The Way Of TI

Here is an explanation that might clear some misunderstanding about TI Coaching in comparison to other swim instruction methods:

For sure, Total Immersion swimming, through our coaching, books and videos, swim camps and workshops teaches a distinct kind of stroke that is economical, injury-free, and effective for greater speed and distance. Among TI Coaches this service we provide is known as “Developing the Stroke”. We do a great job of this as evidenced by the tens of thousands of people around the world who come to us for help. However, the stroke itself is simply a reflection of the good physics and physiology found in the strokes of the smoothest elite swimmers. TI simply makes these sound and proven skills accessible to the everyday swimmer like you and me.

However, what is remarkable about TI is HOW we go about teaching these skills, and how we master them.

In step one, a swimmer may come to a TI workshop or to a TI Coach and receive some corrections for her stroke. She will certainly experience improvement and swim more easily (while just as fast or faster) than before. In this setting a TI Coach will ‘develop the stroke’ of the swimmer.

But TI Coaches offer something more, something greater than this: we teach a unique PRACTICE of swimming. It is this unique TI Practice that magnifies the advantages of the TI stroke and leads the swimmer into a whole new plane of potential. Among TI Coaches we call this ‘Developing the Swimmer.’

A swimmer can come to us and receive some ‘fixes’ for his stroke, but the greater treasures will be found in how we practice our swimming, which is a reflection of how we teach TI swimming. Although so many people are attracted to TI by watching examples of our smooth swimming on Youtube, no video can convey the Practice that goes behind our ability to swim this way.

Inevtiably, in every workshop I teach, in every private lesson I give, I am introducing my student to this Practice, because it is the secret by which you can learn to swim like me, or better, like the TI stroke-model Shinji Takeuchi. The drills we teach will lead you onto the path of improvement, but the path itself is a total Practice.

We who absorb ourselves in TI for years eagerly stay on this path because we love The Practice. We love The Practice because it is immediately and effectively rewarding and life-enhancing, with long-term benefits to health.

The word ‘-do’ (pronounced ‘doh’) used in the names of some martial arts, such as aiki-do, means “The Way of…”. In the case of aiki-do, the name means “the Way of harmonizing with the spirit of the universe” according to the late aiki-do master George Leonard, author of Mastery, and The Way of Aikido. In TI I might describe what we practice as “the way of harmonizing the body, the mind, (the soul even) with the water and the forces of nature to achieve optimal experience and performance.” I think it is something along these lines that inspired our Head Coach, Terry Laughlin to make the latest motto of TI, “Swimming that changes your life.”


Certainly, you can go to a tennis coach for an hour or two to get some tips on how to improve your swing and your game. You can also come to a TI coach for a couple hours and get similar ideas to improve your swim.

But you cannot go to a martial arts sensei for an hour or two and expect him to teach you how to effectively defend yourself or neutralize attackers. It is generally understood that martials artists train hours upon hours, years upon years, to acheive an enhanced state of awareness, control, and reflex to respond confidently and effectively to a wide range of un-predictably forces coming against them.  Senseis teach something far more important than ‘special moves’, they teach a whole way of thinking, being, moving that affect not only the way of fighting or defending, but the way of living. They teach their martial arts’ version of “The Way”. To gain the full benefit of The Way of a particular martial art the student needs to become absorbed completely into the practice of it.

This in essence is what TI offers for those who want to move beyond a mere ‘fix’ for their stroke. If you come to TI for that fix, you will get it and experience encouraging improvement. If you come to TI and embrace The Way of TI, you will get total transformation of your swimming experience and your swimming capabilities.

This is what deep-practice TI Coaches offer those who come to us to ask for more.

I would like to think that you could go to any TI coach, anywhere in the world and get a competent taste of what I am describing here. But I want to be fair- in any martial arts, as well as in TI there is a wide range of coaching skill and practice. Swimmers and coaches use TI in all sorts of ways, and for a variety of swimming goals. This can create some examples of less-than-effective TI coaching, which is a disappointment, but it is also the way in which TI is tested and discovers ways to improve what we do. The risk and the benefit of this freedom in coaching, and the voluntary pursuit of quality, go hand-in-hand. So with anything, be discerning in who you go to, and use some critical thinking about what you observe in the skills of the coach you work with.

I know many TI Coaches around the world who embody The Way of TI. It is my main objective in the TI Coach training that I do to I inspire and encourage every TI Coach to be a deep-practitioner of TI. It is by this method of practice that we are able to acheive our superior results as coaches. The more dedicated the coach is to practicing The Way, the more effective they tend to be in helping others experience transformation. No video, books, nor seminar, not even years of standing on the deck directing swimmers in the water will create the deep and intimate knowledge of the body, mind, water and forces of nature that we work with to achieve optimal states of experience and performance.

For those investigating TI for the first ime I invite you therefore to consider embarking on The Way of TI for best results.

For all of us coaches who use TI in our teaching, may we stay in the water as much as we can, and stay deeply connected to The Way. It is the best way to improve our coaching and the best way to serve our students. We will communicate far more effectively by our example than we will by our words.


One response to “The Way Of TI

  1. Pingback: Success Through Failure « Smooth Strokes·

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