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Editorial Note: This post from the old TI Discussion Forum is archived from 2012, but if you’d like to participate in the current TI Discussion Forum, it is now located on Facebook as Total Immersion Swimming Technique Discussion Group.”

This post was originally published by Terry Laughlin on Feb. 11, 2012.


The TI Discussion Forum had a query from Werner this morning, who I’m guessing is from Germany. Werner wrote:

I’ve been “on the TI train” for 12 months. Thanks to TI and this Forum I was able to complete 1000 meters of continuous freestyle within six months. My anxious question is: Will it hold?

Is it like biking? My grandma didn’t ride a bike for 55 years but was able to do so again, when someone suggested she do so. So how long will my current swimming success hold?

Thanks for sharing your experiences,

Here’s my reply to Werner:

Welcome to TI and thanks for engaging with other members of this Forum. As you will soon discover, your fellow TI swimmers are a thoughtful, supportive and generous group and will eagerly share the lessons they’ve learned.

The simplest answer to your question is: No, it will not hold. Quite the contrary, it will improve. Continuously. And likely for decades, not just weeks, months or years. The key is to embrace the most important aspect of the TI philosophy and methodology — Kaizen [continuous, life-long improvement].

Here are 5 Core Principles of Kaizen Swimming:

1) Your goal in every pool session is to improve your swimming – not to complete a certain number of meters or raise your heart rate or any of the traditional goals. As I’ve written many times, “My main thought every time I enter the pool is to be a better swimmer when I leave it an hour later.”

2) Improve by finding and fixing weak points. Those will be more obvious — and easier to fix – in the early stages, and more subtle — and require more patience and more strategic thinking later.

3) Love the “plateau.” This will become more important a few months to a year after you start TI, as the improvements take longer to achieve. You’ll spend weeks, and eventually months, practicing without being conscious of any improvement. During these times, maintain faith that change IS taking place — at the level of neurons. After a period of time that change will consolidate and produce a thrilling forward leap.

4) Become passionately curious. Swimming is the most complex, challenging and non-instinctive of all physical skills. This is because it’s an aquatic skill, while humans are terrestrial mammals. If you tirelessly seek to expand your knowledge and understanding, you’ll enjoy swimming much more, make steadier progress, and be able to have great confidence in your choices.

5) Practice is its own reward. Whatever goals have motivated you to begin swimming, strive to progress to a point where those external goals — while remaining sources of motivation — essentially become beside the point. The motivation that brings you to the pool day after day, year after year, decade after decade is the knowledge that your practice is the high point of your day, it leaves you energized mentally and physically for everything else you do, and–over time–produces enduring positive change in body, mind and spirit.

Happy Laps,

Find more tips like this in the Ultra-Efficient Freestyle Handbook, a richly-illustrated, easy-to-read 140 page guide to understanding freestyle technique in depth. It comes along with 15 downloadable videos and a learning and practice workbook in our Self-Coaching Toolkit.