I received a comment on the latest blog post ‘Improve Swimming Speed Part 1‘, and it grieved me a bit. This swimmer wrote:

“I learned crawl by myself with the TI method over 10 years ago. I quickly managed to swim 1500m and more. But that’s really my only accomplishment. I’m still slow as I was 10 years ago, despite swimming and training 2-3 times a week. I have read all the TI books and looked TI-DVD’s, read the TI forum for years. I have joined a couple of the TI camps, and also taken one personal TI lesson from a TI coach. You say “Trust the process”, but I mistrust this process.”

I wrote a personal email back to him with the offer to examine his experience of the process to find out where short-comings in the Total Immersion services may be, or find a gap in his understanding that we might fill and send him on his way to better results. He has not replied yet. His comment made me consider what gaps there may be in your understanding of TI – both in your mind, and in the bridge I am trying to build for you in our training events and in the Online Coaching Program.

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One of Terry’s highest values that led to the Total Immersion system was this declaration early in his coaching career, “The problem is not the swimmer, the problem is the method.”

If the swimmer is failing to progress, then the method needs to be examined. And this remains one of our guiding values today. That is what makes TI unique among all other programs that have great success with swimmers – they may have success with some (usually more gifted) swimmers, but how many are they not able to help? TI is expecting success with all kinds of swimmers, especially the most troubled ones that other programs can’t help.

We warmly welcome those who have failed in the other systems, and if our current box of tools won’t help, we are eager to invent new ones rather than send them away. This continually puts the TI method and the TI Coach under the test. It forces us to refine things more and more. But it does not remove the responsibility of the student. And that is why we need to examine all parts of the equation to find out where the obstacle to any swimmer’s progress may be.

We might say there are four parts to the success equation with Total Immersion:

  1. The completeness of the TI Method to meet all needs.
  2. The competence of the teaching (whether from a coach or a book/video).
  3. The understanding of the swimmer.
  4. The quality of practice (time, attention) given by the swimmer.

Because I know you somewhat, and you have been a part of the  Online Coaching Program, I have no doubts in your dedication to improve with TI. I have no doubts in the TI Method – I am not claiming it to be perfect, because all human programs are adaptations and a work-in-progress – but I spent so many years testing it myself and seeing results with so many others (especially those who are not natural at swimming), that I am confident it is better than most.

But where I am constantly questioning myself is in how well I am teaching you. How can I do better at giving you just what you need, right when you need it? Then, how can I do better at teaching you how to do this for yourself when I am not there to do it for you? And I am looking for the gaps in your understanding of the method.

The whole point of the Self-Coaching Program is to save time and error by passing on to you what worked so well for me and countless others. (Maybe one day you will turn around and pass it on to another swimmer also!) It is an experimental project to develop this online coaching tool to help you succeed at home, on your own.

So, inspired by the comment from this swimmer I want to clarify your understanding of the TI method, if it is needed. I want to help you set your expectations to match how this works.

Look for the continuation of this essay in Part 2…