Guest Post: The Best Time to Start Swimming (TI) is Now
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on March 17th, 2012

This is a guest post by TI-Japan Senior Coach Kyoko Tsukamoto

When I met TI I was 32 years old and had been swimming for five years. During those years I’d felt handicapped by having started at what seemed such an advanced age. I felt all the good swimmers had started younger and done millions of meters already. Plus I already felt ‘old.’ I tried to make up for lost time by swimming 6000 meters every day, copying the training of young competitive swimmers. I thought long, grueling training was the only way to make up for my ‘late start.’

TI showed me that any time is a good time to start swimming. I stopped worrying about what I hadn’t done before and was grateful for learning new things today – and for the many rewards TI Swimming will bring in the future.

As a TI coach, besides coaching many Japanese swimmers, I’ve been able to make friends from all over the world.  Because I speak a little English I’m often asked to coach visitors from other countries who come to Tokyo. [One of Kyoko’s transformed students is opera conductor Paolo Carignani.] This helps me learn about many cultures.

I’m impressed with the bravery of all my swimmers. Those just starting impress me because they feel it’s never too late to learn. We both feel happy when they learn to control their body –and their fears — in the pool. We’re happy again when they reach the goal that made them start lessons. I’m also impressed with the accomplished swimmers I teach, because they’re open-minded. While everyone else says you must train long and hard to swim well, they have decided to swim with mindfulness and grace. You must be brave to go your own way.

I would like to introduce one of my swimmers, Toshiko Nakagawa. Though I felt I was starting late at 27, Mrs. Nakagawa began swimming at age 77!  Her goal was to swim 50 meters without stopping. She achieved her goal of swimming 50 meters on Feb 29—five days before turning 80. Now her goal is to swim even better at age 85! Toshiko’s Kaizen spirit inspires me.

She still relies on me for help with technique, but she is strong and confident enough to practice on her own.  She grew to be independent of my mental support by developing a strong mind. A strong body follows. I believe when Toshiko looks in the mirror she sees someone who looks like her old self, but looks stronger and more confident. Then she realizes – it’s herself!

TI changed my life and Toshiko’s life also. How many more will follow?

Kyoko describes herself this way: Ten years ago, I couldn’t swim at all—not even in a pool. And I never dreamed I would swim in the sea. At 27, I became a swimmer. At 32, I became a TI Swimmer. Now, at 37 I’m a TI Senior Coach and my life has been forever changed by swimming. When I started, I thought swimming was just about competing. Now I swim mainly to find harmony with the water.

Here’s Coach Kyoko swimming in the sea in Guam.



7 Responses to “Guest Post: The Best Time to Start Swimming (TI) is Now”

  1. Maribel Andonian says:

    I firmly believe that age is an imaginary barrier. I began swimming (the TI way) at age 60 just so I could pass my 15 yd swim required for scuba diving certification. I loved it so much, swimming is now (7 years later) my preferred form of exercise, and 15 yards flys by as I settle in for my regular 3/4 mi or mile workout 4x a week. I have over 100 dives to my credit and have achieved Master Scuba Diver certification, the highest nonprofessional level a recreational diver can attain. I owe both achievements to TI training, which made swimming so enjoyable to me early on when I had an irratiional fear of drowning.

  2. It just shows that it is never too late to start swimming (or any sport for that matter).
    Enjoyed reading your post.
    And I wish Toshiko all the best for her goal at age 85.
    Thanks for Sharing

  3. Steve Howard says:

    Coach Kyoko,

    Congratulations on your accomplishments as a TI Coach and as TI Swimmer. I watched your video and you swim with much grace and fluid motion with the sea. I truly understand when you say “Now I swim mainly to find harmony with the water.”

    I also swim for many reasons, to teach, to compete, to learn, but most importantly – I swim often in open water because it frees my spirit and brings joy to my heart. Coach Kyoko, I really enjoyed your blog. Thank you for sharing.

    Respectfully – TI Coach Steve Howard (age – 59 years young)

  4. Kyoko Tsukamoto says:

    Coach Steve,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful, lovely message.

    I enjoy swimming almost everyday…never get bored because it’s been beautiful time while swimming and I feel same thing as you said, “it frees my sprit and brings joy to my heart”.

    Your message brought me happiness, so I will bring it for swimming tomorrow.

    I appreciate your message.

    TI Coach Kyoko Tsukamoto

  5. David Senn says:

    I can vouch for what Kyoko-san says. Before taking lessons with her I wasn’t able to even float. Approx 8 months on, now I can swim a four stroke medley, tumble turn and can swim 1.5km with relative ease.

    Without a shadow of a doubt, my swimming lessons are my favorite part of the week. The improvement is remarkable and I really enjoy seeing how much I progress with each lesson.

    I started at 28 years old and am looking forward to the rest of my life swimming.

    Thank you Kyoko-san.

  6. Kyoko Tsukamoto says:


    I also enjoy lesson with you because you always show me “advanced” changes.
    You are the one of brave swimmers who I wrote about in this article!

    I am looking forward to seeing you at today’s lesson.


  7. Andrea Anderson says:

    Your style and technique is with much grace and efficency. I have coached and taught swimmers of all ages. My motto was “DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS. WHAT WORKS FOR ONE DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK FOR ANOTHER”. Flexibility, body density (position in water), strength and conditioning along with physical health all play a part in one’s development.
    Fantastic keep up the great work.
    Andrea (Prince Rupert, BC Canada)

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