This was week three of my “Total Immersion” swimming experiment. Given the sporadic pool time over the past week or so, I feel awkward calling it Total Immersion; more like Partial Immersion. Total, partial, whatever. Here’s the report so far.
I’ve made it through lesson 4 of 10. The lessons break swimming down into part tasks so you can master each piece before moving on to the next. The program gradually starts putting the pieces back together before you even realize it, employing what the founder refers to as “Muscle Amnesia.” Many athletes will be familiar with the term “Muscle Memory”, meaning your muscles start to remember the movement they are supposed to make. Unfortunately, they’ve often learned bad habits. TI breaks the swim stroke into parts so small that your muscles don’t recognize that you’re relearning how to swim, so you don’t revert to bad habits.
As corny as it may sound, I’ve seen over the past couple of days that it actually works. Moves that I’ve struggled with in “whole stroke” swimming are actually easier when accomplished as a bit task, and remain easy when put back together with the other parts; as long as you don’t accidentally recognize what you’re really doing and return to your crummy habits.
I finished lesson 4 today (for the second time). This is a “pivotal” lesson, in many ways. According to founder Terry Laughlin, most swimmers try to create more speed by generating power with their arms or through a stronger kick. TI teaches that power comes from the rotation of the core as a swimmer drives the arms forward in whole stroke. The change in rhythm required to master this skill took me two full pool sessions to achieve. Master may be too strong a word, but I did feel like I had it down by the end of the second session. I’m forcing myself not to try any whole stroke swimming until I’ve made it through the entire 10 lesson program, but I’m really tempted to give it a shot to see if there’s any improvement. Patience is a virtue, but I want it now!
I’m hoping this week will provide for more consistent pool time. Lesson 5 introduces a new approach to breathing which should be really interesting. If I can keep moving through two full lessons a week, I should be back to whole stroke swimming by the end of September. I’ll keep you posted.