Whether you are a beginning swimmer or a seasoned professional, Total Immersion swimming -- developed by US swimming coach Terry Laughlin -- might enhance your performance. If you have always struggled through the water with more traditional methods of swimming, this technique might make it easier for you. By contrast, if you are a triathlete or distance swimmer, Total Immersion swimming can help you conserve energy. Practicing specific swimming drills will assist you with mastering the technique and help you become one with the water.
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What is Total Immersion Swimming?
Total Immersion, or TI, swimming stresses efficiency and comfort in the water. This is in contrast to traditional swimming, which focuses on lap counts and times. Thus, it is more about your technique rather than the turnover rate of your strokes. In a sense, TI swimming is a more mindful practice, such as yoga. You concentrate on maintaining a balanced and streamlined body in the water and use shifts in your core to propel you through the water. Rather than fight the water, you become one with it by embracing your body’s natural ability to float.
Sweet Spot Drill
Swimmers were once taught that to ride on top of the water and move faster, they needed to keep their heads up. This technique has since been replaced by the realization that keeping your head in line with your spine will bring your legs and hips naturally to the surface. To assist with finding your “sweet spot” in the water, lie on your back and gently kick your legs. Slowly rotate your body from side to side while keeping your face and mouth out of the water. Use your core to maintain balance and adjust your head and neck position until this drill comes naturally to you.
Hand-Lead Sweet Spot Drill
The hand-lead sweet spot drill will help you perfect your breathing. Assume the same position in the water as you would for the sweet spot drill. This time, move the arm that is on the side of your body most submerged in the water forward. Focus on keeping your ear of that side close to your shoulder. You will notice that when your ear and shoulder separate, you will start to sink. This connection is crucial for freestyle swimming.
Use the fish drill when you need to practice kicking. It will assist you with maintaining buoyancy in the water by relying on your lungs as natural flotation devices. Start with your sweet spot, and then rotate your head so that it is face down in the water. Stay on your side and keep your spine straight. If you are positioned correctly, your legs and hips will naturally rise to the surface of the water. Maintain a slow kicking cadence so that you are consciously aware of yourself floating in the water. If you start to sink, lean into your chest and notice how your legs and hips float again.