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Totally Immersed

For the last 3 Saturdays, I’ve been attending Total Immersion classes at the Makati Shangrila pool. I must say that TI is a totally refreshing way of learning how to swim.

I had learned to swim via the brute force method of kicking-while-flailing-arms-and-struggling-to-breathe-while-gulping-water-and-half-drowning. One whole lap would take an eternity and doing another one didn’t seem quite a good idea. Along the way, I had tried to tweak my swim by going through the different swimming schools of thought: kick or not to kick, two-beat or four-beat,breathe on one side or alternate breathing, cartwheel stroke or s-stroke.

Of course part of the journey was getting the requisite swim equipment: paddles (even the oversized one), pullbouys, and kickboards. The result so far is a 28-min 1K swim, just about average, but something that can stand improvement.

It turns out that there is a better way to learn to swim as TI illustrates. TI emphasizes balance and relaxation on water, and using the core to propel oneself. TI actually discourages the use of pullbuoys and kickboards because this makes you out-of-balance in the water.

Going through the TI drills, I was so amazed to have traversed the length of the pool even without using the arms and without the usual breathing struggle! If I had gone through TI at the start, I surely would have spared myself those unpleasant moments at the pool.

The basic TI drill is the what they call skating or swimming on one’s side. The propulsion comes from swimming from one side to the other. Of course, this is hard to imagine just reading; you’ll have to see it here:


The basic TI course consists of 8 one-hour sessions. If you’re on a tight budget like me, you can actually also sign up initially for 4 sessions, then continue when you’re able.

Of course, I still have to see how much faster it can make my swim go. I haven’t really seen the results yet, but so far I’m hopeful it will.



5 thoughts on “Totally Immersed

  1. hi joma,

    glad you took up TI…have a confession though, i got myself paddles recently. TI discourages pullbuoys and kickboards lang di ba? hehehe.

    Posted by levyang | September 1, 2008, 4:38 pm
  2. hi levy, haha i think TI also somewhat discourages paddles, see this excerpt from the Total Immersion book:

    As with pull buoys, however, there is one small exception. Paddles are usually emphasized as a power tool (and the bigger the paddle, the better – or so the theory goes). You use the extra surface area to muscle the water. Unless you have a perfect stroke, muscling the water with paddles is mainly a a good way to improve your chances of shoulder injury. Instead you might occasionally don small paddles for a few superslow laps with narrow focus on how they may help your hand learn to pierce the water…or slide weightlessly forward a looong way…or anchor for the catch. Then remove them and, as suggested above for buoy use, try to recreate that sensation without the paddles. Unless you can subtract at least two strokes with the paddles on, they’re not helping you at alll.

    But then again, as with all the different schools of thought, whatever works should be ok 🙂

    Posted by groundhogdude | September 1, 2008, 5:04 pm
  3. hi joma,

    thanks very much for sharing this. naks, may libro pa a 🙂 Naku po, shoulder injury, kaya ako tumigil sa badminton….ayaw ko tumigil sa triathlon 😦 Hope to see you sa Animo!

    Posted by levyang | September 2, 2008, 9:38 am
  4. levs, may shoulder injury ka rin? haha parehas tayo

    Posted by marga | September 2, 2008, 12:59 pm
  5. Hi Joma,

    I started the TI as well and did two classes. I think it is the greatest thing after white bread. After two classes I also dont struggle so much in the pool anymore. I also went for the tri at Los Banos and used what I learned and boy it helped me a lot. I cant wait to see what will happen after eight lessons. I go on Wednesdays and Fridays. Maybe I will go one Saturday and then see you there. What times are they at Shangri La on Saturdays?

    Posted by Philip | September 30, 2008, 8:31 pm

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