What’s Your Swimming Goal
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on April 22nd, 2010

Lawrence posted this comment in the TI Discussion Forum

I wonder if this question might unearth some useful detail on how we all approach TI freestyle and things we’ve learned.

My objectives are:

1. to be able to swim in a relaxed manner indefinitely; and

2. once I have that, to be able to do something similar at higher speeds.

I have these aims in mind every minute I’m in the water. I test my swimming against them all the time.



Our objectives are very similar. I’ve actually spent very lengthy periods focused almost exclusively on relaxation – better “mojo.” These periods ranged from several weeks to many months and usually happened when I had no particular competitive goals at the moment. I always emerged from those periods with strikingly improved efficiency and self-awareness. When I prioritized the second goal, to maintain that relaxation and efficiency at higher speeds, I was better able to do so than previously.

So, at least for me, prolonged periods of leisurely, yet exacting, practice have done more for my speed than the more common practice of always going sort of semi-hard. Most competitive-oriented swimmers go at least semi-hard at some point in every workout, and some do it for most of every workout. That limits their potential.

Of course, the one absolutely-consistent goal of my swimming is to improve. In every practice, it’s my explicit goal to emerge from the water, after an hour or so, a better swimmer than I entered it.

7 Responses to “What’s Your Swimming Goal”

  1. Alan says:

    I’ll jump on that band wagon. And to date feel I’ve improved continuously, however incremental at times, without regression. Definitely Happy Laps!

  2. Poli says:

    Thank you, Terry, for all and every post you share with us.

    It may seem that nobody is there, but were sure are here learning from your experiencies.
    And even in the case that just a few of us readers are here, just be sure that your words are of great help and improvement for us.
    More in a mental way than in s fisical one.

    I would say a little bit about my own experience.
    I love swimming in the sea. The area where I live, Southwest of the Mediterranean (Spain) is great for the lack of tides, waves ans good temperatures. Just the plagues of jellyfish make swimming a little difficult sometimes.
    During the last summers (May to October if we are lucky) I encrease the length of my immersions and the ease at competing them. I love being far from the seashore, in the middle of nowhere. It gives me a point of anxiety mixed with confidence. It is an increadible feeling when I get when I return to the coast and look at what I have accomplished.

    Just as I gained that confidence and ability I got injured in my back by bad-practicing other sports (love running, cycling, lifting weights, playing basketball, cycling…). I have a herniated disk that makes my life unbearable since the moment I set a foot out of bed. Stress at work was of no help. That was like 1+1/2 year ago. By the same time I read the book Total Immersion.

    Because of that I felt my mood changed. I was nervous and sometimes did not get along well with people.

    Regarding swimming, it was imposible for me to do it in a slow, pleasant way. Every practice in the pool or in the sea is a pain process until that area of my body is prepared, which sometimes gives me a short time before leaving for work of for class.

    Today, for the first time since trying, I was able to swim in a relaxed way. Especially regarding croll, as stroke and back styles are much easier to be done with no hurry (at least for me) and no pain. Doing stroke was my goal, as it makes me have pain in a very deep way and it takes the best of me to get relaxed, with soft arms and shoulders entering the water and my low back just supporting the body, but not trying to suport the whole building.
    I was following every comment you posted lately, especially on this post and on that about “lying” in water for a short while, before starting swimming, just feeling our body and how we were going to swim that day.

    It was of grat help.

    Thank you.

  3. Poli Thank you for sharing your uplifting account of improving your swimming, as well as your mental and physical health. That is truly the meaning of Swimming Well.

  4. Dan says:

    Is there a stoke motion that promotes shoulder injury? If so what motion must I avoid and what motion, after catch should I try to achieve?

    Over the past few months I’ve developed mainly right upper arm-shoulder area aches and weakness to the point of severe pain when attemting to throw a tennis ball with no force. Not sure, but feel this started when I began to swim two 25m lengths in my pool each morning. These are easy laps, concentrating on form, balance and breathing as taught me in the TI class – plus waking up. I get a slight ache during the strokes, more on the right. I feel more balanced when breathing on the left but do breathe at least a third of the time on the right. This is not a lot of swimming but is consistent.

    I’ve experimented with different arm positions and motions in an attempt to catch more water but have not reached any conclusions. I tried bending the forearm perpindicular to body and pulling (really anchoring) straight back. That seem to put more torgue on the shoulder than when digging deeper to anchor.


  5. Julie Brisendine says:

    Since I read your book a year ago, when I’m swimming freestyle, I am always drilling, either swimming downhill, stretching for the wall, looking down(hard one to change in a sprint-I’m 56 years old), etc. My goal is to place third at masters nationals in breaststroke and I’m always in search of sprint training advice, so the idea of relaxing the entire workout is a new thought. I try to always push breaststroke so it’s natural to swim it faster, but do lots of warmup with the drill of three second glide. Thanks for being there!

  6. Julie – If you want to place well in shorter events at Masters Nationals, I suggest you read John Ashley’s comment and my reply on the blog “Do you swim easily enough?”

  7. Dan – To avoid the shoulder pain, I suggest you practice some more SwingSwitch drills (Lesson 4 of Easy Freestyle DVD) and mix those drills with some whole-stroke repeats on which you focus on the Mail Slot entry technique (demonstrated in Lesson 5). The most common cause of shoulder pain is an over-reaching extension and entry, followed by too much pressure on the extended arm immediately after entry.

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