What I did on my vacation (at TI OW Experience, Maho Bay USVI)
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on February 8th, 2013

This is a guest post by Sarah Crymes.

Two weeks ago, I flew home from a week on St. John, USVI and Total Immersion’s Open Water Alumni Camp.  I’ve spent much of the time since contemplating why this experience felt so special:


The place:  St. John USVI is breathtaking in its beauty.  One of my goals for the week was to savor the view from Maho Bay Camps, because it is closing and so I won’t be able to gaze out from the same observation point again.  I kept reminding myself to be present and to take it all in.  I took photos because, in spite of my best intentions and mindful practices, my brain has a hard time grasping it.  Gently pinching myself was a helpful practice to say “yes, this is real. You are here and it is beautiful.  Treasure this moment.  Give thanks for being alive and having the health to be here.”


Celeste and the Coaching team:  Celeste St. Pierre was our camp director with a supporting cast of many of the best coaches that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with including Terry Laughlin, Dave Cameron, Jai Evans, Shane Eversfield, and Helenita Jacobs.  Since I attended this camp last year, I started this year with a high degree of trust that would invest themselves personally and professionally in my growth as a swimmer and that they’d do their best to watch out for my safety.  Celeste led us with great organizational skills and personal warmth, and I got specific actionable feedback from the coaches that I found to be extremely valuable.My swim buddies:  My highlight for the week was swimming with my primary swim buddy, Deb Brudvig, and with our friend Andrew Robinson on our longest swim.  It gave me great pleasure to synch swim with the two of them.  As Deb and I swam in synch into Trunk Bay, we had a small audience watching.


Our group dynamic
Since this was an alumni camp, I knew that I would feel comfortable with the diverse group of individuals attending.  What surprised me was the affection that I felt for my fellow swimmers, and the sense of community that we created together, like we belong to a far flung tribe that celebrates when we get together. Watching out for others and feeling watched over during challenging conditions in open water strengthened this bond for me.  nue in the future and relationships that will continue to grow (hopefully.) Also, I was accompanied on the trip by loved ones who had an adventure themselves and who gave me the time and space to have my own adventure.  They were welcomed by the group at dinners and so it was a fun family experience.



Achieving my goals:  My primary goal for the week was to remind myself what I’m capable of.  This goal was exceeded with a 4 mile swim, the longest that I’ve done to date.  My secondary goals were to practice my “cocoon of calm” in rough AKA “sporty” open water, and to improve my stroke.  I got lots of practice with my cocoon of calm, especially in the swim to Whistling Cay, and felt my mental and physical strength grow throughout the week.I’m grateful to Celeste, Dave and the other coaches for teaching and watching out for our safety; to my family for attending with me; for my health; and most especially for my swim buddies.  May we cross paths in the water or on land again soon.



Sarah Crymes is from Atlanta, Georgia.  She works on the business side of healthcare thanks to a MBA/ MHSA from the University of Michigan and undergraduate studies at Cornell University.  Her passion is swimming outdoors, with as much grace and beauty as possible.  She’s been practicing Total Immersion (TI) for 10 years and has attended a weekend TI workshop at Georgia Tech and the Total Immersion Maho Bay Open Water Swim Camp in St. John, USVI twice.  The photos in the fourth group were taken by Rhonda Freeman.

The next TI Open Water Experience will be March 25-30 in Kailua-Kona on the ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii.


One Response to “What I did on my vacation (at TI OW Experience, Maho Bay USVI)”

  1. Rob K says:

    Thanks for the great description of your wonderful experience. It came at the perfect time as I just signed up for the May TI Open Water Camp in Maho Bay. I’ve never done anything quite like this and I can’t wait. Your article confirms the best of what I’m hoping this experience will entail. Thanks!

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