What is Total Immersion Swimming?
Total Immersion makes the process of learning to swim or improving your swim efficiency easier than any other approach in the world. If you want to learn swimming for the first time, overcome your fears of the water, be able to swim more than a few lengths of the pool without getting out of breath, swim your first mile, improve your ironman swim time or your efficiency for a marathon swim, Total Immersion caters for everyone.
As terrestrial mammals who spend most of their time in an upright position, swimming in a liquid in a horizontal position is completely alien to us. Our natural instinct when in water is to survive and keep our head above water to breathe. We tend to assume that pulling and kicking harder will make us go faster. In fact, moving the water around rather than moving through it, as many swimmers tend to do, creates massive amounts of drag and we end up fighting the water rather than working with it.
Total immersion teaches every swimmer, from non-swimmers to marathon swimmers to be completely at ease and 'weightless' in the water. You learn to make your body more fish-like by using your whole body in a connected way to move forward in the water more effortlessly. You use your body weight and natural forces (gravity and buoyancy) to assist your tireless core muscles to do this rather than rely on shoulder and leg muscles which tire much more quickly and use more energy.
Terry Laughlin, the founder of this technique, revolutionised the way we can think about swimming. He worked out the most effective way to learn, based on martial arts training and neural research, the latter of which has shown that humans of any age can build new muscle memories to replace older one through highly focused practice of mini skills (so old dogs can learn new tricks!). Total Immersion has taught thousands of swimmers since 1989 and has proved that you don't need to be young, fit and strong to learn to swim more efficiently and therefore faster.
As a TI swimmer, you will learn keys skills in a structured order, as in the adjacent pyramid. We start with good balance, core stability, how to be streamlined and then once these skills have been achieved, we work on efficient propulsion. A core principle in this method is that minimising drag is more important and effective than focusing on building your aerobic engine. Hence the emphasis on balance, stability and streamlining before addressing propulsion and speed.
At each stage, your stroke is broken down into a set of mini skills and we work on learning new movement patterns (where needed), learning to feel what the correct movement is and practicing these in a very focused way. We then build these back into the whole stroke. All TI swimming practice, whether you are a new TI swimmer learning different movements, or a more experienced TI swimmer working on propulsion and speed, involves swimming with focal points, setting yourself achievable goals, and trying to be a better swimmer each time you leave the pool or open water.