Ten days ago, I received an email notification to moderate a new comment on my recent blog “Guaranteed” Speed: Swim Faster the Smart Way While I receive such notifications every day, something about this one caught my attention: The commenter was from Saudi Arabia–the first time since founding TI in 1989, I’d heard of a TI fan in that country. So I emailed back to inquire how he’d become interested in TI. The story Amir Khan shared with me was so unique I invited him to tell it in a guest post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
By Amir Khan
This is the story of how I went, in one month, from a ‘nightmare’ relationship with swimming to a dream of becoming the first TI Coach in Saudi Arabia. It began when we moved to a community with a 25- meter pool. My youngest son Humza immediately became fascinated with the idea of swimming. I’d taught him squash, badminton, basketball, and many other things. He thought of me as his superhero.
My wife chimed in, asking me almost daily when I would teach Humza to swim. I didn’t have the heart to reveal my guilty secret to them: As a grown man, I still couldn’t swim myself. How would that look in Humza’s eyes?
Outside swimming, I was accustomed to setting goals, working diligently, and achieving them. After carving out a successful career as a CPA, at 36, I became Chief Financial Officer of a billion-dollar corporation. At 44, I was an uplifting example for my community, family, and son, yet haunted by failure as a swimmer.
I couldn’t disappoint my son. I needed to learn to swim. And quickly. But how?
My swimming ‘nightmare’ began at age 7, when my mother took me to the school swimming coach. She didn’t have to force me. I was as excited about learning to swim then as Humza is now. But my excitement was quickly extinguished.
The coach’s militaristic manner, the endless kicking, and the feeling of dragging my body through the water discouraged and depressed me so much that I told my mother I would quit school rather than continue with swimming classes.
After 37 years it was time to confront and conquer my lifelong demon. The esteem of my family and son was at stake.
After joining a gym with a 25-yard pool, I browsed YouTube for swimming examples and tips. But it seemed as if nothing had changed in 35 years—coaches telling me to work hard and kick more.
Fortunately I found a video of Terry Laughlin demonstrating TI. I was mesmerized by his calm grace. I’d never seen anyone swim like that—he looked like a happy dolphin enjoying the touch of water!
Another video showed someone demonstrating Superman. I tried that on my next visit to the pool. A few minutes of gliding effortlessly, feeling almost like I was flying, was all it took to convince me this was the solution I’d sought.
I returned home and ordered a downloadable TI self-coaching program. Minutes later it was on my desktop. I began studying it immediately. I felt I’d found a magic wand for swimming transformation!
I started practicing Superman, Torpedo, Skate–taking a few strokes after each. I began to fall in love with swimming, spending over two hours each time practicing and enjoying the TI way.
My fellow swimmers were skeptical. They said I was wasting my time and should go back to kicking with a board. The swim coach was no more encouraging: After watching me practice balance and streamline drills, he asked, “What are you doing; you can’t swim even 10 feet this way.” I replied, “I’m using the TI method to learn to swim like Terry Laughlin.”
But after 10 days of practice, I completed my first full length of the pool, and was still breathing easily at the finish. After seeing this, the coach said, “Whatever you’re doing is working; keep it up.” And after only 10 more days, I swam a full kilometer with rest breaks along the way.
I was fortunate to discover TI at the very start and avoid wasting time. I followed the TI method in spirit and as described step by step. I wonder if I’m the first person in Saudi Arabia who is practicing TI.
While few people here speak English, Saudi Arabia is a quite prosperous country with per capita income almost on par with the US. I believe interest in TI will grow as more people see it for themselves. The other swimmers at my pool can’t believe that I learned on-line. They ask if I’m keeping a secret. But now they want to learn TI, and I’m helping them as best I can.
I also created a TI fan club on an iPhone app. Within days it had more than 35 members—20 from my pool, plus others from my neighborhood. Though I was a non-swimmer just a month ago, I already feel inspired to become the first TI Coach in Saudi Arabia.
Who could imagine that an on-line program could create such complete transformation so quickly? But the TI method is logical, natural, and easy to follow. And swimming the TI way feels like following a stream of water as it flows from the hills to the sea.
I also love the Kaizen philosophy. Each time I dive into the pool I have key points to focus on and I always leave the pool happy and feeling that I’m a better swimmer than before.
My next goal is to swim open water, ideally with Terry! Before becoming a coach I must continue improving my freestyle. And I already have my New Year’s resolution: In January I will begin using my Academy subscription to learn Butterfly the TI way, followed by learning TI Breaststroke.
I am a proud father, an exemplary figure for my son—and a future TI Coach. No one but my fellow swimmers knows that only a month ago I couldn’t even float. My neighbors now say I swim like a fish!