FROM THE ARCHIVES : This practice set from Terry is one that he posted on the T.I. discussion forum on 3/22/11, following a clinic at the Multisport World Expo. He wrote:

“Saturday Mar. 19 [2011], at the Multisport World Expo at MIT in Cambridge, MA, we offered 75-minute classes in Endurance Skills. These focused on whole-stroke repeats with Focal Points designed to improve Balance and Streamline. During the final 20 minutes, we used Tempo Trainers to consolidate the new thoughts and skills. Here’s a practice based on what we did at those classes. If you do this practice, please post any insights or improvements that result.”

To view Terry’s original forum thread, and the ensuing online discussion that followed his post of this practice, click HERE. And feel free to post any observations in the comments below, after you’ve had a chance to try this practice yourself.

Enjoy– and as Terry always said, “Happy Laps!”

terry coaching

(Archival photo: Terry coaching a T.I. clinic in Coral Springs, FL, circa 2008)


Total Immersion Mindful Swimming Practice

Mindful Swimming Practice has a dual purpose:

1) Train your body. Focus on an aspect of stroke improvement that allows you to sense and measure improvement with some ease. Repeat a narrowly focused technique enough times to leave an imprint on muscle memory.

2) Train your brain. Practice holding one specific thought. If you notice your thoughts have wandered, bring them back. At the end of each set, evaluate how well you’ve maintained focus, just as much as you evaluate how you’ve changed your stroke. Improving focus will have longer-lasting and more expansive benefits than improving your stroke.


Swim 50 yards. Count strokes.

Swim 6 x 25. Odd 25s with index-finger-only extended. Even 25s with ‘normal’ hands.

Compare SPL (Strokes Per Length) one finger to normal hand. Can you reduce the difference between them?

Swim 50 yards as before. Count strokes. Did 50-yd count change?

Balance/Relaxation Focus

Swim 4 to 8 x 25 with this focus:

Hang Your Head Feel head hanging – weightless – between shoulders. Focus only on keeping a sense of a weightless head and relaxed neck & shoulder muscles.

Swim 4 to 8 x 25 with this focus:

Weightless “Lazy” Arm 
Feel your arm float forward as if cushioned. How slowly can you extend? Notice if fingers are tense or relaxed. Look for– and eliminate– bubbles.
Swim 3 to 5 x 50 [25 Hang your Head + 25 Weightless Lazy Arm]

Streamline/Swim Taller Focus

Swim 4 to 8 x 25 with this focus:

Swim Slightly Taller Reach a bit farther than usual – as for something barely beyond reach. Don’t strain, but aim to extend reach by a couple of millimeters or nanoseconds.

Swim 4 to 8 x 25 with this focus:

Overlap Slightly increase overlap between hands. Overlap enough that you notice it, but not so much that it feels out-of-rhythm.

Swim 3 to 5 x 50 [25 Swim Taller + 25 Overlap]

Combined Focus

Swim 3 to 5 x 50 [25 Combined Relax Focus + 25 Combined Taller Focus]

Tempo Trainer (TT) Pyramid 

[Note: To learn more about the Tempo Trainer, click HERE]

Swim 10 x 25. Reset TT after each: 1.3 – 1.4 – 1.5 – 1.6 – 1.55 – 1.50 – 1.45 – 1.40 – 1.35 – 1.30

Choose any focus from those above to maintain for the entire set.

The goal of this set is to improve efficiency (reduce SPL) as tempo slows, then be very ‘stingy’ about giving back the strokes you saved, as tempo increases again. As tempo slows, you’ll notice extra time in the stroke. Use this time to extend a bit further (as in Swim Taller focus) and be more patient about beginning the stroke.

Take Note of: (1) SPL at start of set; (2) how many strokes you ‘save’ as tempo slows from 1.3 to 1.6; (3) SPL at finish of set; (4) at which tempo you feel most comfortable.

SPL Maintenance Set (without TT)

Swim 4 x 25 + 3 x 50 + 2 x 75 + 1 x 100.

Goal is to maintain SPL within two strokes of best count from TT Pyramid, as repeat distance increases.