One Advantage of Human Swimmers over Dolphins
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on September 21st, 2010

The title of an article in today’s NY Times Studying the Big-Brained Dolphin caught my eye because it  joined two of my keen interests  – dolphins as models for how humans might swim, and tapping the unrealized potential of the human brain to swim more like dolphins, less like dogs.

The article delivered a bit less than I’d hoped. As mammals, and therefore very distant cousins to humans, dolphins do have bigger brains that any member of the fish family, but the example in the article – scientists believe dolphins can recognize . . . and appear to show interest in studying . . . themselves in mirrors — was a bit underwhelming.

But it reminded me of the ‘mindblowing’ advantage we do enjoy over dolphins when we join them in their environment — our amazing capacity to adapt a terrestrially-evolved body to an aquatic environment by using the equally amazing capacity of our brains to solve problems.

When we approach swimming as a problem-solving — rather than purely physical endurance – activity . . . and use our brain to try to swim less like a human . . . we are most human.

Learn to be more fully human while swimming more like a dolphin at the special 5-Day Intensive course in Perpetual Motion Freestyle Oct 18-22 in San Diego.

Or teach yourself with the 10 Lessons in the Self Coached Workshop.

9 Responses to “One Advantage of Human Swimmers over Dolphins”

  1. James says:

    When we approach swimming with a mind for problem-solving rather than a mind for exhausting the muscles, we become better swimmers, but something even more important happens: we enjoy swimming on much deeper levels.

    Study the T.I. Book ! And then read it again !

  2. Morten says:

    Hmm, almost a bi5r depressed right know, for a hole year now, i have been practising twice a week, almost no improvement…

    I dont know what im doing wrong, maybe many things, i cant figure it out….

    I will try again, but its not good for my motivation… he 🙂

    Any tips??

    Best regards

  3. Morten
    I’m glad to hear you’ve practiced faithfully twice a week for nearly a year. I imagine that means somewhere around 90 practices thus far. When you practice correctly, you should experience gradual improvement — and gain a sense of having learned something useful in virtually every hour. There’s often a fairly simple explanation for lack of improvement. Your brief message gives no particulars. I suggest you post a more specific and detailed query on the TI Discussion Forum, which is better suited for that kind of community support.

  4. Morten says:

    Thanks for feedback Terry!

    I just have to try a bit harder, looking for “TI solulmates near by Oslo i Norway, ha<vent found any yet – guess its aroaund somewhere… 🙂

    Thanks again Terry.

    Best regards.


  5. Morten The Forum has a conference specifically for “Find a TI Training Buddy.” People all over the world have posted there to connect with others in their area.

  6. Andy says:

    Hi Terry

    I actually swam with dolphins this week in Notojima, Japan.

    But I want to thank you for introducing this technique for efficient swimming. I always used to focus on perfecting my breast stroke with a gliding motion but struggled with front crawl. Now I am getting better at efficient freestyle and look forward to studying your methods more.

    My goal is to swim continuously in the front crawl and not get exhausted. But I want it to be a workout too and not too relaxed.

  7. Balaji says:

    Learning is non-linear. That is, you may not see improvement “linearly proportional” to the time you spend learning a new activity. You might spend a lot of time without noticing apparent improvement. Your body and brain may just be quietly soaking it up. One day it all comes together and you will have an “aha” moment. Keep at it.


  8. In George Leonard’s invaluable book “Mastery” he calls this Learning to Love the Plateau. As he explained, when you practice correctly, there should be change in every single hour of practice. But, especially when working on something advanced, that change may be too subtle to be perceived. As Leonard says, you may have change at the cellular level for months. At the level of perception it may seem nothing is happening. But then in one seemingly-magical day, all that cellular-level change consolidates in a thrilling leap forward.

    We live for the leap, but must practice lovingly to produce it, even when it seems there is no change occurring.

  9. Andy – As you gain in efficiency, you will then be able to practice in more ambitious and challenging ways, that are more metabolically demanding . . . while still remaining efficient.
    There’s your workout.

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