About a month ago, after a couple years away from any regular exercise, I joined a gym. It has a 25m pool, and I decided to add swims to my workout. It might bear mentioning that I'm 47, and the last time I swam laps was summer swim team in elementary school, almost 40 years ago.
The first week I could barely put two laps together without finding myself out of breath. I would alternate freestyle laps with slow breast stroke laps just to keep going.
I wanted to see what resources were out there for adult swimmers, and came across TI. I watched all of Terry's MIT presentation, and a few things stuck: (1) vessel length matters; (2) decreasing drag is a lot easier than increasing power; and (3) if you want to cover any real distance, you need to find a "walking" pace. I watched a number of the available YouTube videos, particularly the one comparing Terry, Shinji and Michael Phelps.
To make a long story short, I got back into the pool the next Monday and swam a mile freestyle without stopping. (Somehow the flip turns were still in my memory.) I must be somewhere over a mile now, as I'm swimming an hour three times a week.
Mostly I concentrated on moving from one extended position to the other, and generally let the rest take care of itself. I also forced myself to breath on both sides, which seemed to help balance, and now feels fairly natural. At some point I'll have to learn to add a kick - I'm swimming pretty much without one, as anything I do with my legs only seems to slow me down and add strokes per lap. I'm generally at 20, and occasionally 18 if everything goes smoothly.
The simple introduction to TI and its rather amazing results has already changed me. Here in Cape Town we have the 7.5k Cadiz Freedom Swim, starting at Robben Island. Two weeks ago it seemed unimaginable that somebody like me could swim it. Now I'm thinking, "in a couple of years, why not?" I think I'll enjoy getting better, swim by swim, between now and then.