Posted January 8, 2013 by Gareth Evans in Swimming

Total immersion swimming: A guide to efficient swimming

total immersion swimming from strensa
total immersion swimming from strensa

Whether you’re a complete beginner who was never taught how to swim efficiently as a child or a budding triathlete looking to shave some time off the swim leg of your next triathlon, Total Immersion swimming is one of the most effective techniques for learning to swim efficiently.

Founded by American swimming coach Terry Laughlin, Total Immersion swimming is a method of swimming instruction which aims to teach swimmers to move through the water in the most efficient manner possible.

While Total Immersion swimming is a concept that Terry Laughlin has been developing since the late 1980s, its effectiveness is now being widely recognised, thanks to appearances in mainstream media, such as Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Chef, as well as the viral You Tube video of Total Immersion Japan Director Shinji Takeuchi performing the technique.

See for yourself below how efficient the technique can make a swimmer…..

Today, we thought we would introduce you to the basic premise of Total Immersion swimming. In essence, the basics break down into three core principles, all of which are focused on reducing drag, vessel shaping and the promotion of full body swimming.

Principle one: Balance

The first, and most basic, principle in Total Immersion swimming is the concept of improving one’s balance. As a swimmer’s legs weigh more than their head and upper body, the technique focuses on a redistribution of weight, making the front end of the body heavier by leaning on one’s chest, and lowering the head, while swimming. With a swimmer’s air filled lungs acting like a fulcrum, adherence to the technique will see the swimmer’s hips rise to the surface, thus reducing the drag profile of the body.

Principle two: Streamlining

Once proper balance has been achieved in the water, the second step is to effectively streamline a swimmer’s body. The Total Immersion technique identifies two types of streamlining, passive and active, as a means of further reducing the drag profile of the body.

Static streamlining refers directly to the position in which one arm is extended forward during a stroke to create a leading point, with tapered body following this arm. While this is critical, swimmers must also take care to practice active streamlining, which refers to the maintenance of the streamlined body position while the body rotates from right-side streamline to left-side streamline.

While reducing drag, the effective adoption of both passive and active streamlining allows the swimmer to slip through the water with greater ease, thus improving the overall efficiency of the swimmer’s stroke.

Principle three: Propulsion

Rather than proposing the theory that more power equals greater speed, the Total Immersion swimming technique focuses on efficiency. In this sense, therefore, there is no emphasis on flailing your arms and kicking as quickly as you can. Instead, building on the advantages gleaned from a reduction of the swimmer’s drag profile, owing to improved balance and streamlining, the Total Immersion technique preaches a focus on coordinated spearing movements with a well-timed two-beat kick. The overall emphasis, therefore, is on full body integration and efficiency.

Dive in

It will certainly take a bit of practice to perfect, but adherence to the three basic tenets of Total Immersion swimming will certainly have you swimming more efficiently in no time.

We hope that this post has provided you with some inspiration and demystifies the science of swimming somewhat. The greatest facet of the Total Immersion swimming technique is that it proves conclusively that there is no such thing as a bad swimmer, only a poorly taught swimmer with inefficient technique. There is hope for us all.

If, after checking out this post and the video above of Shinji Takeuchi in action, you want to know more then we suggest that you head over to Total Immersion swimming website for more details.

Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans
A former professional rugby player in his youth, Gareth is now a bit of an all-round amateur when it comes to sport. He continues to play rugby for his local club, has studied Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Argentina, played Basketball in Peru, trekked in the Andes and the Himalayas, is a reluctant adventure racer, and is now studying KFM (Keysi Fighting Method). He has a passion for a whole host of sports, as well as travel, but feels truly at home on the rugby pitch or in the mountains.