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Old 04-25-2014
terry terry is offline
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Default About TI Technique

This is the second of three sections for an updated About section of the TI web site. They're intended to give someone who knows little or nothing about TI a good initial idea what we're about.
How does this compare with your initial exposure to ideas or principles of technique as taught by TI. Or how you understand it today.
Thanks for your input.

Total Immersion: A skill-based approach to swimming better
Whatever your reasons for swimming—recreation, fitness, or speed--your chances of success and satisfaction will increase enormously if you approach swimming as a challenging and exacting skill, rather than a test of endurance. In the Total Immersion method, fitness happens while you learn and improve skills.

These statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention illuminate why skill is essential:
• Only a third of American adults can swim the length of a 25-yard pool.
• And just two percent can swim a continuous quarter-mile.

The millions of adults who can’t complete a single pool length aren’t lacking in fitness: Doing so takes no more fitness than walking 100 strides!
What they lack is skill. But swimming instruction is widely available in America, so why is even the most rudimentary level of skill so rare?

Because swimming is an aquatic skill, while humans are terrestrial mammals. When we attempt swimming for the first time survival instincts take over. We hold the head high to avoid choking and churn all four limbs to avoid sinking.

Survival strokes create a perfect storm of drag and turbulence, and almost no propulsion. It’s also profoundly exhausting—as anyone who has tried and failed to swim 25 yards discovered.

Traditional instruction teaches you to avoid drowning, rather than to swim with the ease to cover long distances. It also fails to consider the powerful effects of an innate fear of sinking and choking.

Total Immersion instruction puts you at ease, then teaches you to artfully adapt human anatomy to swim like an aquatic—not terrestrial—mammal.

The 3-Step Success Prescription
Over 25 years, we’ve refined a 3-part learning sequence that has brought far more success than any other approach. Only Total Immersion teaches this way.
1. Mindfulness
2. The Path of Least Resistance
3. Move from your Core.

Step One: Mindfulness
If you’re surprised to find mindfulness listed first, here are three reasons why developing mindfulness habits is essential to learning swimming skills:

Efficiency isn’t natural. The instinct to ineffectually churning our arms and legs is primal—a helpless reaction to the danger we feel from the ‘sinking sensation.’ We must calm and control our thoughts to gain control over our movements. And each further advance in skill require us to assess and adjust movements with a calm, clear mind. This way of thinking is just as much a learned skill as effective movement.

You’ll learn faster. Combining rhythmic movement with Stroke Thoughts is a form of moving meditation that puts the brain into the alpha brainwave pattern. Scientists call this the Superlearning Zone because you’re most receptive to learning new skills when operating on this wavelength.

World-class Thinking Few of us were born with the physical characteristics of world-class swimmers but all of us can learn to think like one. Elite swimmers have off-the-charts self-awareness and perception. These are learned--not innate—skills. They developed because top athletes (in all sports) focus intently on what they’re doing—avoiding ‘autopilot’ thinking that’s common among average athletes. Focus is intrinsic in every step when you learn and practice the Total Immersion way. Enhanced self-awareness is the natural result.

The mindfulness we teach is different from meditation, in that every thought links to a position or movement essential to swimming well.

Step Two: Take the Path of Least Resistance
Water is 1000 times denser than air. Consequently, water resistance (drag) is the largest factor limiting how far or fast we swim. Aquatic mammals are naturally streamlined. For human swimmers it’s a learned skill—actually a sequence of three mini-skills:
1. Become Weightless. Replace the sinking sensation with a transformative sense of ‘weightlessness’ by cooperating with—not fighting—gravity. When you establish physical comfort, mental calm, and body control at the outset, you learn all subsequent skills with striking ease. And a balanced body creates far less resistance than a sinking body.
2. Shape Your Vessel. Consciously align head and spine and extend your body—from fingertips to toes—into a long, slippery shape (as naval architects shape vessels.) Minimize deviation from this shape as you stroke and breathe--striving at all times to slip through the smallest ‘hole’ in the water.
3. Don’t Make Waves. Watch attentively for--then try to minimize-- waves, bubbles, splash, and even noise. All are evidence of your energy being diverted into moving water. The less energy that goes into moving the water, the more remains for moving you forward.

Step Three: Move From Your Core
Our natural tendency to churn the arms and legs. Total Immersion teaches you to calm that tendency, then to initiate all movement, power, and rhythm in the core—the most naturally powerful and fatigue-resistant part of the body. We also teach you to consciously employ your ‘moving parts’ – the head and limbs—to contribute to, and not detract from, the forward movement of your whole body.

As with the other two steps, swimming from your core is non-instinctive, but it is learnable.
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Old 04-25-2014
Jellybean Jellybean is offline
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Hi Terry

I tried to read this as though I was a swimmer in our Masters Club (perhaps not your target audience). I feel many would not read to the end.

Athletes are often those that was quick results and consequently don't have the mind set or personality to engage in too many words. I think, some accompanying graphics would help and may allow fewers words to get the meaning across, e.g. to illustrate the energy use and potential available by solving 3% problem. (Mat Hudson produces some nice ones.)

My second thought was, as much as I know and like that Mindfulness is key, I think it conjures images that put some people off. It means different things to different people. Many of the swimmers I know would be quite happy to spend hours focussing on one 'micro-skill' for long enough for it to be natural and in the process develop their self-awareness, etc. Afterwards to be told they're developing mindfulness would be fine, but beforehand they'd be resistant. Alternative words could be: mental focus, deliberate practice or contentration training.

Hope this helps.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 04-27-2014
terry terry is offline
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Thanks, Tony. That's precisely the kind of thoughtful and frank feedback I was seeking. I'll wait for some more feedback then seek a way of conveying that point in a way likely to achieve agreement and acceptance among the largest number of people who read it with little or no prior exposure to TI.
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Old 04-27-2014
WFEGb WFEGb is offline
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Hello Terry,

2ct more: Think many swimmers are searching the web when dispairing on "this FS-breathing thing". Especially if they're sure being in good shape or even able to swim "endless" BS. Maybe a link or paragraph how TI deals with it might be helpful.

Also some points in direct comparison. What do classical Schools do and what will TI offer in very special cases.

Best regards,
Werner
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Old 04-27-2014
Janos Janos is offline
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Terry, the dichotomy between TI and other schools of thought regarding swim tuition have perhaps allowed TI to be viewed less as a performance based theory and more as a lifestyle choice? Maybe viewed as the 'tai chi' of swimming rather than the 'katate'?
This is of course, totally wrong, as Thorpe, Popov, Sun Yang and many others, including yourself!, have successfully proven. So I would make more of this and all race success, to stop certain other parties making negatives out of its obvious qualities.
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Old 04-28-2014
terry terry is offline
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Thanks, Janos. One of my plans for the web site is to introduce an Honor Page for TI coaches or swimmers who have accomplished significant things that anyone can recognize as requiring significant speed or endurance.
These will include significant marathons -- like MIMS, English Channel, Coronado, and Irish Sea.
They will also involves 'elite' Masters performance as there are as many as 10 TI coaches who have won national or world championships, and or set national or world records.
No other adult program I'm aware of can boast of such a distinguished record of accomplishment and we've done a poor job of 'blowing our own horn' in this regard.
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Old 05-06-2014
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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Two points

1: Mindfulness: I am personally an advocate of mindfulness as a way to help people with mental health issues. And I personally swim mindfully and agree that focussing exclusively on one focal point at a time is very important. But I agree that to the un-initiated saying that the first stage in TI is to "practice mindfulness" and mentioning meditation will put a lot of people off. To use a crude UK expression, it sounds a bit "tree-huggy" and some sports enthusiasts will be put off. Now if you said the first stage is to adopt "an intensive method of practice with clear focal points" or or some other language I think it would go down better

2. "fitness happens while you learn and improve skills". I am not sure what you are implying here.

If you are trying to say that you get fitter simply through doing slow and focussed practice I'm afraid I disagree and that is not my experience. To become fitter (in the way most people would understand the term) you need to raise your heart rate. Now that isn't to disparage TI or the drills. TI has made me a much, much better swimmer than I was before. Certainly a more efficient swimmer and a more improvement orientated swimmer. And focus on technique is important. But it wasn't the slow practice that improved my "fitness". It was the physically exacting sessions that I do; albeit I do these with clear focal points at all times.

If on the other hand, you are saying that you can use TI principles and undertake focussed swimming even during physically exacting practice and, through that, fitness happens, I would agree wholeheartedly that "fitness happens while you learn and improve skills". But I'm not sure you are saying that. And the context in which the quote is written does not imply that

Suspect we might just be in disagreement on 2. but hope you appreciate the honest feedback
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Old 05-09-2014
Janos Janos is offline
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LBR, I disagree on 1. In the week that UK politicians were being taught mindfulness by Ruby Wax and the City advocates it for executives, and even schools are advising children to practice it, it is obvious that more and more people are aware of it,and it is apparently set to become even more popular.
The psychological aspect of fitness and training, especially in triathlon is virtually non-existent in books and forums in the UK. Yet do some deeper research and you find all successful coaches advocate it for their athletes.
I think Terry was way ahead of his time, in incorporating it into TI, and think that as people become more aware that 'hard yards' is not the only way to train, people won't see mindfulness as some 'new age' concept, and train accordingly.

Janos
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Old 05-10-2014
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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I am not disputing the use of mindfulness. I have been practising it for years (in swimming and non-swimming contexts) and am involved in mental health initiatives in the City where it is used. I buy into it entirely and I realise elite coaches do. But despite the recent profile in media, it is not mainstream yet and regarded as such by Joe Public or amateur athletes (try speaking about it to folks at your local masters club as an important tool for swimming and see what reactions you get?).

In my mind there are two aspects to TI;

(a) a series of excellent drill progressions that break down the stroke(s) into constituent parts and allow you to build up a smooth, effortless stroke [The tool]

(b) an approach to learning these drills, and strokes, that requires focus and concentration on the actions and the feedback you get. [The approach]

(b) is an easy concept to grasp and can be described to people who otherwise don't feel comfortable with meditation or mindfulness as well as those that do.Once they understand the aim of focussed practice, they may become interested in mindfulness as a broader concept and become receptive to its wider uses. If, however, you describe (b) in the context of mindfulness and meditation rather than focussed practice at the outset, you will put some people off and therefore reduce your audience. It may be that Terry wants to focus on people that would already regard themselves as comfortable with mindfulness/meditation etc in which case, fine

Last edited by LBRoberts : 05-10-2014 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 05-10-2014
bx bx is offline
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I'm more in agreement with LBRoberts' take on things, but having said that, earlier this week my Dad phoned up to say he'd just started a mindfullness course!

I don't know to what extent the "About" page on any website influences purchasing decisions.

I don't know to what extent TI income is derived from DVD and ebook sales versus the coaching affliate/franchise model.

The TI website is certainly much better than it was last year, but I don't know if it's underperforming, and if that is the reason for redoing the About page.

How did people here hear about TI? I decided to take up swimming and found Shinji on TubeYou. Probably a common route?
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