Pages Navigation Menu

Travails of a Non-Swimmer

First Attempt at Total Immersion Freestyle

Perpetual Motion Freestyle DVD

I went to the pool armed with some drills from the Total Immersion Swimming: Perpetual Motion Freestyle in Ten Lessons DVD. Since I was already comfortable with my face down in the water I skipped Lessons 1 and 2 and went straight to Lesson 3. (I found the printable PDF User Guide here)

Basic Breathing Drill

The pool had a two-hour limit so I planned to do all of the breathing lessons within that span. I thought I could do it, but alas! Terry Laughlin and my new coach make it look so easy. It isn’t. I struggled with the first drill: rotating smoothly from a face-down horizontal position to a face-up one. In fact, I spent the entire session trying to do it. My plans to complete the chapter within the day went down the drain. Finally, after an hour and a half I was able to rotate (easier from the right than from the left). But it was nowhere near as smooth and effortless as Terry.

Relying on the Wrong Parts of the Body

But I learned one very, very important lesson. Up until now, what with my group lessons coach teaching us mainly with the kickboard and encouraging us to become kickstatic, I acquired the bad habit of trying to find balance and movement with my legs and arms. Instead of being able to acquire both balance and movement through rotations from my core, I relied so much on my legs and arms that when the TI drill forced me to keep my arms and legs out of the way, I couldn’t even rotate at all!

It was very eye opening. And painful, too, as I ended up taking in some pool water from my nose. Hard as I tried to keep on exhaling from my nose until my face was turned up to the ceiling, I still somehow nose-drank water. Terry advised to breath out more forcefully as the face turns to the surface. That is something I need to work on, as water through the nose is so unpleasant!

Virtual Peer Support

My time on the pool was up so I went home, feeling both happy with the revelation (importance of core balance and movement) and miserable with my slow progress.

One thing that helped me was going through the O2 in H20: Breathing Skills forum in the TI site. Adults around the world, learning to breath properly in freestyle for the first time, were not finding it to be easy-peasy. It’s an advanced skill. I actually found that I wasn’t having as much difficulty as some others because exhaling from my nose and inhaling through my mouth was already my way of breathing. It seems that there are others out there who do the opposite, and therefore find the breathing drills to be exceptionally challenging.

For me, it wasn’t as much as where to breath, but more on how to rotate my core, that I found exceptionally challenging. One of the forum posters wrote that Terry has developed the form and back muscles needed for smooth rotation; it takes practice and one must not expect to be able to do it immediately. That’s encouraging! :)

I resolved to strengthen my core muscles by working out regularly at the gym.

Really looking forward to the next pool time to work on my core rotation.

Notes to Self: Do

  • Use spinal stabilizers to maintain a low-drag, aligned position during rotation.
  • Rotate to air with a weight shift not head turn.
  • Relax! If you fail a rotation you can always dive back in, stand up and start again.

Notes to Self: Don’t

  • Stop exhaling through your nose as your face hits the surface. You need to breath out more forcefully to keep water out.
  • Rotate with your shoulders! Must rotate with the body, not the shoulders dragging the body.
  • Use your hands to press and rotate your thighs when transitioning from Superman Glide to rotation. That’s not rotating from the core!


You just finished reading First Attempt at Total Immersion Freestyle. Please consider leaving a comment! This post is from the swim blog, Sink or Swim: Travails of a Non-Swimmer. If you are not currently reading this via swim.beverlyclaire.com, then this post may have been stolen or scraped from the Sink or Swim: Travails of a Non-Swimmer site. Republishing this article in full or in part is a violation of Copyright Law (c)2013, All rights reserved.






Browse other gifts from Zazzle.


  • Pingback: Love the Running Machine | Sink or Swim()

  • Pingback: Blast from the Past: Judo, Me & My Chicken Heart | Sink or Swim()

  • slf

    Inhaling water HURTS! Glad the DVD wasn’t a waste of money.

    • beverlyclaire

      Yes, nose-drinking water is a kind of torture!

      Many adults swear by the Total Immersion swimming method, so I’m trying to be hopeful. They have a branch in Japan, with a swim salon offering video analysis, intensive classes, etc. Maybe someday, when I have the money! In the meantime I’ll stick to the DVDs.

      • Tahera Nilufar Morshed

        TI truly is amazing. I see these other adult swimmers trying to learn in traditional way , they look so pained .

    • Tahera Nilufar Morshed

      I use a nose clip while learning new stuff. Once the drill is well learned I try without the clip.

  • Pingback: Running on Potatoes | Sink or Swim()

  • Pingback: Sweet Spot to Skate Position | Sink or Swim()

  • Pingback: TI Breaststroke for Every Body: First Look | Sink or Swim()

  • Pingback: February 2013 Wrap-up: The Wonders of Total Immersion Swimming | Sink or Swim()

  • Tahera Nilufar Morshed

    12 days of following the DVD , SG and torpedo so far . The rotation is very hard. And as I have just started swimming have no idea about breathing. I too try to rotate my shoulder. Your article gives valuable insight. Thx for sharing your journey , Happy Swimmimn :)

    • http://interiors.beverlyclaire.com Beverly Claire

      Good for you for taking the initiative to self-teach! It took me some
      time but I eventually figured out the breathing part, so I’m quite
      certain anybody can learn to do it. I think it’s really important to do
      the drill sequences and also watch the TI-related videos on YouTube.
      Those really helped me visualize! :) All the best to you and yes, happy
      swimmin’!