This week’s post is the final installment in a series of articles we’ve shared this past month on Kaizen Training, all of which have been excerpted from a companion instructional manual that Terry Laughlin created for T.I. workshop attendees, adapted from his 2006 book, “Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body.” Terry’s practical guidance in this manual focuses on how T.I. swimmers can strategically develop a Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) Training approach to their swimming practice in the first several weeks or months– and beyond– following a T.I. workshop (or after learning with T.I. self-teaching tools). In this article, we pick up where we left off in last week’s post on “Effective Swimming,” which described how to develop efficient speed through the practice of stroke counting. Now, we add the element of time to our practice– in these sample “Swimming Golf” practice sets–  to demonstrate how to effectively use the pace clock with our stroke counting to advance your development of smart speed. Enjoy… and Happy Laps! 






Up to now, we’ve ignored the pace clock– something verging on heresy among swimmers and coaches. But we’ve had good reason:  Allowing you to fully develop swimming as an art has readied you to train for it as a sport, with far greater return for your investment of precious time and energy. With stroke count now ingrained as your most important piece of training data, you can then begin using the pace clock to give you another piece of information to cross-reference with your stroke-count numbers. This will give you the complete swimming-improvement picture. This includes “Swimming Golf” and many creative ways of doing time-oriented sets. Here are several examples to get you started:


We introduce the pace clock, but use SPL and perceived effort (heart rate) to measure the “cost” of any speed increases. The easiest way to increase speed isn’t more or harder work; it’s by learning to swim any given speed more economically, freeing the energy to go farther or faster. 

Version 1:  On successive 50s, swim the same time but reduce your stroke count. 


32 total strokes + 50 seconds = a score of 82

31 total strokes + :50 = 81

30 total strokes + :50 = 80

The goal is to repeat the same time on each 50, but to continue subtracting strokes, until you can’t shave any more from your count without sacrificing speed. Solving it will give you valuable “swimming intelligence.”

Version 2:  On successive 50s, maintain stroke count, but descend your time. 


30 total strokes + :45 = 75

30 total strokes + :44 = 74

30 total strokes + :43 = 73

To improve your score you need to keep exactly the same stroke length, but take each stroke just a bit faster to shave seconds. You’ll be amazed at how quickly a bit more effort can add a lot more strokes. If those strokes don’t translate into enough speed to lower your total score, you know you’ve been wasteful and can take immediate steps to fix the problem. 


[Editorial Note: If you do not own Fistgloves, swim with closed fists. To learn more about this tool, click HERE.]

  • “Play” golf with fistgloves.  How close can you come to our ungloved score? After several rounds with gloves on, do another round without them. Does your score improve over previous ungloved sets after “educating” your hands? If so, lock in the sensations you got.
  • How many ways can you score? After you’ve established your “par,” test how many different stroke counts you can swim at a slightly higher score. If your record score is 77, can you swim a constant score of 80 at 30 and 31 and 32 and 33 and 34 strokes? Which feels easiest? 
  • Take your Heart Rate or estimate your Perceived Exertion after a good score. A score of 64 with a HR of 120 is much better than a 64 with a HR of 150. 

There you have it– the final practice tool to start on the path toward Kaizen Swimming. Happy Laps!

Advance beyond the basic T.I. skills with this comprehensive guide on pursuing the kaizen path of swimming to the highest levels of swimming mastery: 

Terry Laughlin’s book– Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body– shows you how!


ES4EB book cover