Terry and Shinji enjoying a synch swim
The following post was originally published by Terry Laughlin on Aug. 1, 2013. As of today, the video below of Coach Shinji Takeuchi has nearly 1.7 million views on YouTube.
The liveliest thread on the TI Discussion Forum [now archived from 2013] at the moment is titled “a question about continuance” with, as of this morning, 59 posts, which have drawn over 1300 views. What’s curious about this thread is that the initial query was about how to swim faster, yet the bulk of discussion has centered on various forms of “superslow” practice.
Such a discussion could occur nowhere else but the TI Forum!
I should clarify that swimming more slowly isn’t the object. Rather it’s to improve at swimming with consummate ease and to explore your ability to slow particular aspects of the stroke, while maintaining overall flow and body control.
Martial artists have long known the value of moving as slowly as possible to increase awareness, control, fluency and integration. It’s a harder sell in the swimming world.
It’s also a much more exacting skill in the water than on land. Slower movement highlights errors in Balance and Stability, which makes it exceedingly valuable.
This morning, Ken B posted the following:
I’m enjoying this discussion. I am 74, with the usual age related challenges. Continuing to swim with ease into my 80’s is my main mission. This winter I’ve been pushing gently off the end of the pool feeling the delicious, effortless glide, then trying to maintain that feeling to the other end. If I achieve a clean, well-timed catch and maintain my original long-axis posture, and breathe with absolutely no head lift, I can drift into the far wall with no energy used at all. I know I’m getting somewhere because I looked up this morning to find I had an audience.
Ken captured the spirit of this enterprise exactly. He recognizes that swimming this way is a highly exacting and very rewarding SKILL.
For the goals, priorities, and – yes – values Ken cites for his swimming, he could hardly make a better choice than this.
My goals are similar to Ken’s. I wish to swim well, enjoy it limitlessly, and even continue improving for 25 to 30 more years.
My initial lengths every day– I call it my Tuneup– is guided by exactly the thoughts and actions Ken describes. But with the addition of a “side game.”
While swimming as easily as I can, I also time myself, often for 100y/m repeats. When doing so, I always swim faster over a series of 6 or more 100s– even while trying to maintain my initial sense of relaxation.
While doing these, I often visualize how my swimming would appear to an audience–as Ken found himself with the other day. This turns my Tuneup series into a Beauty Contest as well as an Exercise in Ease.
But even with far-off goals of breaking age group records or winning world titles, the main reason I swim this way is that it feels so amazingly good — in both body and psyche — in the moment I’m doing it.
The video of TI Coach Shinji illustrates something like what I describe and strive for. But I try to make my 2-Beat Kick even gentler than you’ll see in the underwater segment. This is because I’m trying for maximum ease and relaxation, not minimum stroke count, in my Tuneup swims. Happy Laps!
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