Total Immersion report

As a few of you know I’ve been on a Total Immersion workshop this past weekend and some of your are interested in what I thought, so here is my report: -

Total Immersion sells itself as a new approach to swimming that is foolproof and can help any student master a fluent, beautiful and economical style and brings results far faster than conventional methods that do not rely on endless lengths and countless sets of pulling and kicking.

But the question is “DOES IT DELVER?”

Well the short answer is “YES” and here is why I think so:

The weekend started at 9am on the Saturday morning with a class room session that covered the traditional introductions of the coaches and the trainees and this boded well from the start with 6 coaches to just 19 trainees. Most the others on the workshop were either triathletes or swimming coaches looking for that “something extra”. We moved quickly on from the introductions to an overview of what we would be doing in the first pool session (using video examples and explanation from the coaches”

The first pool (just over 2 hours) started with swimming some warm up laps then being videoed doing your normal swim, to be analysed later – then into the first drills
The early drills were to teach how to find perfect balance in the water and to help you feel comfortable with balance in the water – for this session we worked in pairs and the coaches were in the water helping us get into the right positions for the different drills, so we new what it felt like to be correct in the water etc… (Balance is one of the most important elements in TI)

After lunch it was time for video analysis – my video reviled that my speed was down to strength and aggression along with the fact I swam “Up Hill” and used about 20 strokes to get up the pool (along with a few other dodgy areas). We then discussed the next pool session.

Back into the pool and more drills starting with and building on what we had done during the morning session with added emphasis on being long and streamline in the water again with great attention and direction from the coaching – again over 2 hours in the pool

End of day 1



  • The Sunday started at 8:45 with a drill pool session, refreshing what we had done on the Saturday and building on the drills again – by now I could see the importance of all the really basic drills we had done and how the drill were building towards actual swimming – again about 2 hours in the pool with the coaches helping us ‘get’ the drills.

    An early lunch was followed by a class room session, which included a question and answer session followed by explanation of the advanced drills we were about to try in the pool.
    The afternoon pool session we were introduced to a TI training aid FIST GLOVES (the only training aid we were encouraged to use – TI does not use Kickboards OR pullbouys as these mess up balance and streamline position in the water). Fist gloves are a bit like marigold gloves with their fingers cut off and stitched up, they allow you to do drills with your hand in a fist but at the same time remain relaxed (relaxation is another important aspect of TI) The drills build up till a point when you are almost swimming, but not quite

    Then it was time to remove the gloves and for the second video analysis session – we were given time to swim a few lengths before the videoing began and then we were asked to swim concentrating on just one of the many things that we had learnt over the weekend – I chose looking straight down to help with my bodies balance.

    The classroom analysis showed me swimming a lot smoother, relaxed and streamline within the water, not perfect but miles better than I had been, and I was now swimming at a stroke count of 13 per 25m – a VAST efficiency improvement in anyone’s books

    A final question and answer session and advice from the coaches on how we could take things forward with TI in our training completed the workshop – and I left feeling very good and that it had been well worth the price for the workshop

  • The workshop did not turn me into a TI swimmer over the weekend but that is not what it is intended to do, it did provide me with the drills and the knowledge of how to correctly execute those drills to help me on the way – something a feel that can not be fully gained from the books or videos – Doing the drills over a period of time is what will turn me into a TI swimmer

    The coaches were both professional and enthusiastic on what they were teaching and the ratio of coaches to trainees meant that you never felt that you were being neglected.

    And watching one of the coaches demonstrate TI swimming in all its glory was like watching visual poetry – smooth, quite and effortless as he (a rather large American) swam up and down the pool using only about 10 strokes per length

    In TI you do not pull and kick your way through a swim, instead you use the water with a streamline balance and the use of our core body to move forward (a bit more complicated than that – but I’ll not go in to it here) it is a way of having a good swim and at the same time conserving energy (which makes sense in TRI) – to me it all made sense and I will be devoting a lot of my swim time to TI drills to help re-programme my swim style, I also bought the DVD to keep the drills fresh in my mind and may in the future do another workshop to advance even further.

    So would I recommend the workshop - Yes

    I’ll answer any questions anyone has (that i can)

  • Great report WildWill. I've just ordered the new book "Triathlon Swimming made easy".

    One question...

    TI will make you a smoother and more efficient swimmer, reducing your stroke rate too. But will it make you a faster swimmer? eg. My 750m time is around 13mins. Will it get me into the 11's if i practice and practice?
  • Yes you can get faster by perfecting the technique - but it takes time (months) to retrain to a new technique - but you can start applying what you learn a bit at a time by concentrating on one thing at a time and as you persist with the drills more and more will become automatic to the swimmer

  • Good report WW.

    How about somebody who can't do front crawl?

    or would I need to learn that first?
  • You can book 1-to-1 sessions with TI coaches - they said they were teaching a few non swimmers and very young kids

    I would say you should be able to do FC a bit before attending the workshop
  • Wiil,
    excellent mate... Cheers... Have read the book (dr. Nic's copy!) and was interested to hear how putting it onto practice went..

    sounds good...

    Sam I'm not a strong swimmer either, and sometimes I think the idea of not having any swim preconceptions or bad, previous swimming habits may aid learning TI technique....
  • Agree Mmmm - my problem will me trying to unlearn what i do already
  • Sounds good Will. Funnily enough the looking straight down at the bottom of the pool that you chose to concentrate on is the thing that my coach and the SwimForTri people disagree with about TI. They prefer to look about five yards in front of you, still with a low head position, but its less of a movement to breathe.

    Definitely stick with what they said though if it felt good. Just don't overtake me in Florida, I think the wake would drown me.
  • I agree SL-M

    but if the coaching is geared to people who can already do freestyle.....

    I may just save up and go for the individual coaching....

    or I believe if you go to the US, they will teach beginners to freestyle.
  • you only actually swim FS twice during the weekend - the 2 video analysis - the rest is pure drills

    you spend more than half ypur time on your back or side
  • RM - TI is geared to threading your body through the smallest hole in the water therfore the least resistance - as soon as you look even the slightest bit forward, your head is coming up thus your legs go down - thus more resistance and more required effort

    There are lots of deffierent swiming techniques and most will work - i chose TI cos it made sense to me

  • Thats the thing ain't it Will... Its what makes sense to 'you'... Like I said I've read the book too, and finally I can understand what I'm supposed to be doing when swimming, not just thrashing about... Doing it is another matter entirely!!

    Richard... Nice one about the wake..! But As Will said, he'll be so streamlined, you won't even notice him pass you..


  • what was the cost of one of those weekends ww? and i take it from what you said that although your efficiency has increased your speed was less? is the aim to concentrate on this through the off season then? do you think you will find it frustrating or manageable?
  • Great report WW. Can I echo a lot of what you said as although I've never been on a TI course our swim coach teaches very much along similar lines. We also spend a lot of time on our sides, backs etc just getting a feel for balance in the water. We also use fist gloves which are a great training aid (and also don't use kick boards or pullbuoys). Without doubt everyone in our club who attends the swim sessions have seen dramatic improvements - partly in speed but also and more importantly in my view in decreased stroke count. This translates as far less effort for distance covered which pays huge dividends on the bike and run legs.
  • Moosey - I intend to persevere with TI as I think it will make me a mush more efficient and FASTER swimmer (and I’m no slouch now) – I intend doing 3 sessions a week incorporating TI Drills (some sessions will be complete Drill session)

    I may not manage it this next season but for the season after I’d like to get my IM swim close to the hour – I’m that confident in the aproach
  • Excellent report Will!

    The TI book helped me a lot. I was never a good swimmer and could hardly crawl 25m in the pool. The book gave me an idea on what to focus on.
  • Thanks Will - very interesting read...

    Has anyone got details of the TI book referred to ?
  • "Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster and Easier"
    by Terry Laughlin
  • There are new a few different books - including a one aimed at TRI
  • Thanks both - very helpful. I barely know how to swim at the moment so timing very useful


    PS Will - did you learn to write on a TI course ?!!!


    "watching one of the coaches demonstrate TI swimming in all its glory was like watching visual poetry – smooth, quite and effortless as he (a rather large American) swam up and down the pool using only about 10 strokes per length"

    Excellent stuff. Any chance of RW inviting you to submit an article for publication ?
  • If only...
  • go for it
  • JJ,
    take those bondage chains off or you'll sink!!

    and Will, why not... You listening RW...?!!
  • [gentle clinking overcome by rushing swirl of water...]

  • gurgle.. gurgle gurgle....

    someone pull her out, or is this drowning thing all part of the fun, like self asphixiation....
  • dunno - ask Barkles
  • Great report WW, obviously TI works for you. I slowed down considerably after I tried to change to TI swimming.
  • IW - i think the key was being taught it rather than trying to learn from a book etc

    But it will be a while before my speed comes and i get things sussed
  • Very interesting, Will I was wondering how it went.
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