Total Immersion Forums  

Go Back   Total Immersion Forums > Find a TI Training Buddy
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-07-2009
AnnapolisStar AnnapolisStar is offline
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 1
AnnapolisStar
Default Swimming in the Bahamas

No Swimmers in the Bahamas

During our travels to the Bahamas we have made hundreds of friends and acquaintances from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. These people are pioneers with adventurous spirits but they are not runners or bikers, and even though they live full time on the water most are challenged trying to swim 50 yards. They have never heard of Masters Swimming and most of the Island natives despite being surrounded by water and making their living off the water can’t swim a single stroke. There is no Red Cross, no YMCA, high school or college swim teams or even a swimming pool for them to learn in. They don’t know who Michael Phelps is. Everything is open water and there are some dangers including Hammerheads and Reef sharks, sea urchins and sting rays in the shallows to overcome. The trade winds blow constantly and there is no such thing as a calm day to practice drills. There is, however, the most incredibly clear turquoise blue water, with white sandy beaches and inviting lagoons.

Clash of Cultures

I have been an on/off swimmer for most of my life and prior to going cruising I swam Masters in the Baltimore/Annapolis area and have been practicing Total Immersion for the last twelve years having attended two of the workshops. So in the meeting of two cultures, swimmers v.s. non swimmer, my wife and I decided to try and start a regular program of open water swimming in George Town Exuma for the cruising community so we could have a little fun and get someone to swim with. The cruisers are a captive audience where hundreds of boats spend the winter months and the folks are always looking for something to do. We initiated a total program which included 1) Teaching people how to swim TI, 2) Introducing regular swim practices to reinforce their newly learned skills, and 3) Scheduling events and competitions. We have been modestly successful, are still growing, and we wanted to share some of our experiences with the TI forum.

Total Immersion Clinic in the Bahamas.

I began our program by scheduling a series of Total Immersion clinics that would meet for two hours a day for four days on the beach with homemade cookies during the breaks. Everything was free of course since no Americans can earn money or sell products in the Bahamas. I got on the VHF radio local cruisers’ net each day telling everyone that “It is a great day to swim” and advertised Total Immersion as a new swimming method used by the stars that once mastered would allow swimmers to swim as far as they wanted without getting tired! Everyone listens to the VHF radio in the morning, for weather, news and local events and the response to my announcement was overwhelming – who could resist! My first class was filled immediately with people who were very curious and interested in the obvious safety aspect of being able to swim long distance in open water. I had two other coaches with me, who have also been practicing Total Immersion, and the classes went smoothly. We fashioned our program after the clinics that TI offered. We made a CD, for reference purposes, with music, slides and movies that showed the coaches swimming and doing the drills. We asked for and were given permission from Total Immersion to include in the CD short video clips from the “Fishlike Swimming” DVD of Terry and others doing whole stroke freestyle, so the students would know what Total Immersion swimming was all about. We also of course provided links to the TI web site and reference books where they could get more information. The first part of the program included a beach talk on the basics of TI. We explained the principles of reducing drag including balance, lengthening and streamlining the vessel and the sailors understood immediately, since the same principles are used in making a sailboat go faster. It was easy for them to understand swimming on your side like an Americas Cup race boat as opposed to swimming on your belly like a barge. They all knew that a longer sailboat is faster than a shorter sailboat and extending the arm in front of the head to increase your water line was a natural. They understood well that improving the glide as opposed to stroking harder would reduce energy expenditure and improve your distance.

After the introductory class we went in the water teaching the drills, starting with simple Balance on the Back, then Sweet Spot and progressing through Multiple Over Switches. The last class was devoted to whole stroke swimming and making videos of the swimmers doing their new stroke which we set to music and distributed on CD with commentary so they could see how well they did and what they had to work on. The cruisers took to the drills like fish to water and swimmers who previously could not even put their head in the water were swimming a passable TI stroke within a week. We measured the stroke length at the beginning and end of the class and everyone improved considerably with most swimmers almost doubling their distance per stroke. Most importantly they enjoyed the feeling of swimming with the water and the camaraderie of swimming as a team. Over the last two years we have given a total of five clinics and each clinic has generated more interest in TI as the former students talk with other cruisers at beach parties and cookouts.

The Reasons for a successful program

I think that our coaching success was in large part due to the relative inexperience of the swimmers who did not have to relearn a new stroke and overcome bad habits, and the common principles between sailing and swimming. While triathletes are motivated by the competition, and Masters Swimmers perhaps enjoy the exercise and friendship, being able to swim long distance in open water is an essential skill to anyone who lives on a boat. We had one woman who was over 70 and she and others like her echoed the same sentiment that they had been given a gift, a new sport that they could excel at without getting injured while impressing their grand kids. We stressed form and grace to achieve long distance as opposed to sweat and hard laps and this was the right recipe for them. One of our swimmers had Parkinson’s and two years after the class he has sent word that while he can no longer cruise, he can often be found in the water doing TI drills which possibly slow the progression of the disease. Some of our best swimmers were the worst swimmers at the start of the clinic. One particular woman, who had stiffened up over the years, was having a lot of problems throughout the drills and we were expecting our first and only failure when it came time to film her whole stroke. What a surprise on the last day when she swim a near perfect stroke in front of everyone even getting the breathing correct on the first try. She told us afterward that she used to be a figure skater and our emphasis on swimming with a rhythm finally clicked with her. She simply swam to the music in her head : left side - stroke - right side - stroke, left side – stroke … to the tune of the Blue Danube Waltz. Everyone of course has a lot of work ahead of them but they learned the rudiments and they are motivated. There was a lot of joking that they only have 49,990 strokes left to learn the skills.

I got a tremendous amount of positive feedback from the five clinics that we taught over the last two years. There are a lot of folks talking Total Immersion in the islands. We were highlighted / spoofed in the Regatta talent show and everywhere we go around the Islands people come up to us and say: Hey aren’t you the couple from George Town that swims under water? We have been encouraged by the cruisers to continue the clinics next year, we have been contacted by the chairman of the famous George Town Sailing Regatta about including swimming events as one of their competitions and we have been contacted by some of the locals about possibly starting a clinic for the Bahamian children in the area. We started out small, thinking that only a few friends would show up to our class but now getting my coaching certification has become more important.

The Poem Tells It All

The following poem was written by one of our swimmers that basically sums up the Total Immersion experience in the Islands and the fun of learning a new skill with its own special vocabulary.

“Bob you da master, you make us swim faster”

By Dr Tom Goldman MD
s/v Gypsy Soul 2008
TI swimmer extraordinaire

Thank you Coach Bob
and lovely assistant Gail
Your efforts and patience
Would not let us fail

You demo'd the stroke
With the long glide
We originally thought
You swam with the tide

We all thought we knew
Our own special "Sweet Spot"
But Coach Bob shook his head
And said "I think not"

We were all told
You must learn to "Skate"
Failure to do so
Would make us shark bait

Water poured up our nose
And we thought we might drown
But we continued to practice
To avoid Bobs frown

But we learned to "Zipper"
And keep elbows high
To keep heads down
Never peek at the sky

Although "Slippery" and "Archer"
Became our new friends
Still we shivered and muttered
When will this end?

So all in the class
Are swimming better at last
Bob you da Master
You make us swim faster

A good memory for us
Is Honeymoon Beach
Where TI swimming
Came within our reach

So Bob and Gail
Many thanks to you
You’ve given us tools
To swim the deep blue

And, since we have now
Spouted our own gills and fins
It is today that we say
"It’s a great day to swim"
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 05-07-2009
naj naj is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624
naj
Default

"During our travels to the Bahamas we have made hundreds of friends and acquaintances from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. These people are pioneers with adventurous spirits but they are not runners or bikers, and even though they live full time on the water most are challenged trying to swim 50 yards. They have never heard of Masters Swimming and most of the Island natives despite being surrounded by water and making their living off the water can’t swim a single stroke. There is no Red Cross, no YMCA, high school or college swim teams or even a swimming pool for them to learn in. They don’t know who Michael Phelps is. Everything is open water and there are some dangers including Hammerheads and Reef sharks, sea urchins and sting rays in the shallows to overcome. The trade winds blow constantly and there is no such thing as a calm day to practice drills. There is, however, the most incredibly clear turquoise blue water, with white sandy beaches and inviting lagoons."

Congratulations Bob! This is a tremendous accomplishment and I'm glad things have gone so well.

If I may I want to shed a bit more light on why so few of your students may not have swum before. As an African American and like so many people of Black descent we were once amazing swimmers our accomplishments in the water were the stuff of legend, but as the slave trade grew and more and more of us were rounded up, we began to escape from our captors ships by jumping over board and swimming away. So many slave owners began near drowning our fore-parents and telling them that they were sea monsters in the ocean that would eat us whole. Even after we were freed forced segregation and lack of facilities in our own communities as well as our own self segregation in later years kept us out of the pool and open water.

But there has always been a rich history of swimming in our community. I myself have made it my mission to teach low-income African American and Latino youth how to swim. The drowning rate in the Black community alone is three times that of Whites. It might seem odd that someone so close to the sea would not know how to swim, but myths and legends have a way of lingering in the mind.

Great job of working and staying with this group of folks you taught to swim and even better swimming the TI way! Man, I'm jealous, they get the warm Bahamas to swim in and here I am stuck ion San Francisco in 55 degree water...Shoot!

Anyway, again congratulations and keep up the good work.

Naji
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-07-2009
LilBeav LilBeav is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 35
LilBeav
Default

Say hello to Natures Way for me.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is Off
Smilies are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 02:09 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.