Total Immersion swimming (or TI) is a method of swimming instruction invented by Terry Laughlin. It emphasizes balance, streamlined movements, and strong, efficient propulsion instead of kicking faster or moving your arms more quickly.

TI swimming is beautiful, nearly effortless, and resembles a martial art in the precision and purposefulness of movements as well as in the concentration and mindfulness that’s required to practice it.

Watch this video to see for yourself.

Total Immersion changes the way people think about swimming and has revolutionized long-distance swimming in particular. The simple idea that kicking is actually counter-productive in freestyle swimming, is something that many people resist — we’ve all been told otherwise. However, by not kicking, streamlining your stroke, and balancing your body with your lungs as the fulcrum, the average person can quickly learn to reduce the number of strokes they take by half and dramatically increase the distance that they’re able to swim.

The principles of TI are all based on hydrodynamics, but the science alone isn’t enough. TI requires swimmers to let go of what they’ve learned and to practice swimming as a mental and breathing exercise rather than as an arm and leg exercise.

Can the same mindset that applies to Total Immersion swimming apply to life-long learning? Absolutely. Learning and teaching any skill can always benefit from reexamination of what we thought we already knew and from spending the time to become more efficient and balanced.

For programmers: there are always better ways to use the tools of your trade if you spend the time learning them. Learning a new programming language (or any new language, for that matter) gives you more appreciation and understanding of your primary one.

For writers: reading anything, but especially reading good books on writing can change the way you see your style and help you eliminate bad habits you don’t even know you have.

For teachers: having a deep understanding of the science and art of your material is just the start. Breathing, understanding of the students, and patience are just as critical to presenting content in a streamlined and understandable way.

This week, when you catch yourself feeling like whatever it is that you’re struggling with is difficult, take a moment to focus on immersing yourself totally in efficient and purposeful movements or thoughts — and always maintain your balance.

Total Immersion and Learning
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