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Terry (center) at 2006 Masters World Championship

In a blog post two weeks ago, we shared the “Endurance Skills” practice set that Terry Laughlin (founder of Total Immersion) offered in swim clinics that he taught at the Multisport World Expo at MIT in 2009.  At that same expo, Terry also gave a lecture– with illustrating video demonstrations– on the skills of what he termed “Perpetual Motion Freestyle”– a fluid, smooth, and efficient stroke that is designed to endure over long distances, and is particularly well-suited to open-water swimming. This week’s blog highlights a thoroughly-indexed breakdown of his lecture, including embedded video, annotated with time signatures, so you can click ahead to specific aspects of the discussion that most interest you.

To watch Terry’s talk in its entirety, click here:  Perpetual Motion Freestyle YouTube Playlist (7 videos)


 What is “Perpetual Motion Freestyle?” (2:53)


Demonstration of the perfected Perpetual-Motion freestyle by Terry Laughlin– both in practice and racing– in open water,  pool, and the Endless Pool

0:01Terry Laughlin’s freestyle in open water

0:32The Perpetual-Motion freestyle stroke in an Endless Pool at the T.I. Swim Studio

1:30Terry demonstrates fast, smooth open water racing in the 2006 Masters World Championship


Expo Talk, Part 1: Total Immersion Perpetual Motion Freestyle (12:48)



Philosophy and Freestyle Misconceptions:

0:01Terry’s Early Struggles with Swimming

4:39 - Four World Masters Championships in the Last Three Years

5:50The Huge Difference Coaching Makes

6:35 - The Aesthetic Approach to Coaching

7:17 - The Improvement-Oriented Swimmer

7:53 - Work Less, Swim Better

8:40 - Shaping Your Body as a Fuselage

9:00 - What WON’T Make You Faster

12:30What WILL Make You Faster


Expo Talk, Part 2: Total Immersion Perpetual Motion Freestyle (9:23)

0:01Propulsive Forces v. Resistive Forces: Winning the Battle

1:14Sustainability, Not Velocity

3:55Stroke Length x Stroke Rate

4:37 - Why Work Less? The Three Percent Solution

8:10Active Streamlining: Swimming with Less Drag


Expo Talk, Part 3: Total Immersion Perpetual Motion Freestyle (9:59)

0:01 -  Manhattan Island Marathon: Motor Endurance & Mental Endurance in long-distance

1:28Path of least resistance: cooperate with gravity, legs draft behind torso

3:09 – Weight shifts for propulsion (integrated core body power v. “pulling” and “kicking”); skip to 3:30 to view footage & analysis of Terry racing in 2006 World Masters Championship 

5:32Pool footage: “Human swimming” vs. T.I. “Fishlike” Perpetual Motion Freestyle

7:09 – Relaxed hand with palm down– better traction in catch; Michael Phelps’s early vertical forearm   


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To continue watching Parts 4, 5, and 6, view the full Perpetual Motional Freestyle YouTube Playlistor click on time signatures below:

Part 4:  0:01Propulsion1:05Creating the “Perpetual-Motion” Freestyle; 2:22 - Release Your Head; 3:14Rotate “Just Enough”; 7:05 – Skating Practice

Part 5: 0:01 - The X/Y Coordinates for the Reach; 0:50 - The Underswitch; 1:50Propel by Driving the High Hip; 3:22 - The Zen Switch; 5:08 - Question and Answer

Part 6: 0:16 The Reason Why Some People Are Sinkers; 0:34 The Surprising Facts about Achieving Buoyancy; 1:07 The Benefits of the Superman Glide; 1:39 The Importance of Breathing on Both Sides; 2:44 The Proper Arm and Hand Position When Swimming