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freestyle: made easy

by Terry Laughlin

A Total Immersion Instructional Manual
Copyright © 2006 Total Immersion. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Total Immersion, Inc. For information, contact Total Immersion, Inc., 246 Main Street, Suite 15A, New Paltz, NY 12561. Revised: December 16, 2003 Total Immersion, Inc.

Congratulations on purchasing Freestyle Made Easy. We are more excited about FME than any DVD we’ve produced previously because it addresses every question or challenge raised by our students over the years. While the DVD is self-explanatory, this user’s guide includes detailed tips for mastering each drill and should prove invaluable as a continued guide on the path to mastery of the TI process. For the most complete guide to swimming freestyle for any distance and in any body of water, we strongly recommend our book Triathlon Swimming Made Easy, available from or 800-609-7946.

The most exciting insight of our experiences in teaching thousands of improvementminded swimmers has been that virtually anyone can learn to swim beautifully through intelligent and patient practice. The key to foolproof learning is in mastering three non-negotiable skills: Step 1 Increase your comfort and stop wasting energy on fighting the water by learning balance. When you master balance, you’ll also learn every other swimming skill much faster. Step 2 Learn to pierce the water. By slipping through the smallest possible “hole” in the water, you’ll need far less power, and expend far less effort at any speed. Step 3 Learn to stroke smoothly. The “Human Swimmer’s” arm-and-leg churning habit wastes huge amounts of energy on creating turbulence. Learning to propel with fluent, whole-body stroking movements provides effortless power and maximizes economy of movement.

Whether teaching our students face to face or via video, we follow a process inspired by the mindful practice of yoga and tai chi. We begin by teaching a series of balance positions that are exceedingly simple, yet establish a profound connection with the water. By patiently mastering the basics, you’ll be prepared to advance through a whole range of more challenging skills with ease and speed. Next we teach a thoughtfully choreographed sequence (Switch drills) that leads to graceful, fluent swimming. Success at each step leads seamlessly to the next step. The synergy produced by mastering these simple moves in a logical progression is so powerful that even after the first few drills, you should feel yourself flowing through the water with more ease and less struggle than you ever thought possible.


S. and to imprint the slippery positions that will let them move through the water with ease. Army and a trained TI Coach.S. becoming one of the best sprinters in the U.ABOUT OUR SWIMMING MODELS After teaching thousands of improvement-minded swimmers. practice makes permanent. Every length you swim contributes to a habit of either fluency or struggle and muscle memory makes your old stroke resistant to change. Here are the ways in which TI drills perfect your stroke better than anything else you can do in the pool: Your muscles need a dose of amnesia.” drills give you a “blank slate” on which to engrave change. Suzie Baggs is a former collegiate swimmer who had been introduced to TI drills in her Masters program only a few months before this video was made. Terry Laughlin has been swimming since 1966 and is still improving his efficiency and fluency 37 years later.” in truth. Beginners find our drills the fastest way to establish harmony and balance in the water. Mark Wilson and Ian Murray are all triathletes who began swimming as adults. Fiona Laughlin was a college swimmer and is now a TI Teaching Professional. For this video we have chosen swimmers from a range of ages and abilities to show you how universally our drills can be learned and applied. through stroke drills. EFFECTIVE PRACTICE: HOW TO MAKE A FISHLIKE STROKE PERMANENT While the old saying tells us that “practice makes perfect. your inefficiencies have become a deeply ingrained habit. Military Academy. skill or fitness.S. This allows for dramatic improvement that is nearly immediate…and will become permanent through practice. 3 . We hope you gain some insight and inspiration from each of the swimmers on our tape by observing the individual ways they express fluency and realize that your own expression of TI Swimming doesn’t have to meet a rigid ideal. The fastest way to become a more efficient swimmer and make that efficiency permanent is by learning a new way of swimming from the bottom up. Because your nervous system doesn’t interpret them as “swimming. we know that TI works for anyone. Every lap simply reinforces your energy-wasting old style. He is an officer in the U. experience. are reluctant to spend precious pool time on stroke drills. rather than piecemeal stroke corrections. Advanced swimmers find them the best way to polish their technique and increase efficiency. But because your endurance and speed are determined far more by efficiency than fitness. If you’ve been swimming for any length of time. Kathryn Loyer. five of our nine demonstrators only began swimming as adults. Kathryn and Ian are now TI Teaching Professionals. regardless of age. an hour of concentrated skill practice can often produce more improvement than a month of hard training. Joe Novak swam for Terry Laughlin at the U. fearing a loss of fitness. WHY DRILLS TEACH BETTER THAN ANYTHING ELSE Some swimmers. In fact. Tobey DeMott and Jennifer Armstrong are novices who were introduced to Total Immersion only three months before this video was made.

Small pieces are easier to swallow. flow. Because mini-skills can be mastered so quickly and easily. and grace. each of which can be quickly mastered and becomes the key to solving the next. the more you should shift your attention from the mechanics to the qualities of economy. a bit more precise and economical. and adjustment – and sets of 10 to 15 minutes duration. Every lap of swimming the old way is likely to pull you backward. reflection. it’s virtually impossible to focus on the whole at once. your swimming will be transformed as well. they make it easier to fine-tune your form after you begin practicing whole-stroke again. each time you go to the pool. you begin practicing graceful. And the less time you spend swimming with your old habits. Repeats of 25 to 50 yards – with 3 to 5 “yoga breaths” between each for rest. They simplify and accelerate the learning process by teaching your body how it should feel when you swim well. Conventional stroke instruction tries to get to your muscles through your mind. 4 . Study our images carefully. review just the drills you intend to practice. And because drills heighten your kinesthetic awareness. Drills teach you what you’re hoping to learn only if you do them correctly. Practice with feeling. thoughtful minutes on each new drill to firmly imprint the new sense into your muscle memory so that you can eventually be guided more by feel than thought. then. or go back to the previous drill and polish that one before returning to the drill that’s giving you trouble. experiment with subtle refinements until the skill begins to feel natural and effortless. Shorter is sweeter. using slow motion and stop action. it’s trial and success. fishlike movement right away. These building blocks assemble easily and gradually into a new. check the video again (or have a friend watch as you practice). Each successive length should feel a bit smoother and more relaxed. then try to figure out what the movement will feel like. It’s language the body understands. As these qualities become habit in your drilling. the more it becomes your new habit and crowds out the sloppy old one. Spend 30 uninterrupted. The more you practice it. Every lap of drilling is positive reinforcement for your swimming. while wondering if you got it right. Do every length with clear understanding and purpose. Your string of successes boosts your motivation and self-confidence and you learn faster. Instead of trial and error. Though every swimmer is different. will bring the greatest benefit. First you read or hear a description of a skill. The TI drills will work fastest if you: Think before you swim. the more you should drill. Then. before each practice. The more familiar you become with the drills. never carelessly or in a hurry. more efficient stroke. If not. HOW TO MASTER THE LEARNING CURVE How should you use this video? The more you have to learn. ease. drills work for most with incredible speed. For novices this can mean up to four times as much drilling as swimming. You might initially watch the entire video straight through to understand the whole progression. Drills bypass all those vague translations. Because your stroke is made up of so many finely coordinated parts. Stroke drills simplify the complex whole stroke into a series of mini-skills. the faster you learn to swim better.

When you can “swim as well as you drill. you won’t have to learn new drills. following guidance from our coaches. who learns the correct position for that drill with help from the coach. swimmers take turns in two roles: The swimmer. Each group gets exactly what it needs: The inexperienced swimmers learn basic skills. they’ll work better in reinforcing the lessons. The more advanced swimmers acquire subtle polish. alternate drill and swim lengths – at first more drilling than swimming. and encourage you to focus more on movement quality. In Buddy System learning. While many swimmers will be able to successfully master all the steps in solo practice. (Also see below on how practice with a partner can overcome a poor kick. you could tire quickly and find your drill practice compromised. After you’ve practiced a drill long enough to make it second nature (for advanced drills this could take weeks). And following the workshop. who positions and supports the swimmer’s head. The coach. Keep practicing! The best aspect of drills is that they’re self-adjusting. probably because they were also teaching as they learned. once you already drill well. If your kick is non-propulsive (usually from rigid ankles).” you know the lessons have been learned. which are integral to each drill. During the momentary pauses in Sweet Spot. everyone learned faster. The main benefit of the drills is that they give you heightened insight into how to make your swimming feel more efficient. By having our students partner and teach balance to each other. But take time to master the basics of the drill before putting on the gloves. Just keep your kick very relaxed if you do wear fins. we do encourage you strongly to collaborate with a learning partner as illustrated on the video.Swim as well as you drill. But more accomplished swimmers benefited as well.) Fistgloves move you to a much higher level of awareness for what the drill is supposed to teach. we made an exciting discovery in our workshops. Try to make each swim length feel a bit more like what felt best about the drill. quite a few of our alumni told us of exciting successes in teaching friends and family members to swim better. then releases and continues observing the swimmer to assist as needed. and assists with momentum by towing or launching. We’ve found at TI workshops that Slim Fins and the Fistglove® stroke trainer can be valuable learning aids. Fins can “buy you time” to pay better attention to fine points. The Buddy System had the greatest impact on students who struggled with their kick or tended to sink. Having a partner who understands the TI method as well as you do will be the next best thing to having your own TI coach. We teach the same drills to unskilled adults as to highly accomplished swimmers. in every instance with exciting results. if you have the opportunity. Use the right tools. Over time. 5 . So as you improve. THE TI BUDDY SYSTEM Recently. we’ve applied the Buddy System to virtually every stage in the learning process. you’ll need a moderately propulsive kick to maintain momentum and stay smooth. but shifting gradually toward more swimming. you’ll simply do the same ones with more refinement.

Vertical kicking is also effective in making the kick gentler and more compact. then released.” This minimizes disruptions to the swimmer’s concentration. resume towing for a moment. (3) We aren’t yet tuned in to sensations that we must learn to recognize over time in the water – for example: Is our head aligned? Is the lead hand as deep as it should be? Are our shoulders stacked? (4) Using the Buddy System. we’re all in this together attitude. For example. and how little effort it takes to maintain it. in the water we hang from it. ASSISTING “SINKERS” AND POOR KICKERS If your partner struggles with balance. When decent kickers are towed. as needed. before you do it. it’s sometimes helpful to tell your swimmer exactly what you are going to do. the most effective response to a loss of momentum is to find ways to reduce drag – including drag from a big splashy kick. When this happens. because it’s far easier to conserve momentum. then watch to see how long they maintain it. Their instinctive reaction to sinking or loss of momentum is to kick harder. But poor kickers lose headway quickly. Towing allows them to master balance and ease without worrying about sinking or loss of momentum. The added momentum is also invaluable in preparing them learn to drill solo. (2) We are not accustomed to actively controlling torso muscles to stay horizontally balanced. they can maintain momentum on their own. if you have any doubts about your qualifications to “coach” your partner. Minor misalignment of the head will be multiplied by a factor of 5 or 10 in the legs. 6 . On land we stand on our balance. and (8) Can focus on what good balance position feels like. than to regain it when you’ve lost it. Pay particular attention to head position and alignment. simply report to your partner exactly what you observe. which just increases turbulence and fatigue. Finally.ADVANTAGES OF THE BUDDY SYSTEM Learning to control our bodies in a horizontal position in the water presents some unique challenges: (1) We lack visual feedback on our own position. “I’m going to support your feet now.” or “I’m going to move your arms closer to your sides. and helps to keep the swimmer relaxed. Repetition – and the fact that they are traveling through the water – seems to help poor kickers acquire better kinesthetic awareness. (6) Learn better by helping and observing others solve the same problems. your assistance can be invaluable. and see your partner learn to maintain momentum for longer stretches. In addition. students: (5) Experience perfect balance without struggling to achieve it. (7) Develop a cooperative. Gradually. When playing a coaching role. Repeat several times. you should be able to tow less frequently and more briefly.

use these focal points: HIDE YOUR HEAD (keep your head neutral with water touching the corners of your goggles) KICK WITH A COMPACT. Thus your first step is to get the water to support you without help from your arms.” Only when you learn to balance effortlessly without your arms helping. every stroke you’ve ever taken has been a frustrating struggle. In watching underwater video of thousands of “human swimmers.lightly flicking your toes toward the surface ARMS PRESSED LIGHTLY TO YOUR SIDES (no sculling or bracing) On each successive repeat aim to travel more quietly and with less effort. that experienced swimmers may be tempted to quickly move on to more “challenging” stuff. During solo practice. Imprint this head position here and maintain it in Sweet Spot in every drill that follows. begin towing from the shoulders to provide some momentum. If you feel yourself losing balance. just stand up. They may think what they’re doing is “stroking” but virtually none of their energy is producing propulsion. Every drill demonstrator shows the same head position. then position the head. Lesson One can give you an unprecedented feeling of being fully supported by the water without tension or discomfort. on the other hand. at first. But if you have human DNA – even if you’ve already swum in the Olympics – you can still improve your balance. Your momentum will aid as towing did. you’ll immediately swim with far more ease. will it be possible to drill or stroke efficiently. Once you have that. and the rest of the lessons will go much more smoothly. If coaching a partner. DRILL #1: BALANCE ON YOUR BACK (BB) The most important lesson of this drill is head position. After release.” what I notice first is how their arms and legs are almost completely occupied with trying not to sink. and as it improves you’ll use less energy at any speed. breathe deeply to relax and resume with a push from the bottom. once they’re moving well enough not to sink. keep moving ahead of your partner. SILENT FLUTTER . most of it goes into fighting “that sinking feeling. If. so your draft helps them maintain momentum without effort. Notice the water touching the corners of Jennifer’s goggles and the tip of her chin in the first closeup. 7 . Your main goal is to replicate the sensation you felt while being towed.LESSON ONE: BALANCE These drills may seem so simple.

(2) Swimmers trying LVSS for the first time sometimes sense a loss of balance usually because they’ve rotated farther after extending the arm. your Sweet Spot will probably be almost on your back. In the Active Balance segment (in the Endless Pool). LVSS is also the fundamental backstroke balance position. DRILL #3: LENGTHEN YOUR “VESSEL” (LVSS) LVSS teaches you that longer vessels move faster with less effort. Help for weak kickers The most important thing to notice on the video is how Jennifer kicks by just flicking her toes gently toward the surface. while being towed by Tobey. before releasing him. notice how Terry doesn’t use his hands to help with rotation. but it might be useful to experiment with a palm-out position. This is the “home position” for all TI freestyle drills. while he assists her in rotating. and a good position in which to practice flutter kick. notice how Susie’s right (bottom) arm is motionless at her side. notice how Tobey keeps Jen’s head stable as she rotates to SS. try to tune into what allows you to feel more comfortable on the other side and try to make both sides the same. If you feel a bit less comfortable on one side. then extend the arm weightlessly without changing your body position (3) Keep your extended hand in the position in which you feel the least strain. 8 . then helps her extend her arm to the correct position. Though her kick produces little momentum. notice how Joe keeps Susie’s head stable. sleek and relaxed. When practicing solo. then rotate very slightly to reach SS. regain your balance. Susie for Joe. She learned to keep her kick compact. If you’re lean or densely muscled. she doesn’t try to compensate by kicking harder. On the video. will help you improve your feel for kicking with a long leg and no knee flexion. return your arm to your side. your focal points should include: (1) Try to feel as much as possible as you did while being towed – long. (2) Start each width with head hidden in BB. On the video. which can help prepare you for skating.DRILL #2: “SWEET SPOT” (SS) The “Sweet Spot” is where you’ll find true equilibrium and balance and is influenced by body type. If you feel a loss of balance. And vertical kicking while resting at the deep end of the pool. Water should touch the corners of both goggles at all times. which would only churn up the water more and make her tired. When practicing solo. Likewise. Finding Sweet Spot is critical because you’ll start and finish every drill here. In the underwater view. Keep your head hidden – with water at the corners of your goggles – and lay back on your lower shoulder until your hips and legs feel light. focus on the following: (1) Try to feel as much as possible like you did while being towed. (4) Focus on slipping through the water as cleanly and quietly as possible. (3) Keep your head as still and stable as possible.

start in Fish (as Susie and Jennifer do). If you don’t feel easily balanced there. (3) Try to follow a “laser line” down the pool as you rotate back and forth between nose-up and nose-down positions. kicking gently and slipping through the smallest “hole” in the water. If doing Buddy System. focus on all of the following points: (1) Continually check that your nose is straight down. (Note how Tobey prompts Jen on this. you can see Terry doing this for Fiona. with your head also remaining right on the spineline as it rotates. Give particular attention to your head position – leading with the top of your head and looking directly down. And you see Jennifer starting Tobey from the head. it’s probably best to start by towing from the head as Jen does for Tobey – and note how firmly Jen positions Tobey’s head directly on the spine line. with the least water disturbance. (3) Feel as if you’re following a laser line as you rotate between nose up and nose down positions. On the video. extend your hand just below your head. When practicing solo. This may be a 4:00 or 5 o’clock position. In the Endless Pool segments. (4) Slip through the smallest possible “hole” in the water.DRILL #4: FISH DRILL Fish will help you learn to balance directly on your side in the nose-down position (the only time you’ll be balanced on your side is when you are nose down). 9 . (2) To breathe. Also flex your wrist – fingertips downward – by 30 to 45 degrees – your partner should manually assist with this. (2) Also memorize the side balance position and lean just a bit on your lower shoulder to keep your hips and legs feeling light. until your hips and legs feel supported. It’s also the easiest way to learn to keep your head directly in line with your spine – as it will be in Skating. The first time you do Skating. all Switch drills and swimming. while in the nose-down position. Take 3 deep. just keep angling your hand/arm deeper. When practicing solo. keep your arm extended. you’ll see both Joe and Tobey launching their swimmers from the feet. roll all the way back to LVSS. This is the “3 o’clock” position. then extend your hand. focus on these points: (1) Try to feel as much as possible like you did while being assisted. slow breaths before you return to the Skating Position. but let it float back up near the surface. DRILL #5 SKATING (SK) In Skating you’ll experience balance for the first time in the position you’ll use swimming freestyle. It typically takes a LOT of repetition to get these “clock” positions correct. shoulder straight up and extended hand below your head. Also notice how Jennifer bubbles lightly from her nose.) If you achieved virtually effortless balance in earlier drills.

DRILL #7: UNDERSWITCH (US) This is the first drill to tap the power of the kinetic chain by teaching you how to link an armstroke to core-body rotation for effortless propulsion. look down more and angle your hand deeper. laser-like rotation between nose up and nose down positions. (5) Practice on both sides until it’s second nature to stay balanced on your side when your hand is under your nose.” (4) When you see your hand. Focus on these points as you practice: (1) Before you begin the UnderSkate recovery. The underwater. (3) Use this mantra for bringing your hand forward: “Wipe your belly and see your hand. slo-and-stop view of Joe will give you the clearest sense of how this drill teaches you the FQ timing and links your propelling armstroke to body roll. adding all the power of body rotation to his stroke. give attention to these focal points one at a time. The overhead view of Terry in the Endless Pool is the best way to see the clean. If he were to stroke his left hand at that precise moment. DRILL #6: UNDERSKATE (USK) USk teaches the essential skill of staying on your side during recovery – saving all the energy of body rotation to be released at the moment the anchored hand begins stroking. If you find yourself still underwater after the Switch – like Ian – try switching with a bit more snap. See this most clearly in the stop-action underwater view of Joe. It also simplifies the learning process for swimming “taller” with the front-quadrant (FQ) stroke timing that keeps your bodyline long. These will be the most dynamic and powerful movements you have yet practiced. check that your head and hand are in the same position you established in Skating. Also notice that Joe’s left hand is in the “clock position” he established in Skating. Focus on doing one thing really well each length: 10 . check that your shoulders are still stacked.LESSON TWO: UNDERSWITCH EFFORTLESS POWER FROM YOUR CORE The UnderSwitch drills will teach you how to use rotation of your balanced and slippery core body to generate effortless power for propulsion. (2) If you don’t feel completely supported by the water. After you’ve mastered the basic movement. it would be perfectly synchronized to the action of his right hip driving down. It does this by giving you a visual cue for when to make the switch.

In watching the video pay particular attention to the overhead view of Terry in the Endless Pool. Notice that there’s no pause before the second switch in each cycle. DRILL #8: DOUBLE UNDERSWITCH (US2) Single-Switch drills teach core-body propulsion and precision stroke timing.(1) Don’t begin sneaking your hand until you check head hidden. than a swimming stroke. 11 . (2) Keep your timing consistent. Each swimmer on the video will contribute something to your complete understanding of how to do US3 well. but the single sweeping movement is more like a golf swing. resuming it gently after you return to Sweet Spot. Switch at the exact moment you see your hand under your nose.” (3) Switch through the smallest possible “hole” in the water and drill silently. to increase rhythm. (2) Switch when you see your hand and switch too far. DRILL #9: TRIPLE UNDERSWITCH (US3) US3 will give you even more space to make yourself more Fishlike and learn the feel of a swimming rhythm. with time to regroup. Multiple switches bring swimming rhythms to those movements. hand in “clock” position. then picks it up again when she’s nose-up in LVSS. One of the key points for triathletes and long distance swimmers is how Susie pauses her kick during the three switches. Water should flow over the back of your head during all three switches. (4) STAY SLIPPERY. You can improve your rhythm with two adjustments: (1) Reduce rotation. and see if you can pause your kick while switching. (i. shoulders stacked. Rotate to less than 90 degrees during multi-switches. (3) Slice your extending hand DEEP to your clock position. The stroke-back-and-return-forward should be one uninterrupted – but unhurried – movement. Your shoulders do not reach a vertical position. Roll your body a bit less during the three switches. then tip your fingers down and feel firm water pressure on your hand and forearm before you switch. and angle your fingers down. your head just goes along for the ride. particularly while sneaking your arm and switching (5) Finally reduce the glide between switches. (4) Try to pause your kick for a moment as you switch…Pick it up again in LVSS. Key focal points for US2 and US3 practice include: (1) Keep your head hidden and still. evaluate your practice.e. Finish the stroke and immediately begin recovery. and make fine adjustments between cycles in LVSS.) (2) Keep your stroking hand moving. Think of it this way: “Take your bellybutton to the air.

On the video. (4) Joe’s hand shows the same relaxation on the underwater view. 12 . quickly slide your hand back to your side. she would probably sink less. we don’t want an arm-swinging recovery to hurt that. And. focus on the following: (1) If you sink. (3) Ian’s left hand is so relaxed that water pressure flexes it backward as he brings it to his ear. DRILL #10: ZIPPERSKATE (ZSK) ZSk is the most valuable of all balance drills because it lets you know exactly how to “lay on your lungs” for balance. As you practice ZSk solo. So Lesson Three will teach you an energy-saving. as Joe does. before he begins to pump it. You could easily practice this drill mindfully for 15 to 30 minutes every week for a month or two and learn valuable lessons on every lap. lower your head position and angle your extended hand DEEPER. you’ve learned to generate effortless propulsion by using your hand to simply hold on to a spot in the water while dynamic body-roll takes you past that spot and how to travel farther as you do by keeping your bodyline long during switches. Having painstakingly developed a balanced. because she tends to sink. she returns it to her side immediately. alignment-preserving. Your goal is to sink in a horizontal position. If you are a sinker. RELAXED RECOVERY From Lesson Two. Once you feel that in your bones. drag-reducing recovery. you never forget the feeling. (5) The partnered coaching by Joe and Ian is a brilliant example of how to get the fine points just right. relaxed recovery. aligned foundation. If she kept her left hand fully submerged. (2) Jennifer angles her extended right arm deeply to help her stay balanced as her left arm comes forward to ZipperSkate position.LESSON THREE: ZIPPERSWITCH FOR MASTERING A COMPACT. unlike Joe. ZipperSwitch drills will improve your sense of balance and teach you a compact. please pay particular attention to: (1) Joe keeps his hand completely underwater on recovery and pauses it right next to his ear.

HUG the surface. focus on the following: (1) A compact and unhurried Zipper recovery – hand under water. Practice recovering super slowly. This will imprint the spot where the hand will drive down to switch in the next drill. arm soft. the arm pump can be optional. UNHURRIED RECOVERY… Arms soft. DRILL #11: ZIPPERSWITCH (ZS) The compact. AND DEEP ENTRY alongside your ear – to your clock position. unhurried recovery from ZSk will help to effectively link your armstroke to the power of core-body rotation. then slice down and in as you switch and roll to LVSS on the other side. elbow leading. (3) How “patient” Terry is with the extended arm – waiting for the other hand to slice down. Lead with your elbow and soften your hand and arm. relaxed. pump it.” (3) Relax there for 3 yoga breaths. As soon as your hand catches up to the elbow. Both are also completely in control and unhurried in that recovery. then repeat in the other direction.(2) If you’re stable and supported. PRACTICE SILENTLY. but it is an invaluable way to quickly learn where to make the switch in ZS. AN EARLY. please pay particular attention to: (1) The way Jennifer and Ian use the arm-pump from ZSk to help them find the right entry point. You shouldn’t have to practice this for long. Feel the water’s resistance against your hand. A COMPACT. ZS imprints an early. (2) The way Joe and Ian keep their hands completely submerged through recovery to where they make the switch. (2) Drive the hand DEEP – to your “clock position. 13 . STEEP. On the video. Can you make that recovery action as gentle and relaxed as Joe’s and Ian’s? (3) Finally. (4) Continue to emphasize the following: HEAD RIGHT IN LINE WITH THE SPINE… water flowing over the back of the head. “skate” for a few seconds with your arm hanging as a dead weight alongside your ear. pump your arm up and down once or twice alongside your ear. After two lengths. As you practice ZS solo. elbow leading. steep and deep entry as “purposeful exaggeration” to correct the strong tendency to over-reach on entry and heightens awareness of the FQ timing that keeps your bodyline long throughout the stroke cycle.

Both Joe (who is a world-class sprinter) and Ian are highly accomplished TI swimmers and coaches. the hand should “replace” the hand that was there. KEEP A LOW PROFILE… Hug the surface.” on each switch. 14 . In this case. use these focal points: HIDE YOUR HEAD… Water should flow over the back of your head much of the time… Look straight down and watch yourself slide effortlessly past tiles on the pool bottom. but the learning/practice method it illustrates can be invaluable for nearly anyone. ZS2+ primes you to transition from skillful drilling to beautiful swimming. DRIVE THE HAND DEEP! Keep aiming for the “clock position. When you do three or more switches (relaxed and rhythmic swimmers can do as many as six) this is the most transforming drill in the entire TI sequence. One form is standing in place to practice a subtle movement or skill repeatedly without distraction. watch this segment together first. (4) The angle of Terry’s entry and extension. but both are devout in their belief that mindful practice of fine points can help them continue improving without pause. AND FINALLY DRILL WITHOUT MAKING A SOUND.DRILL #12: MULTI ZIPPERSWITCHES (ZS2+) ZS2+ introduces swimming rhythms to recovery and entry skills taught above. This is from maintaining a long sleek bodyline as he switches rhythmically. SOFTEN YOUR ARMS AND HANDS… Feel the water resist your hand. The other is to work with a partner to help you with the parts you can’t see yourself. FEEL THE COMPLETE SUPPORT OF THE WATER and recover with as much “leisure” as possible. TWO HEADS ARE BETTER THAN ONE This isn’t a drill per se. easily seen from underwater in the Endless Pool. they’re working on leading with the elbow for as long as possible in recovery – lightly restricting the recovering wrist at just the right moment helps remind the swimmer to slice down at that point. In your solo practice of ZS2+. (2) How controlled and unhurried Kathryn’s switches are – with Fistgloves (3) How utterly relaxed – yet impeccably consistent in her timing – Jennifer remains through five switches. as if swimming under a very low ceiling. On the video. please pay particular attention to: (1) How far Joe travels in the course of five switches – his head just keeps traveling past lane markers. but try to recover without splash or turbulence. If you’re going to practice this with a TI Buddy.

If you can practice with a TI Buddy as Joe and Ian demonstrate. elbows at sides with forearms and hands extended forward. hand over hand.LESSON FOUR: LEARN TO SWIM AS WELL AS YOU DRILL Lesson Four will teach you precisely how your stroke will feel for the rest of your life. As someone who is very lean with very long legs. The great value of Drill 13 is that it gives almost anyone. wrist over wrist. an easy way to practice Fishlike Swimming. using your hands to assist in bringing the upper torso horizontal under the water. you’ll gain an amazing sense of effortless balance – with just a slight assist from your partner. you can start every length with momentum and in good balance. Drill 13 is “swimming. and simultaneously roll forward and drop under the surface. rather than your legs. with thumb of top hand closed over bottom hand. Streamline by compressing below your shoulders. he is the very definition of someone for whom balance ought to be a great challenge – and it was as he was learning TI. you’ll notice that he minimizes his kick as much as possible in order to force himself to get balanced by using weight distribution and his extended hand to stay horizontal. even someone in the very early learning stages. The video of Joe doing these drills should be most instructive. Plant and push: Extend the arms and torso into the streamlined position 15 . For some. Roll: Lift feet from the bottom. Here are some additional hints on how to master these drills. squeezing your biceps just behind your ears. in a slippery position. Then do the following: (1) Start in the shallow end.” at least for a while. these drills will teach you to use your core body to achieve balance. This provides two major benefits: (1) Once you learn a balanced. with elbows straight and lock hands together. streamlined pushoff. STEP 1: STREAMLINED PUSHOFF TO BALANCED BREAKOUT It will be helpful to practice the streamlined position on the deck or standing in shallow water: Extend both arms overhead. then: Sit: Crouch with only your head above the surface. (2) If you have felt as if you needed to kick a lot during drills up to this point. back to the wall. In the underwater segments. like squeezing toothpaste from the middle of the tube. MOMENTUM/PUSHOFF DRILLS Momentum drills help you experience speed and balance.

stroke with one arm. shoulder blades and suit breaking the surface simultaneously. immediately – but unhurriedly – begin to draw the arm forward to the Zipper Skate position. You should feel your balance and stability improve noticeably in this position. (2) Glide in balance as far as possible without kicking. Note: It’s essential to drive your hand deeper than you think it should go – and to angle your fingertips downward. 16 . (3) Continue gliding for as long as possible without kicking – or with the lightest possible kick – in the ZipperSkate position. refine your timing so you can complete the stroke and. nose straight down). and push off evenly and forcefully. and then draw the trailing arm forward into the ZipperSkate position. pause for a single beat after you feel your balance in Skating position. as far down the pool as possible. continue pressing in and gliding for as long as you continue to inch forward. (2) After several practice tries.while going horizontal beneath the surface. and to use a progressively more gentle kick to maintain the horizontal position. without pause. add a ZipperSkate to your pushoff. Just before you surface. (3) Begin kicking as late and as gently as possible to continue momentum and keep your legs near the surface. as Joe does. as follows: (1) Push off exactly as described above but. Step 2: Pushoff to Skating Position (1) Do the streamlined pushoff as above. When you master a no-kick balanced breakout. Your goal is to surface in a horizontal position – back of head. Repeat six or more times. after surfacing. alternating sides. After breaking through the surface. while driving the other hand deep as you rotate to Skating position (arm extended. Your goals are to travel just a bit farther each time before you begin kicking. using only the momentum of your pushoff. shallow enough that your momentum alone takes you to the surface. (2) Travel as far as possible in skating position and in balance. shoulders and hips stacked. Note: Balance-challenged swimmers should push off quite shallow – barely below the surface – and with extra speed so your momentum alone will take you to the surface. Step 3: Pushoff to Zipper-Skate As you gain a truly effortless sense of balance without kicking. advance to the next drill. leaving it at your side. (4) Keep your focus on driving the other hand deep with fingertips angled down. plant both feet on the wall.

(3) Heighten your feel for creating water pressure by doing the partnered exercise demonstrated by Mark and Terry. practice “Ear Hops” (so named by TI Coach Gary Fahey) in which you take your hand barely out of the water and immediately reinsert. It also strongly imprints a deft. Your entry position will adjust with speed – but should end up closer to your head at all speeds. In fact. Take turns with a TI Buddy on loosely holding ankles.DRILL #13: OVERSWITCHES (OS2+) This drill teaches you how your new “Fishlike” stroke will feel. (3) Continue to practice Ear Hops on disciplined. Holding Water: When you enter your hand at the deeper. to hold a LOT of water. Here’s the full process: (1) Zipper drills teach you to “switch” while your hand is directly alongside your ear. 17 . you’ll be swimming with your new stroke between pauses in Sweet Spot. as shown by Terry in the underwater Endless Pool view. Simply swim without overt inhibition. (2) A moment of patience on the catch. your bare hand will feel like a big paddle that can hold a LOT of water. OS2+ reinforces the FQ switch timing that helps you swim taller. Instead allow it to move freely as feels natural (not “old-natural” but “new natural”). don’t attempt to restrict your hand to the same entry position. (2) Holding water at the beginning of the stroke. Some ways to improve your feel for this: (1) Practice with Fistgloves as Kathryn demonstrates. We’re not aiming to have you continue swimming this way. and connect your arm to effortless power from core-body rotation. (4) As you swim faster. and (4) seamless breathing. steeper angle. Finally. The video segments show you how to practice four key skills: (1) Ear Hops. to allow this new movement to become imprinted. it teaches you to drive your hand to a solid anchoring position. This lets you feel some water pressure – and eliminate air bubbles – before you stroke. knifelike entry to reduce turbulence and drag. but to use purposeful exaggeration to overcome the common “human-swimming” instinct to over-reach on entry. (2) On OverSwitches. Let’s examine the importance of each: Ear Hops: In Zswitches we imprinted an entry position alongside the ear. we’ve been reinforcing since the “clock position” in Skating. This is actually too early for “swimming” but helps make a strong break from prior habit. you put your hand and forearm in position to act as a “big paddle” for holding a lot of water. After 15 or 20 minutes with them on. then releasing after about six strokes. Watch them at slow motion. then be patient about feeling the water give back some pressure to your hand before stroking. Aim to trap as much water volume inside your hand and forearm as possible. The segments of Terry in the Endless Pool and in a regular pool will give you the best understanding. mindful Superslow whole-stroke repeats. (3) releasing and relaxing at the end of the stroke.

It’s shown in slomotion already. Fiona in the Endless Pool illustrates this well. rhythmic. Keep your head in line as you roll your head and torso as one unit to air. (4) Gradually shift focus from your switch-timing to your core-body-rolling rhythm. perhaps frame-by-frame to see how all three swimmers finish the stroke and exit the water – by rounding off. 18 . and seamless movement with no hesitation or interruptions. plus these: (1) When you take your hand out. Then try one seamless rhythmic breath like this: (1) Breathe by rolling right to where the air is and immediately back in the other direction. (3) Roll as far as necessary. try to have it out of the water for the briefest possible time and have your fingertips clear the water by the minimum possible clearance.Release and Relax: We began to learn the skill of relaxing your arm by focusing on a “soft” arm and yielding to water pressure on ZipperSwitches. (3) Be “patient” on your switches: Start the next stroke as your fingertips enter the water. but to release in a “Cshaped” finish as shown in the 3-swimmer underwater views. roll farther. When practicing OS2+ solo. Once you feel body rhythm. Reinforce it here by: (1) Learning not to push back at the end of your stroke. If you don’t get air easily. but with patience anyone can master the art of the “Seamless Breath. do as many switches as you can without feeling breathless. (2) Try to do that with no interruption of the rolling rhythm you established with your switches. For some students this can be the most challenging part of the entire process. (2) To get an even stronger sense of a completely relaxed “dead weight” hand and forearm during recovery. Start with Overswitches to establish your core-body rotation rhythm then fit a breath into that rhythm: Fit Breathing into Your Rhythm Start each lap with at least four switches – to imprint your core-body-rolling rhythm. The transition from drilling to swimming is accomplished by replacing the Sweet Spot pauses with rhythmic breathing. BREATHING 101 Your swimming movements are all in place now. (2) Slice your hand back into the water just in front of your goggles. adjust body roll to allow for fluid. practice the recovery/entry exercise demonstrated by Joe Novak.” which means to fit breathing into your body-rolling rhythm with no interruption. not pushing back. standing in shallow water on the video. Cut a hole with your fingers and slip your arm cleanly through that hole. but study this in even slower motion. using them to imprint the same focal points as in Drill #12.

do another the same way. and not much that’s forward of you. grace. WHAT: HIDE YOUR HEAD Why: Good head-spine alignment is essential to all skilled movement. trying mainly to feel as described. then compare your stroke count while practicing these focal points. then the other. while swimming freestyle. WHAT: LENGTHEN YOUR BODY Why: A longer body line reduces drag. WHAT MAKES YOUR FREESTYLE FISHLIKE? The object of this video has been to teach you to swim the whole stroke with more flow. slow “cleansing” breaths until you feel ready to swim with ease again. When you move from practicing drills to swimming the whole stroke. how should that feel? Truly gifted swimmers have a rare intuitive understanding of how to move through the water effectively. Fistgloves® can be a big help. and economy than ever before. To test which work best for you. Don’t let yourself feel hurried. easier. several strokes later. try to smooth it out on the next breath. slip through the smallest possible hole. take three to five deep. (5) If you lose control. Slow everything down. (2) Drill or swim as quietly as possible.(4) If that breath goes smoothly. WHAT: SWIM DOWNHILL Why: Balance – feeling completely supported by the water – is the non-negotiable skill of efficient swimming. Pick one of these focal points and swim short repeats (25 to 50 yards) slowly and easily. WHAT: FLOW LIKE WATER Why: Making waves or creating turbulence takes energy. (2) Keep extending your arm…slowly… until you feel your shoulder touch your jaw. Be quieter and more gentle. How: (1) Slip your arm into the water as if sliding it into a sleeve. go back to Sweet Spot on the next breath and think about how to regain control on the next 25. You can develop your “inner coach” by ignoring how far or fast you swim to focus only on doing what feels good and trying to make good feel better. not your forehead. (2) Rhythmically press in one armpit. allowing you to swim faster. How: (1) Lead with the top of your head. (2) See the bottom directly under you. How: (1) Lean on your chest until your hips and legs feel light. Between repeats. How: (1) Pierce the water. count your strokes for 25 or 50 yards before beginning. 19 . If you sensed a slight interruption in your rhythm. all of it supplied by you.

or Slim Fins. and be comfortable swimming in any body of water. Be patient. You’re now ready to view the to read free excerpts from TSME or call 800-609-7946 to order TSME. Fistgloves. and we guarantee you’ll see dramatic improvement and continue improving for life. While the title refers to Triathlon. Visit www.totalimmersion. and to send your swimming – and your experience of swimming – into a new dimension. Happy laps! Terry Laughlin 20 . It is the perfect practice guide for those who’ve begun building a new stroke with Freestyle Made Easy. swim with great thought and precision.Portions of this viewer’s guide have been excerpted from Triathlon Swimming Made Easy: How ANYONE can succeed in triathlon (or open-water swimming) with Total Immersion by Terry Laughlin. this book is actually a detailed learner’s manual for anyone who would like to swim a fluent. effortless freestyle for any distance.