Total Immersion: How I Learned to Swim Effortlessly in 10 Days and You Can Too

Is it possible to get good at swimming late in life? Yes. (Photo: Shutterhack)

Swimming has always scared the hell out of me.

Despite national titles in other sports, I’ve always fought to keep afloat. This inability to swim well has always been one of my greatest insecurities and embarrassments.

I’ve tried to learn to swim almost a dozen times, and each time, my heart jumps to 180+ beats-per-minute after one or two pool lengths. It’s indescribably exhausting and unpleasant.

No more.

In the span of less than 10 days, I’ve gone from a 2-length (2 x 20 yards/18.39 meters) maximum to swimming more than 40 lengths per workout in sets of 2 and 4. Here’s how I did it after everything else failed, and how you can do the same…

At the end of January, a kiwi friend issued a New Year’s resolution challenge: he would go all of 2008 without coffee or stimulants if I trained and finished an open-water 1-kilometer race in 2008. I agreed.

He had grown up a competitive swimmer and convinced me that — unlike my other self-destructive habits masquerading as exercise (no-gi BJJ, etc.) — it was a life skill and a pleasure I needed to share with my future children. In other words: of all the potential skills you could learn, swimming was one of the most fundamental.

So why is this post only coming out now, eight months later? Because I tried everything, read the “best” books, and still failed.

Kick boards? Tried them. I barely moved at all and — as someone who is usually good at most sports — felt humiliated and left.

Hand paddles? Tried them. My shoulders will never forgive me. Isn’t swimming supposed to be low-impact? Strike two.

It continued for months until I was prepared to concede defeat. Then I met Chris Sacca, formerly of Google fame and now an investor and triathlete in training, at a BBQ and told him of my plight. Before I had a chance to finish, he cut me off:

“I have the answer to your prayers. It revolutionized how I swim.”

That got my attention.

The Method

He introduced me to Total Immersion (TI), a method usually associated with coach Terry Laughlin, and I immediately ordered the book and freestyle DVD.

In the first workout — I’ve never had a coach or supervision — I cut my drag and water resistance at least 50%, swimming more laps than ever before in my life. By the fourth workout, I had gone from 25+ strokes per 20-yard length to an average of 11 strokes per 20-yard length. Unbelievable.

In other words, I was covering more than twice the distance with the same number of strokes, with less than 1/2 the effort, and with no panic or stress. In fact, I felt better after leaving the pool than before getting in. I couldn’t — and still can’t — believe it.

Here are my notes from the Total Immersion book, which I would recommend reading after watching the Freestyle Made Easy DVD, as the drills are near-impossible to understand otherwise. I was actually unable to do the exercises from pages 110 – 150 (I cannot float horizontally and have a weak kick) and became frustrated until the DVD enabled me to attempt technique with propulsion. The theories and explanation after the DVD, however, will change how you view all of it:

Total Immersion Freestyle notes
Total Immersion freestyle notes (click to enlarge)

My Top 8 Tips for Novices

Here are the principles that made the biggest difference for me:

1) To propel yourself forward with the least effort, focus on shoulder roll and keeping your body horizontal (least resistance), not pulling with your arms or kicking with your legs. This is counter-intuitive but important, as kicking harder is the most universal suggestion for fixing swimming issues.

2) Keep yourself horizontal by keeping your head in line with your spine — you should be looking straight down. Use the same head position as while walking and drive your arm underwater vs. swimming on the surface. See Shinji Takeuchi’s underwater shots at :49 seconds at and Natalie Coughlin’s explanation at :26 seconds. Notice how little Shinji uses his legs; the small flick serves only to help him turn his hips and drive his next arm forward. This is the technique that allows me to conserve so much energy.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJpFVvho0o4&hl=en&fs=1]

A good demonstration of a TI crawl.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkt31KITQro&hl=en&fs=1]

3. In line with the above video of Shinji, think of swimming freestyle as swimming on alternating sides, not on your stomach. From the TI Wikipedia page:

“Actively streamline” the body throughout the stroke cycle through a focus on rhythmically alternating “streamlined right side” and “streamlined left side” positions and consciously keeping the bodyline longer and sleeker than is typical for human swimmers.

For those who have rock climbed or done bouldering, it’s just like moving your hip closer to a wall to get more extension. To test this: stand chest to a wall and reach as high as you can with your right arm. Then turn your right hip so it’s touching the wall and reach again with your right arm: you’ll gain 3-6″. Lengthen your vessel and you travel further on each stroke. It adds up fast.

4. Penetrate the water with your fingers angled down and fully extend your arm well beneath your head. Extend it lower and further than you think you should. This downward water pressure on the arms will bring your legs up and decrease drag. It will almost feel like you’re swimming downhill. I highly recommend watching the “Hand Position and Your Balance” video at the top of this page here.

5. Focus on increasing stroke length (SL) instead of stroke rate (SR). Attempt to glide further on each downstroke and decrease the number of strokes per lap.

6. Forget about workouts and focus on “practice.” You are training your nervous system to perform counter-intuitive movements well, not training your aerobic system. If you feel strained, you’re not using the proper technique. Stop and review rather than persist through the pain and develop bad habits.

7. Stretch your extended arm and turn your body (not just head) to breathe. Some triathletes will even turn almost to their backs and face skyward to avoid short gasps and oxygen debt (tip from Dave Scott, 6-time Ironman world champion).

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LqqNO3WYZ0&hl=en&fs=1]

8. Experiment with hand swapping as a drill:

It’s difficult to remember all of the mechanical details while swimming. I short-circuited trying to follow half a dozen rules at once. The single drill that forced me to do most other things correctly is described on pg. 91-92 of the TI book: hand swapping. Coach Laughlin’s observations of the Russian Olympic team practice were a revelation to me.

This is the visualization I found most useful: focus on keeping your lead arm fully extended until your other arm comes over and penetrates the water around the extended arm’s forearm. This encourages you to swim on your sides, extends your stroke length, and forces you to engage in what is referred to as “front quadrant” swimming. All good things. This one exercise cut an additional 3-4 strokes off each lap of freestyle.

Gear and Getting Started

Ready to give it a shot? If you have a phobia of swimming or just want to feel the difference a few counter-intuitive techniques make, here are some starter tips:

1. Gents, don’t swim in board shorts. I tried this in Brazil and didn’t realize it’s like swimming with a parachute behind you. Terrible. Get some Euro-style Speedos and streamline. Be cool on the beach and opt for efficiency in the water.

2. Get good goggles. I am now using Speedo Vanquisher goggles, which I find effective if you use a latex swim cap to keep the straps in place. I need to tighten the nose bridge straps every 100-125 meters or so to prevent chlorinated water from blinding me, and leakage with all three goggles I tested seem to be due to eye pieces spread too far apart. I’ll be experimenting with the much-acclaimed Aqua Sphere Kaiman swim goggles, which are simple to adjust and tighten without removing them from your head.

3. Start practicing in a pool that is short and shallow. Use a lane in the shallow end (4 ft. or less) and opt for a pool that is no longer than 20 yards. I’ve since progressed to 25 yards but found focusing on technique easier with shorter pools. Since I’ve adapted to 25 yards, I plan to move to an Olympic-sized 50-meter pool once I can do 10 x 100 yards with 30-45 seconds of rest between sets.

To Finish Up…

I never ever thought I’d say this but: I love swimming.

This is RIDICULOUS, as I have always HATED swimming and avoided it. Now — after one book and DVD — I make time whenever possible to do laps like moving meditation.

I’ll swim for two hours and sneak out to get in an extra session a few hours later. I still can’t believe it.

I encourage all of you — whether you want to overcome your fears or win the Ironman — to give TI training a test drive. It’s the first instruction that’s made sense to me and is 100% responsible for the fastest transformative experience I’ve ever had in the world of sports. Just incredible.

Now, if I can just get from 100-yard sets to 1 kilometer 🙂

[Postscript: The creator of TI himself, Terry Laughlin, has left additional tips and observations in the comments.]

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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451 Replies to “Total Immersion: How I Learned to Swim Effortlessly in 10 Days and You Can Too”

  1. Tim,

    Great description of TI! I am a podcaster, nuclear engineer, triathlete, and student of lifestyle design (yes, I have successfully implemented many of your methods, but that is another story).

    My experience with Total Immersion was similar to yours although I’ve had time to take it to new levels. When I decided to become an Ironman Triathlete, I had never swam, biked, or run competitively. TI helped me complete my first Ironman swim in under 1 hour and 18 minutes (that’s 2.4 miles in the open water), and still have plenty of energy left to bike 112 miles and run a marathon. Since then I’ve done it again and completed many shorter triathlons.

    Total Immersion was a key to my success.

    Peace!

  2. This method works awesome. I thrashed around in the water for a few months, then took lessons from a TI instructor. It’s really improved my swimming and made me a better triathlete.

  3. i fully agree with what dear anja says ( anja August 14th, 2008 )…it becomes a virtual meditation after continuous non-stop swimming a certain length !!…it’s my experience too….thanks for sharing….

  4. what an inspiration this stuff is. I didn’t actually learn how to swim until I was 18 yrs young and that was about 5yrs ago. now 23, I’m stilling learning and relearning more about swimming.

  5. Hey Tim,

    Great insight. I have never been afraid of swimming and can paddle around a bit but not efficiently. I am an avid cyclist and I have always avoided triathalons because I do not like to swim. I will give it more thought.

    Rick

  6. I have a question. I have a ten year old boy that has been competing for 5 years in State competitions. He needs technique help. Would the DVD be understandable for a ten year old to follow? Thanks. I have heard a lot about this and wondered if it would help a young one.

    Stacey

  7. I’m going to try this. The weird thing with me is that I can basically swim as far as I want (the longest I’ve gone was 2,5 kilometers, and I stopped out of boredom) – just not freestyle, where my limit is about 200m. I’ve use breast-stroke exclusively since childhood because of my inability to properly use any other stroke…

  8. I’ve been working with the book and DVD that Tim recommended for about a week. I’ve done all of the drills multiple times, and I’ve progressed to using the techniques to swim freestyle.

    My problem is, I can’t seem to pick up the “effortless” part of swimming effortless. Each time I finish one length of a 25-meter pool, my heart rate jumps to at least 140, and usually up to 160. I need to find the equivalent of “jogging” — swimming slowly and easily enough that I’ll be able to finish a half mile or a mile with relative ease.

    I’ve tried swimming slower, breathing every stroke cycle, relaxing as much as possible in the water. But no matter what, my heart rate jumps after just one length. Does Terry/anyone else have any tips? I really need the help, because I want to compete in one or more triathlons this summer.

    Thanks!

  9. Hi ChinBoston, I’m just a student of the book/dvd, but maybe I can help.

    1. Pay attention to how hard you are kicking, you might be over-doing it.

    The thing with kicking is that it adds very little propulsion for the amount of energy that it costs. If you are doing a short sprint, you want to get that extra boost and you can afford to go into oxygen debt for a short time, but if you’re going a long distance, you need to learn how to swim with your torso.

    2. Maybe body position is the issue? Are you perhaps using energy to stay afloat? Keep doing the drills and try to find the natural spot in the water where you aren’t expending any energy to stay up. You should eventually be able to take breaks WHILE swimming. Just turn to your side and take a few breaths. The key is doing those drills enough times and with enough intention that you internalize those skills, not to get through them, keep repeating the drills long past the point where you think you need them, and try to be critical of yourself as you do them

    Just my two cents,

    -t.

  10. Hey Tim!

    Just wanted to say that your tips had a tremendous impact on my technic. I had watched some videos on YouTube, but those really didn't get to me. All the things that you said were keeping you from liking to swim were the same for me : )

    Keep up the good work !

    Ott

  11. An extremely useful summary, Tim – and I say that having read the TI book and attended one of their weekend camps! Like you, I've found the TI method a revelation – and the source of a new obsession!

  12. yo t-dawg i heard about u from ur mma training, do u ever do pool shadow boxing neck deep like marciano and ali or like roy j jr. with snorkel and wrist weights give it a shot if not it’ll increase your punch power

    word

  13. Interesting reading. I have just joined a triathlon club so will be starting swimming seriously soon, so I will be trying everything mentioned here 🙂

  14. Thanks, Tim, for a great article! I’ve never had any particular trouble swimming (mom taught me how to swim before I was potty trained… plus I spent many summers at the pool, river, or lake)., but the advice outlined here got me interested in adding some technique to my swimming. This has made my time in the pool more enjoyable and interesting, and I’ve noticed great improvement in my speed in the water. I even got asked for advice on swimming last week from a stranger!

    Oh, like Tim, I also like using the backstroke as recover from all out freestyle – makes a great interval cardio workout!

    S.O.

  15. I had the exact same experience. I was forced by my parents to take a summer swimming course when I was 12. I hated swimming from then, I found it absurd.

    I’ve been since then several years working out mostly at the gym and running. Now I’m 23, I haven’t set a foot on the gym since a year ago, I tried swimming and got advice from the local team of waterpolo members (current world-champions). I love swimming and can’t find time to do another thing.

  16. ChinBoston,

    I was in the same boat you were. I would practically hypervintilate after a lap. TristainReid highlighted the number one reason why you are exhausted. You have got to learn the two beat kick. That is, kick only on the pull phase of the stroke. I finally figured it out when at the end of an exhausting lap I found that I was just kicking on the pull. When I realized the timing, I just started doing it on purpose. Here’s some other things that have helped:

    1. Practice body position by doing superman glides until the cows come home. Start every practice by doing two-four laps of supermans.

    2. Watch the Total Immersion Israel ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEPuF6-oxXs ) by Dikla Sassoon on SPL. She does three things that TI is big on.

    A. She spears deeply as Tim has suggested. Some posters criticize her

    for it but it works.

    B. She glides after the pull to decrease SPL. This will decrease the exertion that you currently feel.

    C. She almost over rotates. But this is effective in seeing how this contributes to her glide lengh after each pull.

    3. I suspect that you like me don’t breathe well. I have adjusted my breathing so that its done mostly on gody rotation so I don’t lift my head up to air. But one thing is still holding me back. If I breathe every other stroke, I haven’t cleared my lungs of CO2 so I end up exhaling and then inhaling. I suspect this may limiting my O2 intake so that after two lengths or so, I suffer from oxygen debt. When I go to breathing on every fourth stroke, I breathe properly but it never seems like enough so on the next cycle I end up going back to every other stroke. I going to try to blow out hard every other stroke and see if I can’t feel more refreshed and go longer.

    Hope this helps.

  17. Thanks, Tim.

    My partner and I just started training for our first triathlon, and we are trying to conquer swimming. I have practice tonight and will use your tips. Will also pick up the book too.

    Thanks, again.

    Fabio

  18. Hi Tim,

    I just joined a swim team and started learning how to swim, and this page really helped me today. I have to wear noseplugs in the water and still more than half the time, I end up coughing really hard. My legs are weak in the water and I can’t kick hard. I never thought to rotate the whole body when taking a breath. I’ll have to try that during the next practice. =]

    Thanks a Bunch!

  19. Tim,

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you. I have NEVER been able to freestyle swim even though I have been swimming all my life. I have tried many summers to freestyle. This summer I was determined to figure it out. I found your page just before I went to the pool. IT IS INCREDIBLE. within two hours I was at least able to get the stroke and shaky breathing down. within two days in the pool, roughly 6 hours I was able to swim from one side to the other and pattern my breathing better. Today, 3 weeks later, I hit an especially busy night at the pool and I was able to keep up with the swimmers who had been swimming for years. I was AMAZED! I could see these methods really making a difference in my swim! THANK YOU SO MUCH. I never thought I would enjoy swimming……now I can’t get enough! Awesome Job!

  20. Hi Tim,

    I will be turning 60 this year and have made of list of ‘things to accomplish’ before the big day. Neither my friends nor family members would have EVER imagined that entering a triathlon would be on that list– I am not the athletic type (understatement!) and I have had 2 back surgeries in the last 2 years. But when my doctor gave me the OK to begin training, I thought ‘why not?’ So August 9 I will be swimming, biking, and walking fast (can’t really run) and will do my best to complete a sprint triathlon.

    Swimming is definitely my weak link. I have been training for weeks by swimming 16 lengths of the 25 meter pool, struggling to do combinations of side strokes, back strokes, and my own crazy version of a breast stroke. When I try the free-style, I am panting like a fool after only one length of the pool.

    Yesterday a woman in the lane next to mine was smoothly swimming like a glider in water. She was at least my age and her strokes looked effortless – barely any kicking and definitely no splashing. I hope she is there tomorrow so i can ask her if she is using the TI method! I can’t wait to try the ‘vessel’ approach beginning tomorrow. Who knows? I may even win the triathlon (for my age group, of course)!

    Thank you for your blog!

  21. Hi Tim and readers,

    TI is the most amazing thing to happen in the swimming world, for sure! In a months time, i have moved from a single length person to 30 lengths in a 25M pool!! And strangers in the pool ask me suggestions all the time now… heheheh!!

    Do you know Coach Emmett Hines of h2oustons? check out Coach Emmett Hines articles on h2oustonswims.org – he is also as fantastic as Mr. Laughlin with respect to various swimming techniques (and is inspired from TI), and Tim, the flip turn is explained in the best possible way with his napkin drawings on http://www.h2oustonswims.org/articles/flip_turns.html

    And Fitness Swimming 2nd Edition is a welcome add to our swimming books library!

    I Love Chlorine,

    Kiran

  22. Hi Tim,

    I just found your article today, after so many searches for swimming tips to improve my ‘hammer-like’ sinking body during exhausting freestyle strokes.

    Started swimming at the age of 19 during college years ( Tokyo University of Marine Academy, where swimming is a must). At sophomore I could handle 10 miles breaststroke in the open water. I quitted swimming after marriage ( my wife is a big-time anchor, never see water surface at eye level) and now at the age of 57, I could barely finish a lap of 25 with heartbeat of 160 like someone mentioned.

    After viewing Takeuchi san’s TI swimming video and reading your article, I realize again now that swimming is not about the speed only but a way to keep afloat and reach destination with ease. That’s what we learnt at Marine Academy. Thanks for the wonderul lesson. I will apply this technique this evening at community pool.

    Arigatoo.

  23. Hey Tim, thanks for posting this a while back. I remembered this post and the TED talk video about swimming when I was walking past an Olympic triathlon sign up desk. I’m a strong cyclist and runner but I haven’t really swam since my aborted attempts at a swim club 3 years ago where the coach said “your shoulder will always bug you – stop swimming and stop frustrating yourself.” After thinking about your post and video, I thought “what’s the worst thing that could happen? I’ll have to backstroke or dog paddle the entire 1.5km??” I signed up at 5:30pm yesterday and raced it today. I was one of the first ones in and one of the last ones out and I didn’t care because I just raced 1.5km of open water (lake) swimming for the first time in my life. Thanks for the inspiration. Keep pushing and having fun.

  24. I wasn’t going to go for a swim tonight – I’ve been trying to improve my front crawl but not getting anywhere. Then I read this, went to the pool and tried your tips and suddenly everything seemed to just click: I swam more lengths doing front crawl tonight than I think I’ve ever done before and felt great afterwards.

    Thanks for this – I can’t wait to get back to the pool now for my next swim.

  25. Nice work Tim – an excellent summary of what is required. I had a couple of private lessons on TI a few weeks ago, but have been struggling with my technique lately. I’m heading back to the pool today with some new focus. I’ve linked to you from my own triathlon-focused website.

  26. I’m new to TI swimming but it’s already cut strokes and effort off every lap.

    I also play BJJ, gi and no-gi, and wonder why you call it self destructive?

  27. Tim,

    Thanks for doing this article man. I had the biggest fear of water my entire life and finally stepped out of my comfort zone. Last month, just one (1) month ago, i was fighting water trying to stay afloat. Definitely survival mode… I started learning total immersion thanks to your article, read the TI book (it’s literally in pieces now since i’d take it to the pool and leave it at the end of my lane soaking water each time i’d reference it) and watched several videos. I continually practiced…

    It’s been only a month… Last week I did a 1.5 mile swim in the pool nonstop…

    Today I made it to a 2.5 mile swim and only stopped because the facility was closing. Had you not written this article, I would not have gained distance as quickly as I did. I’m graduating to open water now. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to perform in the Ironman, and my times, a month after learning, are below the cutoff times for the 2.4 mile swim.

    Thank you so much! I hope to meet you some day.

    Your friend in Florida,

    Diego

  28. No, thank you Tim. Since that first post and first tri, I’ve done 3 tris in 8 weeks, having sworn my whole life I’d never do one. Now I’m already scheming for some much longer tris for next year. I can highly recommend the DVD and the book (Total Immersion). It got me from “dying in the pool” to doing something I thought I’d never do, and from there my times have gone from 47 minutes to do 1.5k (if you know swimming, that’s HORRENDOUS) to 42 minutes to 36 minutes in 8 weeks. I think I can get it down to 30 minutes pretty easily.

    Get out and try it! The worst thing that can happen is that you enjoy some swimming time.

    Oh, and buy one of those little Finis Tempo Trainer beepers that tuck into your swim cap. They’re pretty cool and help you set your cadence.

    Good luck everybody.

    Troy

  29. Hi Tim,

    I had a question about someone with a weak consistently dislocating shoulder (5 times since Oct 08). I’ve kept up on my physio but it keeps popping out. I refuse to have surgery and feel I can teach my body to overcome this. My doctor and physio recommend swimming but I’m afraid of how my shoulder will take it. Of course, my docs didn’t give me much advice on how to change my stroke or how to wok on improving my shoulder through this activity and so I was wondering if you had any advice?

    Thanks.

  30. Tim,

    I have a question for you, I did read all the posts here before bugging you with it this…

    I watched the videos and I am having a little challenge visualizing the breathing, perhaps its getting clear about the concept of rolling your entire body in the stroke and stretching for the breath… does that makes sense?

    I took all the ymca swimming lessons up to Bronze and was the first one in the water LOVED it… then something happened… so now in order for me to get into the water and leave the fear out of the water I have to visualize success… not being able to do that I am struggling to get into the water again… If you could try to explain the breathing or offer a link to something that does that would really be great!

    Second question is this – it sounds like the effort goes out of the exercise so I am wondering if the exercise benefits are still comprable in this style of water movement/ swimming.

    d

  31. Hi Donna, I totally agree that one of the challenges with the TI swim is body roll. Let me give you the method I tried to ease my learning curve about te body roll plus breathing thing.

    Take a push from the wall, roll the body to one side, say left, so that the left leg is on top of the right (or navel is pointing to the left wall). Keep your left hand on top of the body by the sides along the left side. The right hand is stretched out in the front below the right ear, parallel to the pool’s bottom. This is the streamlined position that you will start off in. All this while, your face should point to the bottom of the pool. Now with the single or triple kicks move forward. As you move, turn only your head from the bottom to the top to expose just the nose and mouth to breathe and then turn back again. Do this a couple of lengths and then breathe on the other side. This not only makes the breathing simpler, but also helps you practice bilateral breathing!! Do try and let me know if this helped.

    As for the second Q, the answer’s pretty simple. With the high-effort-swim, you are too tired for a length or two, but once you are into TI, you can do multiples of 10s!! Which one do you think is better?

    Keep Wet,

    Kiran

  32. Tim, When i was younger I didn’t ‘nearly’ drown, I went whole-hog with it. When I regained consciousness there was a strange man kissing me. I was pissed at him … my exit hallucination was the good kind and I was more than willing to go.

    That didn’t keep me from trying again and again.

    And failing each time (usually from cramps caused by having swimming class immediately after x-country practice). Half a length and the aluminum hook would be fishing me out of the water, doubled up with every muscle I owned spasmed solid. Although it looked easy enough, I couldn’t figure out how to tread water.

    Later I realized what my problem was … negative buoyancy. I didn’t reach neutral buoyancy until I was about 3 ft. under. And that is exactly 36 inches too late. I simply didn’t have enough body fat to be buoyant. I weighed 135 at HS graduation and could lift & throw 350 — clean lift from the waist — forward and up.

    I can hyperventilate, curl up and stay under a very long time (I used to play saxophone and can meter my air fairly well) … it’s actually quite peaceful at that depth. However, I need to be within a foot or so of bottom so I can push back up to air again.

    Now I am much older, softer and fatter. About 9-10 years ago I found that I am now positively buoyant and can actually swim a few strokes without having to kick like crazy just to keep my head out of the water. I’m still not high in the water, but a couple of inches make all the difference in the world!

    My body wants exercise and my back demands that it be low-impact so, as it works out, I was mentioning joining the local recreation department so I could get in some pool time during the winter and also get access to their free weights to my wife just a few days ago. I live far too sedentary a life and this is showing up in frequent back injuries & weeks camped out in the chiropractors office.

    It just sucks the life out of, well, life.

    I’ve already got a lot on my plate. Maybe I can find room for this, too.

  33. I have since gotten the book and DVD after reading this article a ways back. As a beginner swimmer it was so exciting to feel when you are doing it right. You can just feel it. It makes you feel graceful and like you actually belong in the water.

  34. Tim,

    A few months ago, I found your blog through this post. Since then, you have changed my life in a number of ways. I’ve read your entire blog, bought your book, clicked over to Ramit Sethi’s blog, read that, and bought his book, too. I’ve enrolled in TI swimming classes, which have made a HUGE difference in the way I swim. And I hired a virtual assistant through AskSunday. I’d never heard of such a thing before I found your blog. (I’ve also automated my finances as per Ramit’s suggestion.) I haven’t quit my job yet – I’m not sure if I want to – but I’m starting to explore other options and to look at the world in a whole new way. Thank you.

    Anne

  35. Tim,

    I bought the DVD and watched it enough times to be able to recite it word for word. And although practicing what it taught in the video has improved my technique, doing it alone is not as fruitful as I had expected. I’m going to get some personal instruction beginning in January. I think many of us need the feedback that you get from 1 on 1 instruction.

    OK now for the real purpose of this comment. I’d like to see you take on and accomplish a goal that so many find impossible to achieve. I’m talking about qualifying for the Boston Marathon. And the challenge for you (because you seem to be a fit guy) is to qualify after a very abbreviated training schedule. Then I want you to share your key steps with the rest of us.

    What do ya say Tim? Are you up for the challenge?

  36. I’ve read total immersion long before I discovered your site. It was helpful to an extend. A lot of the things I could not do though cause effectively I can swim with only one side of my body on account of being a CP. One have to use your imagination a lot when that is the case.

    I know it would be difficult for you to make suggestions on what to do because you haven’t view me in the water, but I want to tumble turn and that I can not do on account of not having enough speed when I come to the wall.

    Any suggestions?

  37. I am novice swimmer. Prior to June, 2009, my ‘swimming’ experience is best described as doggy paddling, and diving off to the deep end of the pool to wriggle my way back to do it again. After doing 7 marathons (1 per year), I thought I should try something different… I figure Triathlons sounds challenging. I did my first 3 sprint triathlons last fall, and am hooked. I signed -up for a Half Ironman in June and am PETRIFIED of the swim. I also signed up for the Kailua-Kona Ironman Lottery, and about crapped my pants at the thought of getting in (…honestly, I really dow want to get in). I have watched over and over the yearly Kona Championships coverage since 2001, and I am VERY INTIMIDATED of the swim. I was hoping you guys can help.

    Currently, I can swim upto 0.75 miles without stopping with a stroke count of 55 strokes/50 meters. My speed is about 11 minutes/0.25 miles. I kinda thought myself how to swim by watching other people, and through drive by tips from some fellow swimmers in the pool I trained in. I thought TI would be a wonderful skill to have to help me prepare.

    I just ordered the book and DVD for TI, but I am concerned about a couple of things: (1). How do I know I’m doing it right? (2) Does TI work for Open Water/Ocean Swims? or for larger people for that matter? (3) I can’t swim on my side (4) My shoulder/torso rotates but my hip doesn’t follow ( I basically twist at the hips, but don’t know how to correct it outside of asking a doctor to put a brace connecting my back to my waist)?

    I LOVE SWIMMING and would love to develop the skill better to get me to life goals (i.e. Ironman). Someone in this thread said that TI Swimming is like a meditation movement in water. I hope for that feeling. I love swimming, but regret that my form/technique is so poor that it prevents me from enjoying it to its full potential.

    Any thoughts?

    Emerson

    PS: Happy New Year to Everybody.

  38. My wife is going scheduled for her 1st triathlon. We’re working on our swimming together, now.

    I’ve finished about 20 tri-s, mostly Olympic distance and X-terra courses. TI swimming really helped me, too. (Love your page of hand written notes…good stuff!)

    My pearls:

    1. One really good thing to learn for triathlon is “peeping” (just lifting your head enough to site the buoy). If you do it right, your goggles only come half-way out of the water. That saves energy by keeping your hips high and your momentum going forward. If you lift your head completely out of the water to see where you’re going, you sink as your legs drop and you start swimming “uphill.” (Wastes mucha energia.)

    2. Also, alternating interval sprints (for speed and power) with slow gliding (for technique) maximizes your time in the pool. Sort of like Fartlek running for swimmers.

    3, Getting time in the open water is also a really good idea before you experience the mayhem that is a triathlon start!

    4. If you get a wetsuit, don’t get one that’s too small. It will constrict your range of motion and increase the work of breathing.

    Swim on friends!

  39. Tim,

    I have been a swimmer my whole life. All your tips are great.

    Here is a challenge for you. In high school, our coach made us, during spring break no less, do 100 x100 with a 30 second break between each 100. He did give us a 3 minute break at the 50 mark though. If you wonder if your arms will ever fall off, give this a try. Just don’t drive til a few hours after.

    We did it and all we got was a lousy t-shirt. But I can tell you that I wore that t-shirt til it disintegrated. Still wish I had it!

    Cheers.

    Michelle

  40. Just ran across the term “immersion swimming” and came onto this website.

    I’ve been lap swimming for close to fifty years…will be eligible for medicare in a few months…but it was only twenty years ago that I decided I was trying way too hard to put in my laps. I started to see how “few” strokes I could do to cover a pool, not how many. To my surprise my energy increased, along with my endurance and speed. At the age of 50 I was doing 150 to 200 laps 4-5 times a week. I loved to study seals and dolphins at various aquariums and was fascinated with the ease at which they slipped through the water. Then I began to realize that swimming is mental and emotional, not physical. Now I realize that is called “total immersion” swimming. I’m not saying I discovered it, but thats what I’ve been doing doing for over 20 years. By the way, there is something akin to “runners high” when you’re swimming, but it usually doesn’t happen until I swim at least 130 laps or so. When that happens I could swim forever…what a feeling!!

    Anyway, due to a hip injury I stopped a few years ago, but as soon as I get me a brand new (titanium) hip, I’ll be back in the pool…..

  41. Unfortunately, swimming cannot be taught by simulation, like driving can.The biggest problem is the breathing part. One can learn to drive a vehicle (including aircraft) by simulation and NASA used that fact to train astronauts. That made the Apollo 11 moon mission as well as the rocket possible. But swimming cannot be learned by simulation. That is too damn bad.You have to try it and get it right on the first try. Otherwise you must abort the attempt OR drown!

  42. Hi Tim (and fellow readers),

    First of all, can’t wait for your new book. 4HWW was one of the best books I ever read, and I especially loved how it cut right to the good stuff and didn’t patronise you for hours about why it worked. Love it!

    So, in the spirit of cutting things down, I have noticed that many of the comments for this blog are from triathletes.

    I want to do my first triathlon this November. I work a pretty demanding job with a lot of travel (again, because I love doing it, not because I am slave to it :)) which makes all the triathlon training scheudles I have seen seem near impossible.

    My goal is simple – I want to complete an Olympic distance tri, and would like to do so in under 3 hrs. Not too demanding. What I need to find out, is how I can cut down the training requirments to get there on a training schedule that needs to be time efficient and flexible to location.

    I can usually fit in a 45 km ride every Sunday because I love riding. I usually fit in a couple of 3.5Km runs a week too. Getting time in pool is hard (may TI like you suggested may work for me?).

    So, I am looking for suggestions from the collective wealth of knowledge in your readership. How can I achieve my goal by either:

    a) Using intensive ‘training’ like what you advocate above

    b) Time and location flexible training to maintain my fitness and ability to compete effectively in all three discplines.

    I really look forward to hearing what you all have to say. Please do include any comments about pre- and post- recovery techniques to maximise workout effects.

    Thanks guys!

    OP

  43. Tim,

    I’d always struggled with doing the freestyle until I read this specific blog post.

    Before when I could barely complete one 50m lap without feeling like I was going to throw up from exhaustion, I now am able to swim 40 or more depending on how I pace myself.

    The shocking thing was that all it took was a simple 5 minute adjustment to my technique to solve a problem I’d always considered ‘too hard and would take forever to fix’

    Now I enjoy swimming freestyle, and I owe it to you.

    Because of this, I now truly believe that some of the hardest problems we face can actually be solved with simple solutions.

    Thanks for changing my mindset and for letting me enjoy the freestyle.

    Yasuo Long

  44. I have been in and around water all my life. I used shoulder strength and lots of kicking to pass speed swims in lifeguard exams when I was younger. I always found towing someone on my side less taxing than dragging just myself along with front crawl.

    Earlier in the week I read this article. I bought Terry Laughlin’s book and tried to apply the theory in the first half of the book in the pool before I’d even reached the drills section. I couldn’t believe the difference it made. Taking it nice and easy I attempted to swim on stay as long as possible, rolling my body and keeping an arm out in front until the other arm was just entering the water again. It was faster even on the first attempt. Knowing that my swimming form needs a lot of improvement and seeing the effects of my first attempt at a very rough approximation to TI style front crawl, is very encouraging. I can’t wait to see how fast I will be once I get the hang of it.

    I am starting to do the drills now and just want to be in the pool every spare moment.

  45. Hi,

    Great Technique. I went from one struggling length to 40 easy lengths in a few months………

    Plus I enjoy the swim at the same time.

    My son’s coach makes me do a few fast lengths each session, with a more speed at all costs style, but these are also easier due to absorbing the general principles 🙂

    cheers

    Tony

  46. Hi Tim, I like how your work to improve in swimming goes right along with the new rich thinking. Do it efficiently.

    thanks for writing the book too, it redefined my workday completely.

  47. Hello Tim,

    I bought your book few months back and it’s now one of my all time favorite books! I started reading your blog just recently and came across this post. A natural backstroke swimmer but I could only swim up to 125 yards the most in freestyle before I feel like I’ve climbed up Everest!

    The book and Dvd still hasn’t arrived yet. I played the video you posted few times, took some notes including the comments from the pros (this is a big help) and went to the pool yesterday. The first 40 minutes were rough, it felt like learning swimming all over again and then it started to get better. I swam 200 yards without losing my breath and even managed to cut my stroke.

    I couldn’t wait for the shipment to arrive and thanks Tim for the great post!

  48. On the side note, I ordered your book from Amazon since it’s not available here in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Only last week I saw a copy of your book in the entire bookstore. SEA can have a little more Tim I guess 🙂 Come and visit us one day, you have one big fan here!

  49. A response to David Catleugh’s question: Last December I decided to sign up for my first triathlon and needed to learn to swim laps, as I had never done that. This blog convinced me to buy the Total Immersion DVD and book and teach myself to swim. (THANK YOU!) I will tell you that I was able to learn a great deal and got about 90% of the way toward developing a new stroke just from watching the DVD, reading the book, watching Shinj video above, and doing the drills. BUT…. I did hit a snag in my training at the point when I started to add breathing to the stroke and decided to find a Total Immersion coach for some help. (The Total Immersion website has a link to coaches in your area.) Doing that was very, very helpful. The coach quickly identified some glitches in my technique, gave me some pointers that steered me in the right direction, and I was able to get over the hump. I’m still refining the stroke (an ongoing process for everyone), but I’m now able to swim 100 yard repeats with 20 second breaks for 40 minutes at a time. So, yes I think you can learn to swim with the book and DVD, but at some point you may need a bit of help from someone who knows this stuff to look at what you are doing.

  50. Thank you! I have never swam in my life and my best friend challenged me to try a triathlon with her. I’m an avid runner and biker, so I figured I could just tough out the swim and then make up my performance on the other legs. Unfortunately, my technique was so bad that I was expending crazy amounts of energy and after just a few practice lengths, I was exhausted and could barely walk away from the pool. The tips listed on this site have given me a starting point to increasing the efficiency of my swim and hopefully with practice I will be able to complete the required distance without killing myself. Thank you so much! Wish me luck!

  51. Thank you Tim.

    I came across your post and it inspired me to find a TI school here in Australia and take a weekend course ‘Fishlike Freestyle Swimming’. I have never been taught swimming before. While I have to admit – two days were certainly not enough for me to master swimming – I have problem with breathing at the moment – I still think I made huge progress. For anyone interested in a random guy’s experience, here’s my progress:

    Before TI – from above

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz-eCSjD9nk

    Before TI – from below

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2_YWQ5Rwjg

    After TI – from above

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ezr3MDRAPHs

    After TI – from below

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWLdvlk3dkY

  52. Tim! You’ve changed my life!

    The first few lines of your blog completely mirrored my life and how I felt about swimming….desperate, panicky, and clumsy.

    After the FIRST time trying the TI method, I was shocked! I did just one lap (half the pool) and I was amazed at the ground I’d covered with so little effort! Not to mention I WASN’T OUT OF BREATH AND MY HEART WASN’T RACING! Incredible indeed.

    I’m 56 and almost 80 pounds overweight and I NEEDED a way to exercise that was low impact and effective. This is it! Now I call myself a SWIMMER! I love it and I’ve shared the method with my “swimmer” friends and they just don’t get it (I send them the link to help explain). I think we ex-non-swimmers have more of an appreciation for it because we have suffered so much with what I like to call “swimmer’s anxiety”!

    THANK YOU so much! I’m a swimmer now. I just need a snorkel so I can go longer without having to breathe! That’s the next step….breathing.

    Susan

  53. Wow! I went from what felt more like controlled drowning, to being a confident swimmer. I have hated swimming all my life, and now I am hooked. Thanks so much for the great article!

    I have my first open water swim class in the sf bay next week. Pretty nervous about the 60 degree water, but pumped to test my new skills!

  54. Great post. Made me want to head back down to the pool and swim a few laps. And no, it’s absolutely never too late to start swimming! My father didn’t start swimming until he was 55, and now (ten years later) he doesn’t go a day without a few laps at the community pool.

  55. thanks for the tips. i’m 28 and i just started swimming since my fiancee had the final say. work requires me to go on oil rigs offshore so i guess swimming is a must. sink or swim!

  56. Tim,

    You’re right on. The concepts of TI are amazing. I began training for my first triathlon earlier this summer. Two weeks out from the race and I could not even complete half of the required swim distance. Came across TI and within seven days I was swimming the entire distance with ease. I could not believe I had spent eight weeks struggling and frustrated. I almost dropped out of the race. I completed my tri with ease now looking to start training for the 70.3 Ironman.

  57. I sIgned up for a triathlon earlier this year with no idea how to swim, and like a good procrastinator I waited 3 weeks before the race to learn. I remember reading this post 2 years ago and felt confident that if Tim could learn it in 10 days so could I.

    After my first session I wondered what the hell I got myself into. I would be able to do 2 laps before having to stop and take a 4 minute break to get my breath back. I read this blog post each night but really didn’t know how I was going to improve. I was determined to add an extra lap each day.

    And that’s what I did until day 8, where I had my worst session yet. I was back to 3 laps max! It was very dissapointing but I couldn’t quit.

    Day 9 I hit the pool in a calm mindset with a “I don’t give a damn what happens I’m going to make it” attitude, and successfully swam 40 laps without losing my breath. I was astonished. 7 tough laps to 40 easy laps is a big jump.

    Kicked ass in my Tri and now I’m hooked. Swimming is a big part of my life and I no longer will go to a gym without a pool.

    Thanks Tim, I owe you a beer.

  58. Tim,

    You are absolutely on target to have found TI! I felt the same, I could race a half-marathon but could not turn the corner on swimming despite hours of repetitive laps trying to do things I thought were right. I did a TI Freestyle workshop last year and this year I feel like I am ready to think seriously about the 70.3 distance for my next triathlon. I would encourage anyone thinking about trying TI to ‘dive in’ the water’s fine.

    Dave P.

  59. I’m an Air Force Pararescue hopeful who was really struggling with a prerequisite to joining-swimming 500m in under 11:30 without resting. I’m a fit guy but when I got in the water it was a disaster.

    After picking up the TI DVD and book, I have gone from a non-swimmer to being able to do the 500m in under 10 minutes. It’s an effing miracle. TI works.

    Oh, and I second Brian’s challenge to you, Tim. I’d love to get some tips on running. I’m hoping to BQ (Boston Qualify) at the Surf City Marathon February 6, 2011. I’d love to see you there!

    1. I am an Air Force Combat Control hopeful and I have the same requirement for my PAST. I was a disaster my first time swimming and after a couple weeks of practice I am doing so much better! I haven’t tried TI yet but I am sure that I will be able to blow the requirement right out of the water.

      The running is what I am really having troubles with. I know this is a swimming website but if you have any advice I would greatly appreciate. I’ve been running 3 miles every other day and 1.5 miles on the other days. I just am not able to run fast enough at those distances.

      Also any advice for push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups would be good.

  60. Sammy V,

    Congratulations on meeting your 500m swim goal for Air Force Pararescue qualification! OK, off to Boston and how to qualify. I am not sure where to start. Except to throw out a few tid bits that I learned way back when I was racing competetively at the 1/2 marathon distance.

    1) I bought a heart rate monitor (HRM) about three years ago and love it! I think it gives a runner a great look at how warmed up you are, and how much you are exerting yourself when you are pushing yourself. I use it on easy days to maintain the low intensity critical for recovery.

    2) Odd as it may seem when I raced competetively my slowest mile in a half marathon and even indoor 3-mile was the first mile! Then I proceeded to accelerate and pass people gradually making my way to the front, I did win this way. I conditioned myself when I did my weekly long slow distance (LSD) run by going out real slow and then finally building up to a tad under race pace at the tail end or finish going up a hill.

    3) My theory on 2) is that your heart is not ready to power you at maximum speed at the start of a race. I think it takes a little time to ‘fully dilate’ the heart muscle and circulatory system. If you begin to use a heart rate mionitor you may see the following. When I start jogging my heart rate goes up, after a short while my heart rate drops, and for me I need about 15 minutes to get ready to go!

    4) If your background is not track and racing the 1,500 m – 5K I would suggest racing at the 5 K distance to see what your race pace is, and also try the aceleration game, it’s way more fun to pass people than to slow down and be passed at the end!

    5) Good Luck!

    Dave Price

    Weare, NH

  61. Some great tips, its easy to think your doing the most efficient stroke, just because it feels ‘right’ perservere wth small alterations as suggested and they soon feel ‘right’ ………. i regulary do 25k (15+miles) mainly pool, and have trimmed 10 to 15 mins off of my normal time, doesnt sound a lot over that distance, trust me it is!.. just one tip for distance swimmwers for energy conservation and balance from me would be to use single leg alternate kicks, … left arm hits the water, single right leg kick, right arm hits the water, single left leg kick …. so on and on…………. good work!

  62. Tim, this is hard to believe. Five days ago I could barely manage a length’s front crawl of the 50m pool at Bath University’s Sports Training Village (open to the public!) I would reach the other end barely half alive, and barely afloat too.

    Over the last few days I have been reading Terry Laughlin’s book, having found a reference on your blog.

    This morning, with all Terry’s theory swimming around in my head (forgive pun) I entered the pool and completed 20 lengths of crawl. I could not believe the transformation in my technique and capabilities.

    Ok, I was just about the slowest swimmer in the pool, but the fact that I could cover such distance doing crawl, with a brief pause at the end of the each 50m, was testament to the Total Immersion method. It is truly remarkable.

    There you go, that’s my tuppence worth.

    Cheers

    Graham

  63. Last Jan. I was an overweight 55 year old couch potato who had never exercised in my life except to walk now and then. For some crazy reason I signed up to do a sprint triathlon. One of the requirements is a 500 meter swim. I could dog paddle and float ( I could float real good). I kept telling everyone I would could do the 12 mile bike ride and the 5k walk (couldn’t run). But there was no way I was swimming. My friends kept telling me I needed to at least try the swimming. So I did. The first time it took me 45 mins. to do 2 laps. I was exhausted. I had to keep my face out of the water because I had no idea how to swim with it in. I hated it. I figured for the race I would just swim on my back (basically float while moving my arms). I continued to try a little more each time, to swim like a real person. The day of the race I swam most of it on my back flipping over on my face only twice. It took me 40 minutes. I then became determined to swim more efficient and enter another race where I would not swim on my back. What I discovered is the more I relaxed, the more I could just glide through the water. All of a sudden I had a rhythm and I was not out of breathe….My time increased as did my well being. I started loving to swim. It has become my meditation time as well and my exercise time. Only those who love to swim understand how incredibly soothing it all is….. Me…loving to swim…It was crazy….But I did and do. So here I am, 10 months later…30 lbs lighter and I swim almost everyday. Today I did, easily 1500 meters in 40 mins. My goal is a mile by Jan. I have no doubt I will make it…..The advice on here is some of the best I have seen for getting into the pool and being successful…..Thanks for letting me add my 2 cents!!

  64. This is absolutely for real. I was always the kind of swimmer who could manage about 15 minutes of swimming laps before I had to crawl out of the pool to rest for an hour. I spent more energy than anyone else in the water and moved slower than anyone else.

    I have been working on TI swimming for a little over a week. This weekend I jumped into a full length Olympic pool and swam steadily, with breaks to work on swim thoughts, for two hours and got out of the pool feeling rested and relaxed.

    People used to look at me in the pool with a ‘poor guy can’t swim, but he sure tries hard’ look on their face. This weekend, all I got was 100% ‘how the crap is that guy moving so fast doing so little?’

    I know this reads like an infomercial, but there just isn’t any other way to describe the difference. TI swimming gave me the single biggest athletic improvement of my life in less than a week. And now I have the rest of my life to work on refining the techniques and to enjoy swimming.

  65. Been swimming since age of 8…lap swimming for at least 40 yrs. and in a few months I will turn 66 while still enjoying the water. I didnt realize that my mode of swimming was called TI until I came across the website a few weeks ago. The way I got into it was by swimming lap after lap until I forgot about my stroke, technique, or even that I was in the water. After an hour or so I would find myself swimming effortlessly for mile after mile. This is what many of us call being in the “zone”. I don’t even close my mouth..I stop the water with my throat. For some it may help to listen to music to get relaxed enough for this type of swimming. You can perform amazing feats using this technique. Once towed a 20 ft cabin cruiser for 7 hours to get it into the harbor..(stalled engine) and wasn’t especially tired. For a day of leisure, my buddy and I used to swim out to the middle of a lake and spend the day talking, swimming and floating. Used the same philosophy in running and found it works just as well. Don’t worry about speed, that comes all by itself.

  66. These are awesome tips! I already really love swimming and look forward to streamlining it. I have asthma and they say that swimming is really great for it. I may not ever know what a runner’s high feels like, but I know that swimming is addictive! You can really lose yourself in it and lose track of time and everything. Sometimes I feel like I could swim forever if it weren’t for hunger pains. I can’t wait for our lake to thaw out so I can try some TI!

  67. I was a competitive swimmer up to the age of 16, then had 10 years out and recently went back to training for fitness and fun, but was struggling to make the sessions interesting. THEN, I tried these techniques and it felt absolutely amazing! I was travelling further, faster and using less energy than ever before, literally streaming past the other swimmers in the pool. I thoroughly recommend this to anyone wanting to improve their stroke! It’s addictive.

  68. Having been injured for a long time, exercising is reduced to swimming, walking and cycling for me at the moment. I’ve a very fine breast stroke going, but had never learned a front crawl (freestyle). Panicking and breathing water after 3 strokes never really tempted me to continue somehow. I started using a few of the advices up here and stopped breathing water. A bit too embarrassed to seem to really be trying at this point, I still mostly did breast stroke…..until a physiotherapist basically told me I wasn’t allowed to.

    Long story short, I haven’t even watched the dvd/read the book (yet), but just swam 2 km in an hour and twenty minutes earlier this evening. Not particularly fast, but for someone who couldn’t even swim a single length three weeks ago, it’s pretty damn exciting!

    Cheers for being ocd mate!

    P.s. Get yourself on a camel while you’re in the middle east. They’re the most hilarious and chilled out creatures out there.

  69. Hello Tim,

    I started swimming 3 years ago. When I started, I could barely swim a lap. In 3 weeks, 21 workouts, I was able to swim 1650 yards without stopping. I followed this ZERO to 1650 workout, http://ruthkazez.com/ZeroTo1mile.html . At the time, I had been a smoker for 14 years. After the first week I stopped smoking with no nicotine fits or withdrawals and haven’t smoked since. I now enjoy a daily 3 mile swim.

    I love the research you have put into this.

  70. Hi Tim!

    I have been teaching myself TI swimming after reading the 4HB. I have always considered myself to be a good swimmer but I’m loving the TI method because of the rythym! I am currently recovering from two surgeries; ankle ligament reconstruction & knee arthroscopy, and got the go ahead before X’mas to up the ante on exercise. I’m also doing rehab stuff at a gym & was not allowed any impact stuff until a couple of weeks ago. I studied the barefoot running technique through your Terra Plana/Vivobarefoot links to minimise impact on the treadmill…just spewing that I’d just bought a pair of runners because now I want Vivobarefoots! My goal is to return to karate (my passion) next month and get my black belt just after I turn 50. In the meantime, me and two girlfiends are researching our muse! Many thanks! (or in aussie: Onya, mate!)

  71. I saw you when you came to visit us at Google recently. I got your book (4 Hour Body). I’m trying your diet and kettle bell routines to limited success, but the big reason for my compliment is the Total Immersion swimming you highlighted. I’ve been able to reduce my 50m times from 1min 05s to :45s. All with less effort.

    I can’t wait to swim in my triathlon in 4 weeks.

    I appreciate you being the human guinea pig for all of us.

    Shout out to Terry Laughlin too!

  72. TI works! From struggling in the pool 2 months ago to swimming 1500 metres in choppy seas yesterday I can testify to the transformation but I still have a long way to go. For quick results my recontamination would be to get a TI coach on go on a a TI camp unless you are super motivated to go through the book and DVDs. You can swim like a Dolphin – believe.

  73. I’ve had huge improvements with the introductory DVD. I thought I was an okay swimmer but as it took the TI ‘O2’ video on breathing for me to realise how uncomfortable I actually am with having my head in the water. I’d get completely out of breath and tire easily because I was so afraid I’d inhale water. Still learning and improving with it.

    There’s a 10% Off coupon here for anyone considering purchasing: http://www.retailmenot.com/view/totalimmersion.net

  74. Hi

    Thanks for all the advice. I am frustrated with TI as I seem to be always practising technique and never speeding up. I have 2 x triathlons in August (missed 1 last year cause I knew with the TI my speed wasn’t up to it) and am worrying that my swim time will be rubbish. I have the book, need to finish watching the DVD but am stressing because the theory sounds great but the speeds are so SLOW!

    Any help/advice welcome.

    1. For me, it was a grind until somehow it just clicked. I did spend a lot of time piecing it together. I think the section of the book that’s more focused on the 4-5 things to think about while swimming is very helpful — maybe more so than the slow piecing together of the stroke. If you can, find a TI instructor near you (there’s a list on the TI website) and book a single lesson so that he/she can look at your stroke. I did that when I was in your situation and got 3-4 things to work on that made a huge difference. The biggest for me was forcing myself to keep my legs really quiet — just that tiny flick to trigger the balance shift. I didn’t realize that I was slowing myself down with over-active legs.

      1. Thanks for the encouragement. I intend to persevere but unfortunately the nearest TI people are in Swiss Germany (I am in France)…