07-11-2011, 06:41 PM
Before I discovered Total Immersion, I found Swim Smooth. I found SS to be very practical and pragmatic, BUT, after studying TI, I often find myself conflicted over the apparent opposing advice between the two.
May I have others' input on this SS link about "Over-Thinking & Under-Achieving"? http://www.feelforthewater.com/2011/07/over-thinking-and-under-achieving.html

07-11-2011, 09:06 PM
I appreciate your curiosity about TI. Could you please provide more specifics on the conflicts you perceive? Otherwise I, and anyone else who might try to resolve those conflicts, would only be guessing as to what they might be.

07-11-2011, 09:31 PM
PS: I could comment briefly on one part of the article you linked. He wrote

Many swimmers, particularly Overgliders, have a tendency to over-think and over-analyse when they swim. They feel a strong urge to focus on every single stroke of every single lap of every single session in case their stroke falls apart or somehow they will not achieve their potential in the water.

Of course it's important to work on areas of your stroke that are holding you back - preferably in a targeted way using coach feedback or video analysis. However, obsessively thinking about the same areas of your technique over and over again soon leads to you hitting a plateau. If you've experienced this you'll know that this 'analysis paralysis' is extremely frustrating!

Over-thinking adds a noticeable pause within your stroke as you analyse you previous stroke and plan your next which kills your natural rhythm and timing. Also, all that mental pressure makes you tense and rigid as you try to be perfect.

His term "Overgliders" has struck some as being intended as a coded criticism of TI, so his inclusion of a link to that article suggests this article is similarly intended.

So let's begin with the term Overgliders. Does it occur among some TI students. Yes it does. Is it possible it also occurs among some SS students? I would bet it does.

But to broadly categorize TI as encouraging that, one needs to ignore or overlook the considerable amount of encouragement and guidance we provide here, in TI books and even in videos for the inclusion of Stroke Counting "gears" sets and Tempo Trainer sets in practice, each of which are intended to help each swimmer organically discover the optimal blend of Length and Rate. We also emphasize that there's no single length or rate that's 'right' for every practice set or race -- and that it can often be in your interest to vary both within a single race or practice repeat.

We emphasize this kind of practice for two reasons:
1) As an alternative--or complement--to Stroke Thoughts, i.e. to find the feeling of flow in your stroke he describes as desirable.
2) As a way of consciously training neural adaptablity or flexibility. The goal is both to create more robust motor networks and to give you a variety of ways of swimming.

Moving from Overgliding to Overthinking, again it's a possibility which I expect most people on this Forum will admit to having experienced from time to time -- and to having learned to balance through experience.

Thinking, just like Moving, is a skill. Most people come to TI with a sense of having done unfocused swimming, or not knowing where they should put their focus. A primary difference of TI from traditional swimming is that we've made a strong statement that swimming should be Mindful. Traditionalists have often pushed back on that.

We've tried to provide guidance for structured, step-by-step, methods of learning both movement and cognitive skills. If any other method has made a similar effort, please clue me in.

Among the many thousands of posts on this Forum I recall very few that described "mental pressure makes you tense and rigid as you try to be perfect." I recall countless posts that described feelings of transcendence, Flow, something near bliss, from the 'moving meditation' that results from targeted Stroke Thoughts.

Those who did experience pressure from pursuing perfection were usually quickly advised there's no such thing as perfection. Rather they should look for a single aspect of the stroke with which you're not quite satisfied. Then focus on improving that one point.

But don't take my word for it. Browse the Forum.

07-12-2011, 12:41 AM
Can't refrain from commenting here...

First of all there is for my senses a fundamental difference between SwimSmooth and TI. I mean there are many differences, but this one is in the general atmosphere that I get from the two approches expressed on their websites.
I sense TI to be in favour of swimming well, not more and not less. That might sound simple but in fact it means that TI is constantly open to improvement, and the main focus of TI is to adapt anything that helps to swim well. Out of that springs the TI 'idea'.
At SwimSmooth I always get the feeling that there is someone who has formed an idea already, or a concept, and now constantly tries to fit reality into it. And to use any argumentation to justify that idea. One aspect of that idea is that it has to oppose TI.
This particular article shows clearly where the misunderstanding of SwimSmooth is: Thinking about the stroke is something completely different than focusing on the stroke. Those two are almost opposites. Focusing on something is an antidote to distraction, and there are people who are saying that being mindful while not being distracted is meditation.
There are of course swimmers out there who think about their stroke while swimming, but that happens only when you have lost your focus (If you ever had one in the first place). TI advocates focused swimming. It is this practice of focusing that can lead to those states that got that name 'flow' state. Anyhow, having spent a certain amount of time with unwavering focus is a pleasent experience itself and brings you in a peaceful and tranquil state of mind, flow state or not. In fact sometimes it is not so easy to distuinguish between a mindful, undistracted state and a flow state.
It seems SwimSmooth is lacking to see this point.
It's a pity because I think this Paul Newsome (that's the Terry of SwimSmooth) is a nice guy who is very much into swimming and coaching and I think he is quite competent, but unfortunately he seems to have this slight tendency of desperately trying to find a unique feature, or a unique selling point. That undermines a bit his otherwise good intentions.

Unfortunately we don't get the idea of being focused and mindful in our daily life. But that makes the focused swimming even more precious. Although - actually it has nothing to do with swimming itself, it has to do with the 'how' we swim. We could clean our house or our apartment with the same attitude - it has the same effect on the mind.

My very personal 0.01... actually it is almost 0.02.

Hang on in there...

07-12-2011, 11:08 AM
I'd previously read a couple of articles on the SS site, after people sent me links and asked for comment. In each case, their reason for seeking my comment was they perceived a criticism in the article or saw a conflict being set up and wanted to give me the opportunity to 'defend' our methodology or philosophy.

In each case I thought the article was soundly written and that the writer displayed a nuanced sense of coaching and improvement. But it's clear he's decided that a profitable theme for his writing is to alert people to the 'dangers of TI.'

It's not uncommon of course and even a compliment to TI as the target others seek to knock down. But at times it puts us in the awkward position of being asked to defend something that either (i) we don't teach or (ii) has been positioned as a central principle of TI, but is actually a peripheral that has been mis-stated or misinterpreted. FQS was a common one, even years after we stopped using the term in favor of Patient Lead Hand.

Just last week I was invited to participate in a 'debate' to be printed in Triathlete mag, in which their 'swim expert' Sara Mclarty would take a traditionalist position and I would counter with a TI position.

But it became, as I said, awkward on my side because the positions she took -- calculated to knock down something she thinks we teach -- were either deeply misinformed (Some 10 years after we began saying Swim OFF your stomach, not ON your side, she was attacking the idea of swimming on your side.) or binary when the reality is nuanced and shaded. She asserted you could EITHER streamline OR propel, seeming not to understand the distinction between Passive Streamline -- pushoff or skating -- and Active Streamlining -- minimizing wavemaking or turbulence while stroking.

Back to SS and TI. Haschu is close to my own interpretation of the distinction. In reading the articles I did, I felt they were targeted mainly at 'performance-oriented' swimmers like Masters and triathletes. No surprise, most coaches think of the audience as people who are training to race.

As Haschu, says, we advocate for swimming well, with full emphasis on the both meanings of the word -- well in a technical sense and well in the sense that your swimming should improve health and happiness.

The new book I'm working on is titled "Swimming that Changes Your Life" and my blog post yesterday was titled The Purpose of Swimming is the Pursuit of Happiness (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1326)

And in today's blog (http://www.swimwellblog.com/archives/1330) I write:
>>Obviously it should improve your swimming. In fact it should transform your swimming, because when you transform anything about yourself that has seemed highly resistant to change, you begin to ask yourself “What else might I be able to change?”

Beyond that it should lift swimming from the realm of the purely physical–a form of exercise–to a form of self-expression. Swimming as the new book advocates should help you feel that you are:

* Using your body intelligently and healthfully.
* Exploring and fulfilling your potential.
* Discovering and developing new capacities.
* Feeling enthusiasm for life and engaged with the world.

And finally you should finish every swim practice feeling balanced, vital, happy and healthy. The key is to remain mindful that feeling that way--rather than swimming a certain distance or time--is your primary goal each time you enter the water.

For a lot of traditionalists from the competitive swimming world, those can be "fightin' words."