I normally don’t swim two days in a row, but I’m determined to master the drills associated with the Total Immersion method. To that end, I hit the pool again today to reinforce what I hope I learned yesterday. At least today I made it all the way through the five drills in lesson one.
The first few drills deal primarily with finding balance in the water, and I was surprised to not feel my legs sinking, even without kicking. I often fight the sensation of sinking legs, which can lead to much thrashing in a vain attempt to stay afloat. Balance is a key element in the TI method, and the drills are as much about mental connection as mechanics. I develop training material for a living, and one of the most successful methods I’ve found to teaching anything is to break it down into the simplest components, teach them one at a time, and then combine the parts… part task training. TI follows this approach, which seemed nearly impossible to do in the water. How can you focus only on kicking and not worry about breathing? By practicing only in short segments so you don’t need to breath or do anything else. That allows you to focus on how the action feels when you do it right. As soon as you feel it start to fall apart, or you get distracted, you stop for a breath and start again. Surprisingly, it works well.
As I said, I made it through all five drills that comprise the first lesson… a marked improvement over yesterday. The balance drills went well, and the flutter drills were no problem. I’ll definitely by repeating the “whole stroke” drills tomorrow, though. As soon as I started incorporating the whole stroke, I could feel myself twist out of alignment. Thrashing. The amazing part, though, is that I could feel it. The first few drills were so effective at helping me feel what balance should feel like that I recognized it as soon as I lost it. That was a victory in itself.
I’m always a bit leery of the “miracle cure” for anything, but the difference in feel with this focus on balance and streamlining is pretty dramatic. I’ll try to get into the pool each day this week and see if I can master lesson one. The literature says expect to spend at least 2 hours in the pool on every one of the 10 lessons. My pool sessions tend to be about 30-40 minutes over lunch, so each lesson will be a 3-4 day experience. That’s okay, I’m in no hurry. Right is better than fast. And better is always better.