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Terry Laughlin: five principles of intelligent swimming (Total Immersion Swimming)

I’ll share five first principles of intelligent, improvement-oriented swimming.

First, is to recognize that, as a human swimmer, you are an energy-wasting machine. DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in designing a swim foil for the Navy Seals, back in 2005, they did an efficiency estimation for a group of lap swimmers. These were not tutored or coached swimmers, but people who think they’re pretty okay. That they swim laps a lot, and they found they were only 3 percent efficient. 97 percent of their energy was going into something other than locomotion. So, as a human swimmer, you are naturally an energy wasting machine. And, everything you do – focus on saving energy, before you focus on increasing fitness. That goes back to what Bill Boomer said. Conditioning is something that happens while you build, refine, or imprint skills. So, that’s principle number one.

Principle number two, most of what we know about swimming is wrong. All our primal instincts about swimming lead us astray, and most of what we hear are not helpful. So, you really have to exercise critical thinking. If someone suggests you try something, and it doesn’t seem to work, well, maybe it wasn’t a good idea… (if) you experience something… that works, then trust in your own intuition about things, and don’t feel that you have to believe what you hear from authoritative sources.

Principle number three, it’s obvious that efficiency is not natural for humans, inefficiency is natural. But, is entirely learnable… Anyone, anyone can learn to swim with great efficiency, and then improve on it continuously, by applying the principles of mastery. Including love the plateau.

Principle number four, if you want to swim with more ease, or more efficiency, think about what you can do to make your vessel sleeker. And, when I finish with the five principles, I’ll just mention three or four simple action items, for the next time you go to the pool. But, strive for a sleeker vessel. It’s a universally unquestioned truth, among naval architects, and scientists who study fish. So, why should it be different for your body?

And then, finally, strive to swim in a way that you use your body as a whole. Resist any suggestion someone tells you, to just pull or kick, or separate the pull and kick in your training, strive for a seamlessly integrated movement, that is based in the core.

So, those are five first principles worth listening to again, and writing down, I think.

Total Immersion Swimming’s Terry Laughlin interviewed on The Tim Ferris Show #276

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