This is another in a series of mid-week guest posts by TI coaches and fans. This one is by Ioannis Karampelas, MD.

On a September afternoon in 2005 I was wandering around a Barnes & Noble bookstore in Buffalo, NY, trying partly to kill time, partly to see whether a book about self-teaching for beginning swimmers was available.

Coming from Greece—a land blessed with beautiful, open seas where I swam for as long as I can remember­­—to this country as a fresh, foreign medical graduate, I hoped to find something that would improve my swimming technique.  Most swimming books looked like hard-core training manuals: Full of programs dictating intensity levels and featuring tables depicting target heart rates and lap durations.

It was a revelation when I came across Terry’s “Blue-and-Yellow book.” Everything made sense: the greater importance of the shape of the vessel compared to its engine power, the science-based description of the importance of streamlining and stroke length, the explanation of the role of the chest cavity in determining the body’s center of gravity.  I was hooked.

Then followed the DVDs and endless hours of slow, progressive drills.  Patiently finding my own “sweet spot”, how to breathe better on both sides, front quadrant swimming . . . etc . . . etc.

I started a neurosurgical residency in 2007.  It was a 7-year marathon. Few other professional training courses are so demanding in terms of physical, emotional and mental powers that need to be cultivated and ingrained to the person going through it.

Our days as residents would regularly start around 5 am and end around 8 pm.  We would still work the next day after being up all night when we were on-call.  Most of us would leave the hospital dead tired, wishing to go straight to bed.

I was no different.  But somehow, I elected to keep making a stop at the nearby swimming pool, just 100 yards from the hospital, to practice TI, before going home.

This was one of the smartest things I elected to do.  It was not just that I was getting better at swimming.

After a while I noticed that I was getting out of the pool feeling less tired, needing less sleep, and waking in the morning feeling better overall.

I felt restored as I came out of the pool. I could tolerate longer hours of standing in the operating room without backache, In my work, I could feel my hands and arms coordinate better with the rest of my body and I could sense more fluidity in my surgical technique.

Above all, swimming and the TI technique helped me tremendously in relieving the daily stresses of work, rejuvenating my psychological resources and sustaining my body through very tough times.  Progression in swimming technique generated positive feedback for progress in mind and spirit.

Balance and streamlining in the pool would find a parallel in balancing my acts and thoughts during interpersonal interactions and streamlining my daily work in the hospital.

I often say to my friends that I survived residency because of the support I got from my mentors, family and TI.  To this day, I feel eternally obliged to Terry Laughlin and his commitment to make a change in peoples’ lives.  A change that goes beyond becoming a better swimmer.

TI and its mastery, as George Leonard would no doubt agree, is an endless path. Along the way, we honor the process more than the results, we cherish the journey more than the destination, we acquire wisdom by the epochs and not by the instant.


Ioannis Karampelas is a neurological surgeon practicing is St. Cloud, MN. He continues to enjoy the plateau of focusing in each focal point time and again. He recently experienced first class instruction and feedback in a Twin Cities TI freestyle course from outstanding teacher Tim Walton and decided to share some of his TI experiences. While in the pool, part of his brain is still able to ponder upon the things he values the most: personal health, science, culture, and above all, family and the future of his children.