamline–>Propel brings better outcomes faster than any other approach.
Our first goal is to create a balanced vessel, one that can maintain a horizontal, comfortable, low-drag position with a minimum of kicking or heartbeats. We achieve this by cooperating with the natural forces of gravity and buoyancy
A balanced body will rest parallel to—but mostly beneath–the surface with just 5% of body mass above the surface. When the body is balanced that 5% will be distributed all along the body—a ‘slice’ of the head, some upper back, a glimpse of one buttock, then the other.
Since the head, by itself, is 8% of body mass, if most of it is visible above the surface, other body parts must sink. Thus our first Balance mini-skill is to release the head’s weight to rest upon the water. When we do, we should see only a hand-sized slice of the back of the head above the surface. This is true for all strokes.
Another balancing action is to extend the bodyline fully in each stroke—improving water displacement by extend the body over more water-surface area. In freestyle, a third critical Balancing action is to enter early and reach forward at an angle that will put the hand below the bodyline at full extension or Catch.
A balanced and stable vessel allows the swimmer to move the limbs in ways that minimize drag and maximize forward motion, rather than wasting energy fighting gravity. This produces immediate and dramatic energy savings.
Finally, when we are active 90% of the brain’s energy goes maintaining balance—and 90% of that energy goes into correcting imbalance when it occurs. When the brain senses the body is no longer fighting gravity, is no longer in danger of sinking, it calms down–freeing up mental energy and bandwidth for mastering other efficient-swimming skills—like Streamlining.
Lesson 1 of the 1.0 Effortless Endurance Self-Coaching Course teaches Balance skills.
After establishing a balanced, stable vessel, the swimmer gains the capability to create a shape that moves through the water with a minimum of resistance. The benefits of drag reduction increase as we swim faster since drag goes up as a square of the increase in velocity: 2x faster = 4x more drag. So energy savings from Streamlining can be quite significant—second only to achieving Balance.
Even better, like Balance, actions that improve Streamlining (i) are relatively easy to learn, since they involve mostly whole-body, or larger body part actions, not fine-motor control; and (ii) save far more energy than it takes to execute them.
Three basic Streamlining mini-skills are:
- Shape your ‘vessel’ to be as long, sleek, and stable as possible—as in the Freestyle Skate drill.
- Lengthen your bodyline—and keep it long for a bit more of each stroke cycle.
- Minimize waves, splash (noise), and bubbles as you stroke.
Lesson 3 of the 1.0 Effortless Endurance Self-Coaching Course teaches Streamlining skills.
When your vessel is balanced and streamlined, your arms and legs are freed up to contribute far more effectively toward producing locomotion, rather than diverted to controlling body position and stability, or moving water around.
To a large extent, Propulsion improves automatically as a result of improving Balance and Streamline. At least 75% of maximum propulsive efficiency is achieved while you’re not even concentrating on it—simply by liberating arms and legs from correcting body position/shape errors.
The first three mini-skills of Propulsion are:
- Put hand and arm in position to trap-and-hold the maximum volume of water, then press on the water with patience, care and sensitivity—not heedless application of force. You learn this in the Skate position.
- Calm ‘busy’ legs by achieving Balance, then learn to coordinate a toe-flick on one foot to drive the opposite hand to its Catch position below the bodyline.
- Set your rhythm or tempo, and initiate power from your core, rather than in the arms and shoulders.
Lessons 1-2-3 of the 1.0 Effortless Endurance Self-Coaching Course teach ‘automatic’ Propulsion skills.
The 2.0 Freestyle Mastery Self-Coaching Course teaches expert-level Propulsion skills.