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by Author Unknown

February 23, 2009

An inside look at Terry Laughlin's swim school

Terry Laughlin, a swim coach, swimmer and author, founded Total Immersion (TI), a U.S. Masters Swimming partner. TI is a comprehensive swimming company whose goal is to improve athletes and their swimming. Terry, an avid open water swimmer, believes and teaches that there are three equally important elements in understanding swimming and understanding how to teach swimming: (1) metabolic focus (physical workouts), (2) neurological focus (muscle memory) and (3) mental focus. TI and Terry believe in and teach mindful swimming. "You have to understand how to go fast before you can actually go fast," said Terry. "Humans, by nature, are inefficient in the water and it has been my goal to understand and teach others to work in coordination with the water and thus improve upon their efficiency," he explained and continued, "We are the opposite of a fish out of the water."

Terry founded TI in 1989 thus shifting from a "conventional" coaching position into a position with TI where he could impact swimmers across the country through workshops and clinics. This is when Terry began to see swimming in a different light. "I was impacted greatly by a friend, coach Bill Boomer, when he said, ‘it is the shape of the vessel not the size of the engine.' This opened my eyes," shared Terry. From 1989 to 1995 Terry used his workshops and clinics as a "laboratory for swimming experiments," he said. Terry studied how to create efficient body lines, how to assist swimmers to become more comfortable in the water, and how to encourage and teach fast swimming. In 1995 Terry collected his experience and understanding of the sport of swimming into his first book, which would eventually become the best selling swimming book in history. "By the time we were ready to write the book we had standardized the way we thought about swimming. Our book wasn't a textbook. It shared stories and experiences of real people... real swimming and people liked to read it," said Terry. The publisher did not advertise the first TI book, however word traveled quickly.

Terry, who claims that he was not a good swimmer as an age-grouper, believes that his swimming experience as a Masters swimmer has been of extreme value to him and his understanding of the sport. "We're getting older every day, but as our physical ability may be digressing, our ability to train ourselves mentally increases. As Masters swimmers we have to find alternative opportunities to improve our swimming," said Terry. Each of TI's publications, DVDs, and workshops is a stepping-stone to understanding the big picture of the TI philosophy. "It is an evolution, just like I know more as a 57 year old than I did as a 37 year old.

Total Immersion and its swimming and coaching philosophies are focused around four elements including balance, active streamlining, rhythmic weight shifts and traction. According to TI's mission statement, "Total Immersion aims to enrich as many lives as possible by improving the way swimming is taught and practiced, and to make the experience of swimming more accessible, enjoyable and satisfying for everybody."

Total Immersion provides three methods to teaching and training swimming: (1) self-coach (using books, DVDs, drill cards and e-books presented by Total Immersion), (2) workshops and (3) swim studio. TI also awards Total Immersion coaches certification so that athletes across the country can benefit from the TI philosophy and swimming instruction. TI is much more than drills or workouts, it is a philosophy and a school of thought.

TI is a U.S. Masters Swimming partner and a proud supporter of U.S. Masters swimmers. To learn more about TI and Terry Laughlin visit