Terry and Shinji synch swim

(Terry Laughlin and Shinji Takeuchi synch-swimming– Eleuthera, the Bahamas, December 2006.)


This post was originally published by Terry Laughlin on Feb. 12, 2011.


At the bottom of this post is video of Shinji [T.I. Master Coach and Head of TI Japan– read Shinji’s T.I. story in this 2012 blog interview] and I “synch-swimming” at TI Teacher Training in December 2010.  Here I’ll focus on WHY we practice Synch-Swimming.

Synch-Swimming started as an exercise I came up with about 10 years ago [circa 2001 at the time of this writing] to practice with friends (including TI Coaches Dave Barra, Greg Sautner and Hash al-Mashat) at Lake Minnewaska in New Paltz. At first we just practiced swimming two to six swimmers abreast along the 200-meter line, as a pacing exercise. Then we tried to squeeze the group as close together as possible, until our hands and forearms —  and occasionally hips and shoulders — were brushing lightly as we stroked.

We did this to simulate both the not-infrequent crowding and occasional physical contact of open water races. Our goal was to make this experience something we could accept, then even welcome. While most swimmers shy away from, or become anxious or distracted in such situations, we enjoyed it and were able to turn it into an aid to concentration.

Finally, we began trying to synchronize our strokes. This last piece was the icing on the cake. The experience of concentrating on your own stroke, while also being aware of other swimmers’ strokes — adjusting position, direction, length and tempo to theirs — proved so engrossing that we all experienced a powerful “swimmer’s high” in these practices. Synch-Swimming was so enjoyable and valuable it became a central  and distinguishing feature of all TI Open Water camps.

Now I try to synch-swim with every TI Coach– and many TI swimmers– I have the opportunity to swim with, in open water or the pool.

This video shows two forms: In Synch-Swimming, you match the timing of right-arm to right-arm. In Mirror-Swimming, you match the timing of the inside arms. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: To view Terry and Shinji’s archived 2011 discussion forum Q &A about this synch swim video, click HERE

Learn how to synch swim and other open water skills– including drafting, sighting, pacing, pack swimming, and more– in our video “Outside the Box: A Total Immersion Swimming Program for Success in Open Water”