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  #1  
Old 04-25-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Why I'm no longer a Distance Freestyler

I wanted to share what I believe is the most valuable insight this year has brought: How much fun I've had focusing on my 'weaker' events, and the way in which it has radically (meaning 'from the roots') shifted my almost lifelong identity as a swimmer.

Last fall - preparing to turn 60 - I set goals to to match or improve on what I had done five years ago when I entered the 55-59 age group -- to swim at a very high level in the events in which I've had my highest national rankings, won national championships and broken national records -- the longer freestyles. I had, after all, thought of myself as a distance freestyler from my first year of competitive swimming, in 10th grade in 1965. Nothing that has happened since had ever cause me to doubt that is where my destiny lie.

But in the late fall, I began to suffer a recurrence of an autoimmune condition that makes any form of exertion difficult and painful. My distance freestyle times were so depressingly slow that I thought of focusing on shorter events and the other strokes, reasoning they were softer and would provide more encouragement.

Before long I began to really think differently about them. I have preached for so long that accomplishment is due far less to innate ability than to the habits of Deliberate Practice. It dawned on me that I had been limiting my own sense of possibility for the other disciplines and shorter distances by taking the mental shortcut of thinking I had more innate ability in freestyle. When I considered that an equally examined approach to developing them might eliminate the accomplishment gap, my outlook changed dramatically and my practice performance improved in leaps and bounds.

Several weeks ago I realized that one of the things I do at a very high level in freestyle is execute difficult tasks -- being able to swim a range of stroke counts and a range of paces at each stroke count, and combine them in countless ways that develops neural agility. When I tried similar sets in other strokes, or stroke-combo's (like Fly-Back, or Back-Breast) I found I was utterly unable to do that. The last 3-4 weeks I've focused on that and made exciting progress.

I'll swim a few more pool meets prior to starting OW season, but am already excited about pursuing excellence in 100-200 in all strokes and 200-400 IM next winter and spring. I've already marked the 2012 Nationals on my calendar.
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2011
Janos Janos is offline
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Terry, that is news! Sorry to hear that health issues are forcing you to change your course slightly. Respect to you though for adapting your outlook to suit, and carrying on.
What adjustments to your freestyle technique, if any, will you make for the shorter distance race events?

Kind Regards

Janos
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Old 04-25-2011
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
...
It dawned on me that I had been limiting my own sense of possibility for the other disciplines and shorter distances by taking the mental shortcut of thinking I had more innate ability in freestyle. ...
Just wait until it dawns upon you that regarding yourself to be a swimmer is limiting your sense of possibilities...

Terry, I think this ability of yours to remain open to changes is the most valuable one for your personal and the entire TI's success. It is the panacea and safeguard against fanatism, takes patience and often doesn't get understood, but is unfailing in the long run and never leaves you empty handed.
Congratulations!
Or, to use the modern simplify-the-world-and-handle-it-with-one-click-as-if-it-was-black-and-white-only diction: I like it.


Hang on in there...
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  #4  
Old 04-25-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Meant to say I'm no longer ONLY a distance swimmer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janos View Post
Sorry to hear that health issues are forcing you to change your course slightly.
Janos

Actually I'm grateful for the illness since it resulted in a more open sense of possibility. I never recognized this prior to age 50, but since then I've found that illness and injury can be opportunities, not necessarily inconveniences.

Besides being prodded to pursue Mastery in other events, it has also given me a window to understand how it might feel to try to keep your performance standard high at 75 or beyond.

And I should clarify. I will STILL be a distance freestyler for about six months of the year. I think it will be stimulating to be an All Disciplines swimmer for six months and a distance freestyler for the other six months.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2011
Grant Grant is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
Besides being prodded to pursue Mastery in other events, it has also given me a window to understand how it might feel to try to keep your performance standard high at 75 or beyond.
I am sure I speak for Richard as well as myself and others in the 70+ age bracket that it is really exciting for us that you have taken this interest in keeping / gaining performance standards high. Also your delving into your six month winter program will bring many insights and tools for all of us to work with.
I really feel that incorporating TI fundementals into my sprint practice has allowed me to steadily improve and as well really enjoy success in the longer pool races of 400, 800 and 1500M.
You bring alot to our tables. The old saying out of the East comes to mind. When the student is ready the teacher will arrive. Know that you are appreciated and respected.
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Old 04-25-2011
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CoachDave CoachDave is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by terry View Post
Janos

Actually I'm grateful for the illness since it resulted in a more open sense of possibility. I never recognized this prior to age 50, but since then I've found that illness and injury can be opportunities, not necessarily inconveniences.
This is my inspiration for the day. Thanks, Terry.

A few TI facebook friends have seen me boast about one of my clients who came to me when, after chemo, she was unable to do her old activities because of her lack of strength. She wanted to learn to swim for conditioning but also for finding a place where her body was supported and her mind was challenged. She didn't speak strong English, but the TI approach of early drills and generating comfort calmed her down and showed her how less effort would bring greater fulfillment in her swimming. On the third lesson, she made it across the pool and didn't stop- she jumped all the way up to 100 yards. The next lesson, she went to 500. I think she's finished about half of her lessons in happy tears because her illness resulted in a new part of her life emerging. I've seen her in the pool every day practicing on her own between lessons, and she loves to listen to other swimmers talk about their swimming in the hot tub.
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  #7  
Old 04-26-2011
AWP AWP is offline
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Very inspiring 'testimonials' here, and Terry I just knew the "only" was missing. After all we still have a Sound to cross together :-)
Sometime back in December I believe, I'd stated my intentions/goal for all disciplines practice and the pursuit of seeking the path to Mastering them all.
No illnesses here (knock on wood) and I'll turn a mere 46 y.o. this summer. So my motivation is simply a desire to enhance what has already become a part of me and so glad to be in such good company in doing it. I can only imagine the great practice sets we'll receive now! Let us ...

Swim on,
Alan
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Old 04-26-2011
LennartLarsson LennartLarsson is offline
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Terry,

You are such an inspiring person and I am truly glad to have come to know you. I have, as you know, always seen myself as a marathon runner, but injuries put an end to it in 2003. In 2005 i found my new sport; OW swimming. Two years later I came in contact with you and TI and that is when it really started to move. I am becoming a better swimmer every year and now at the age of 62 I am better than ever and pretty okay in my age group. Your attitude could help millions of people from feeling helpless and depressed. It is never to late to learn, there is always a possibility, it is never to late.

My new project Terry, that I have not told you: I am building up my backstroke with the goal of joining the Swedish Masters Championships on 50 meter back in March next year. My first test was made at 52 sec. Now I am down to 47 and when I get that turn to work - I am still loosing direction after the flip turn - I will break 45 sec. That will not take too long. We will see where it leads. But first comes the OW season. By the way, I might show up in Lake George. I would like to swim my first 10 K and we don't have that distance in masters swimming here, at least from what I know. It would be great to see you then. It is a bit close to the European Masters in Yalta, so it might be a problem. Traveling is tough for an old guy.

Thanks Terry for your good mood!

/Lennart
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Old 04-26-2011
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LennartLarsson View Post
My new project Terry, that I have not told you: I am building up my backstroke with the goal of joining the Swedish Masters Championships on 50 meter back in March next year. My first test was made at 52 sec. Now I am down to 47 and when I get that turn to work - I am still loosing direction after the flip turn - I will break 45 sec.
I just decided yesterday to do the Lake George swims. I already have races the prior 3 weekends -- all USMS Championships. I'll do the 3 races at Lake George with more of an intent to have a fun experience. (Yet having said that, once the race starts I'm fairly sure the 'irresistible intensity' will emerge.)

I'm excited for you and your project. As recently as two years ago, I had written a Vision for TI that expressed an intention to focus our efforts almost exclusively on inspiring and guiding adults toward distance swimming. But now I see that would be limiting the potential Kaizen paths they could pursue after achieving the kind of progress you have.

As you said, your identity was formerly limited to 'marathon runner' but you since learned that by observing the principles of Mastery, you could also reach a pretty rarefied level of achievement in distance swimming. So why stop there?

In 2012 I want to begin swimming Masters events in other countries. March should be a highly opportune time and it would be good to mix in some SCM races with the SCY races offered here. Please let me know the date for that Swedish meet.

PS: I now consider Backstroke my weakest stroke. I swam 2:55 for 200 BK in the Zone Championships but did so with splits of 45-44-43-41. That last 50 split x 4 would equal a 2:45, so my goal for 2012 is to go 2:45 or under - which, not coincidentally, is the Adirondack Masters 60-64 record.
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Terry Laughlin
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 04-26-2011 at 10:24 AM.
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  #10  
Old 04-26-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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I,too, have been fortunate in having only minor health problems so far at age 75 (76 in Masters terms) and I believe that embarking on masters swimming at age 71 after discovering TI was the best thing I have ever done. I started out as a breaststroker ( almost exclusively) and having finally learned a decent front crawl after a lifetime of frustration, thanks to the original Total Immersion book, which I now regard as the best book on swimming ever written - up there with Swimming The American Crawl by Johnny Weissmueller and The Science of Swimming by James Counsilman, I have now added backstroke and butterfly to my repertoire ( although the butterfly is still faulty and liable to disqualification, I am hopeful that I will crack it soon).

In terms of FINA points (for which there is a handy downloadable calculator on the FINA web site) my best stroke is still the breaststroke, with my highest points so far in long course in the 50m and my highest in short course the 100m last year, when I managed an amazing improvement of about four seconds, pulled along by a faster swimmer, for which I am truly grateful - thanks, Les.

This year I managed a somewhat surprising best time in the 200m back long course, scoring more FINA points than in any of my freestyle events, which I hope is an omen for the future. It is still an extremely slow time and ladies in their eighties can still speed past me so there is obviously plenty of room for improvement.

Many of the swimmers I have met in the last few years have had brushes with serious illness or degenerative disease: several have recovered from cancer and some have had double hip replacements, but they plug on regardless, loving every minute.

Few pursuits have such capabilities for life enhancement.

This year I plan to enter the sea, which is a matter of a few hundred yards from my front door, but I hear it is still rather cold ( feckin' freezin' is the term in Ireland) . There was to be a sea swim in Aberystwyth in July in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution but it has been cancelled ( for lack of interest according to the lady I communicated with, which I find a bit hard to believe - I think something else is involved). There is a similar event in North Wales -Llandudno - but I don't feel like making the trip just for one swim, even if it is 750 or 1500m.

Onward and upward!
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