What Makes Great Swimming?


Do you ever get overwhelmed by different bits of advice for your swimming? Your squad coach gives you 3 pointers for ‘stroke correction’, your run training partner has his own suggestions and that is just the start! Head online and there are literally thousands of different techniques, drills and exercises to choose from…

Just listening to all the information can leave you confused!

Total Immersion provides a logical, systematic approach to developing swimming skills. There are lots of details and they all have a precise place in the learning progression. This pyramid is a simple overview:

Why a Pyramid?

Each level builds on the previous one. Its hard to glide through the water if you feel like you are about to sink. You can’t have rhythm and flow without propulsion! The wider each layer of the pyramid the easier it is to build the next layer.

What is ‘0. Relationship With The Water’?

Are you working with the water or are you fighting it? Does your effort help you to go forward or are you wasting energy creating bubbles, splash and noise? Is your stroke relaxed? Do you go faster when you work harder? Does your ‘easy pace’ feel easy?

Concentrate on feeling the support of the water. 99% of people are naturally buoyant with some air in their lungs. Enjoy this sensation!

Is it possible to glide too much? (level 1)

Yes absolutely. Some coaches teach a long, gliding stroke. Others teach a short, choppy stroke. Instead of thinking ‘Should I glide or not?’ start to feel ‘how much glide’ is optimal for your speed and effort. In a 50m sprint there isn’t a lot of gliding. At longer distances you see a lot more glide. If you don’t have the skill you have no choices. Learn to glide at cruising pace then modify as your effort increases. Optimize time, effort and stroke count by measuring them. Eventually you will learn to feel exactly how much to glide.

What about the ‘pull through’? Its not in the pyramid?

Its part of level 2 which is all about propulsion. Most swimmers are taught the ‘kick’ and ‘pull’ as two separate actions which often results in poor core engagement, lack of coordination and a loss of forward propulsion.  Work with your whole body and you can engage the whole kinetic chain including your lats and core to connect from fingertip all the way through to core!  Instead of ‘pushing water backwards’ aim to swim your body forwards past your hand with power from your hips.

How about ‘high elbow recovery’? Is that a good idea?

Good question! The recovery fits into level 3. The arm that is out of the water is in the ‘recovery phase’ so the most important thing is to switch off most of the muscles while its moving forward. Meantime the other arm is in the ‘glide phase’ so you don’t want to rush the recovery. When your forearm is relaxed you certainly will have a ‘high elbow’! It should feel like a loose, relaxed flowing movement. If you feel tense or get shoulder pain then you aren’t switching off enough muscles…

Is this the only model for swimming skills? Is it perfect?

Of course not! No model is perfect and most ideas have limitation. A better question is whether it is useful! At TI Australia we use the pyramid to help people to understand what they feel, hear and see in their swimming and to identify key areas for improve. Effective propulsion (level 2) is really important but it won’t help you much if your legs are hanging down at 45 degrees. That is why learning to balance (level 1) comes first.

Do I have to be perfect at each level before I move on to the next?

No no no. Don’t fall into the ‘perfectionism trap’!

Once you have done some work on each level then move onto the next so you end up with a full range of skills. Just remember to keep on going back to basics until you are feeling relaxed, balanced, powerful and flowing! Remember that the wider the base of your ‘pyramid’ the higher and better you can build it.

Can you help me to learn using this system?

Yes abslolutely.

Our Demo Course will give you a taste of the first 3 levels and some powerful tools to start to bring them into your stroke.

The Fishlike Freestyle Workshop teaches all 5 levels of the pyramid.

Click on the names of the courses for more information and course schedule.

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