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October 13, 2013

CHRIS DAVIES: Serious about swimming? Check out Total Immersion

Asking someone if they can swim is a lot like asking me if I can golf. Sure, I can do it, but it’s not a pretty sight. Most adults can swim, but they resemble someone in a state of controlled drowning.

For anyone interested in really learning how to swim well, there is Total Immersion. TI is no magic bullet that will transform your swimming overnight. Take everything you know regarding swimming and erase it from your brain. TI will teach you swimming from the ground up: teaching the philosophy behind it while you learn to swim relaxed and effortlessly.  

I found TI more than 20 years ago in Triathlete Magazine. Triathlons were fun, but my swimming needed some work. After a weekend workshop with TI, I had a decent foundation for progressing in swimming. Many years and workshops later, I can still swim well. My swims occur once each week emphasizing drills and technique. That time in the pool has allowed me to swim faster today than I did while logging four days in the pool and using fair technique. Aging athletes tend to use their brains more than their muscles.

The emphasis of TI is technique, lengthening your body, and torso rotation for propulsion. All athletes perform technique drills. Even swimmers practice technique. However, most swimming drills practiced today give you a false sense of body position.

Using a kickboard, hand paddles and fins for technique drills give a false sense of the water. A kickboard does not allow for a natural position in the water. Hand paddles and fins give a false sense of propulsion. Instead, focusing on body position, torso rotation and distance per stroke will produce a faster swimmer.

For example, when swimming with hand paddles, your hands feel like dinner plates and you can move pretty fast. It is well known that hand paddles can also cause shoulder injuries. Instead, try swimming with your hand rolled into a fist. You de-emphasize the hand pull and focus more on torso rotation for propulsion. Open your hand after a few hundred yards and you’ll be able to move much faster. A product called Fist Gloves really takes the water sensation from your hands.

Total Immersion does weekend workshops and week-long camps throughout the year all over the world. TI founder Terry Laughlin has grown the program into a worldwide swimming phenomenon. TI teaches kids through seniors how to learn and enjoy swimming.

If you are serious about swimming, look at Total

immersion.net. TI can also do workshops for area teams with an emphasis on all strokes. Also, search Youtube.com for TI videos.

Chris Davies, M.S., owns Fitness Solutions Inc. located at 1101 Walnut St., in Terre Haute. He can be reached at Fitsolutions1@msn.com.

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