For the past two weeks, my hamstrings have been in a revolt. I have been in a constant battle to stretch and remain pain free, much to my chagrin. I’ve had problems with my right leg for a while now, but my left leg has decided to join in the fun.

This sucks.

Thanks to this setback, I’ve been focusing lately on swimming and cycling and re-upped my gym membership to 24 Hour Fitness. $30 a month for a pool that is always open that no one uses?

In 2010, I was strictly focused on triathlon training and spent a lot of time in the pool. I quickly learned swimming is different than cycling, running or any other endurance event for one simple reason.

Working hard does not equal going faster.

On a run, if you turn your legs over faster and work harder, you go faster. If you crank harder on a bike, you move faster.

If you try harder in the pool the more effort I exert, the more annoyed I becomes and so starts the downward spiral.

The act of swimming does not make me faster.

Well then genius, what does?

Deliberate practice and a focus on technique.

Cue Total Immersion

Since I started back in the pool, I’ve put a lot of time into learning and watching videos and DVD’s about Total Immersion [+]. The TI method of swimming is based on working less, becoming more streamlined and performing better based on sustainability.

I spent last Friday night taking a look at a talk from Terry Laughlin speaking at Multisport World Conference and Expo, 2009. As I was watching the YouTube videos, I began to take notes. Information is best shared, so I’m sharing my notes and what I learned from the various slides and comments.

Total immersion techniques take time to learn and master because they are different than normal techniques. As Jerry says in the video, nothing you see in the video I’ve been working extremely hard with focused effort on a lot of Terry’s points. The more focused and dedicated you make the training, the more you see results.

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Total Immersion Talk Notes, Multisport World Conference and Expo, 2009.

What will make you faster.

Resistive vs. Propulsive forces

Propulsive forces have a cost, but generally resistiance forces do not have a cost. (working harder vs. being more streamlined)

Sustainability not velocity (saving energy)

Being able to maintain the same output over the set distance.

Can you sustain the pace when others are decelerating?

Why work Less?

In Water, we improve by shaping the vessel.

–Shaping the vessel means becoming more aerodynamic, therefore producing less drag and moving through the water more easily.

metabolic, motor and mental endurance

metabolic – fitness level

motor – imprinting the body to perform the same activity over and over. Being able to execute the same stroke thought over and over (stroke 1 vs. stroke 25,000)

mental – being able to mentally picture and focus on each stroke in the water.

What working less looks like.

Cooperate with gravity

Take the path of least resistance

Legs draft behind (don’t kick) your torso

Arms part (don’t push) water.

–Separating water molecules in front and not worrying about pushing behind

Swim with your body (weight shifts) not pulling and kicking

Picking a particular place in the water and driving your hand there.

Identifying muscles that are activating and relaxing and deactivating them to save energy.

Propulsion is from arms and legs to work together through the core. Driving left foot, right hip together to push right arm/hand to the spot. (keeps lactate production low = less energy expended)

Activities: Superman’s Glide – arms on wide tracks, head hangs between shoulders, legs draft.

Rotation: Just enough to clear one shoulder, too much creates lateral instability (like walking a tight rope).

The most important muscles in swimming are not those you can see. Midline stabilizers.

You become a good swimmer by thinking about how to get from the start to the finish in the best way, not getting from one side to another

Extend bodyline, lengthening into streamline position.

Consciously relax the hands, forearms, helps you go into the water cleanly.

Take the time to make it a habit.

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