Our regular mid-week guest post comes from Jim Nystrom who recounts how he progressed, in just three months, from being able to swim  100 yards of continuous freestyle to an almost effortless 2.4-mile swim from the island of Nevis to St. Kitts.

I have always been a very average swimmer. I learned old-school freestyle technique as a kid at my local YMCA. As an adult, my distance swimming was limited to a handful of short distance triathlons, and the swim was my weakness in these races. I’d become resigned to thinking I could not become a strong distance swimmer without a lot of laps, paddles, and time.

Over the last 10 years my fitness routine has been devoted exclusively to road biking. A back injury kept me from running, and swimming was something I did occasionally at my health club to help break up my biking routine. I usually swam 20 to 40 minutes, mixing freestyle with breaststroke. I could swim only 100 yards  of freestyle before I got winded, then would swim breaststroke to recover from fatigue.

Last November, a friend of mine, who has always been a strong swimmer, suggested we both train for the Nevis to St Kitts Channel Swim. I was not sure I could manage a 2.5-mile swim in open ocean. My open water experience was limited to short (a mile or less) lake swims more than 20 years ago. Nonetheless, I agreed to do the event that was scheduled in late March.

I began pool training for the swim in December. I started adding laps and using paddles in my routine. After a few weeks, I found that I was sore and could only manage an hour of slow freestyle. Then, in late December, I found some TI videos on YouTube and purchased your Effortless Endurance Self Coaching Course and the “Total Immersion” book.

Almost overnight I found myself improving! Using your tips on head position (“release your head”), “stroke thoughts” and “shaping the vessel” dramatically changed how I felt in the water. Quickly, I was swimming freestyle almost effortlessly and found myself able to focus on every stroke as I tried to limit the bubbles around my hand and perfect my 2 beat kick. By early March, I had completed several 4,000 yd training swims in approx 1.5 hours and felt great at the end of each session. I felt ready for the ocean.

The Nevis/St Kitts Channel swim in late March was outstanding! Despite no ocean swimming experience, I was comfortable and relaxed. There was some chop/swell as we crossed the channel, but your tips about how to stabilize myself made all the difference. I enjoyed the entire swim and finished respectably in 1hr 47 minutes.

Jim Nostrum comes ashore on St. Kitts after swimming from Nevis in the background.

Jim Nystrom comes ashore on St. Kitts after swimming from Nevis in the background.

TI has made a huge difference in my swimming and fitness and has helped me to balance a very busy life. Thanks again Terry for sharing your experience and knowledge.

Jim Nystrom is an aviation professional and lives with his family in Scottsdale, Arizona.  Swimming is an important part of his life and is a great complement to his road biking. In addition to the physical benefits from his time in the pool, he enjoys the focus, learning, solitude, and rejuvenation that swimming gives him, especially as he maintains a very busy travel schedule for his job. He is now working on mastering bilateral breathing and has also begun to explore the benefits of stretching.