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Swimmer Wannabe
February 25th, 2002, 01:40 PM
I recently attended a TI workshop. It was very enlightening and I greatly improved my stroke over a weekend. During the class, the instructors emphasized that they were having the students exaggerate the movements (e.g. amount of rotation), but that the principles were proven effective and adhering to them would be the most efficient way to swim (longer, easier and faster).

When I got home, I reviewed my slow-motion videos of freestylers from the Sydney Olympics. Hardly any of the top swimmers (regardless of distance) were swimming on their sides or using "front-quadrant" swimming. Also, they slide their recovering arm into the water much further in front of their heads than TI advocates. Now I'm scratching my head. Is TI only designed to make mere mortals swim faster or is it useful for strong collegiate, masters and other swimmers as well? If the principles are so sound, why don't the best swimmers use them? Is it worth my while to try to swim the TI way (which involves A LOT of muscle re-training), even though my masters coach is giving me puzzled looks because my technique no longer resembles the rest of the team?

Any comments are appreciated -- especially from those who have taken and followed the TI methods, or who have taught them (Emmett, etc.). Thanks.

Leonard Jansen
February 26th, 2002, 08:00 AM
Hunter Thompson once said something like: "I do not advocate the use of violence, drugs, insanity or alcohol, but they have worked well for me." So bear that in mind as you read what follows.

On a purely personal level, I must say that TI techniques have been wonderful for me, both in terms of speed and ease of swimming. However, keep in mind that there is a difference between TECHNIQUE (what TI teaches) and STYLE( the adaptation of a technique to your unique body structure and abilities). For example, I have NO kick whatsoever. Therefore, the frequency of my strokes tends to be very slightly higher than what the TI way might consider optimal. If I try to get across the pool in say, eleven strokes, I can do it but it involves a lot of acceleration and deceleration. It is better for me to do it in 12 - 14 strokes. It is smoother and places less stress on my shoulders. Someone else, perhaps with a nice kick, would have little problem. The TI principles (lessen drag, swim purposefully, etc) all apply, but the details get tweaked a bit to fit me.

As to world class swimmers not using TI: I disagree. I have seen video clips of Thorpe and Klim using what I would consider a modified TI-type stroke. (Can't remember the URL - sorry.) More of a "catch-up" style of stroke, butt high in the water, power from the hips, but modified to fit them and the fact that they can sacrifice some efficiency for speed. (Similar to a sprinter in track & field - the fastest way to run is not always the most efficient way; it just depends on the distance you are going.)

I could never afford a TI clinic due to my wife's health problems, but using the (older) book and video helped me. I can only guess that the clinic, if properly applied, might be even better.

BTW, our swim group recently got a new coach and he stopped me in the middle of the first practice's warmup and said "My God, how on earth did you get such beautiful technique."

Total Immersion!

KenChertoff
February 26th, 2002, 06:34 PM
I've never learned TI techniques (at least not expressly; my coach may have incorporated some TI methods in his stroke sessions) so I really can't comment on its effectiveness.

As to the swimmers in Sydney not using those techniques, I agree with Leonard that many were using a "catch-up" type stroke that's similar to "front quadrant" swimming (at least as I understand it). However, many were also using a "new Australian crawl" technique that does not have the pronounced body roll taught by TI. As it's been described to me, it involves a lift of the shoulder, rather than a full roll of the entire body.

NEALK56
April 19th, 2002, 01:42 PM
Ok, I will show my ignorance. But I have no idea what front quadrant, catch-up, etc mean. Is ther a book or other resource where I can become water literate an dlearn to speak swimmer?

yet another newbie,
Neal

GoRedFoxes
April 23rd, 2002, 02:03 PM
ACK! I hate the term "New Australian Crawl". An American Freestyler in the 84 olympics (can't remember his name, contact Larry VanWagner at Marist College for it) used this flat shoulder positioning and limited (almost non-existent) S curve stroke. I remember coaches criticizing his stroke tecnique because most US coaches were still in the dark ages when it came to pushing the S curve. Remember the critics of Janet Evans for her 'windmill' recovery?

Olympians using catch up free? Sprinters? :rolleyes:

Peace out

Matt S
April 23rd, 2002, 06:14 PM
Neal,

Emmett Hines has written an article posted on this very web site. On the list of links on the left hand side of the USMS home page. Click on "Technique" under "Training" (or you can type in "http://www.usms.org/training/technique.htm"). Then click on the article "Swimming in Circles." He explains what "front quadrant swimming" is and why it's important. Emmett's other articles are also valuable, and they explain many of the TI concepts.

To provide one swimmer's take on why TI works: Traditional swimming training techniques focus on building up the swimmer's strength and endurance. In other words, improving the body's energy system to allow it to swim stronger and sustain that effort over longer periods of time. TI starts with the premise/assumption/observation that the human body applies power very inefficiently as it generates foward swimming velocity. Thus, the advocates of TI believe you can see much more improvement in your swimming by focusing on techinque. The goal is to reduce drag, and generate power using your larger core body muscle, rather than work on the capacity of your CV system, arms, and legs to swim faster/longer. One TI credo is focus on technique, and conditioning will happen.

I buy into TI for two reasons. First, I have tried it and swam faster times than I did when I was two years younger and focused exclusively on conditioning type of workouts. For me it worked. Second, I know that I cannot work-out has hard as I did when I was 20, and when I am 60, I will not be able to work-out as hard as I can now at 40. There is a point of dimishing returns. BUT, if I continue to refine my stroke technique, maybe I can equal or exceed the loss of conditioning capacity! Many TI believers argue that swimming is a complex activity like tennis, or martial arts, or yoga. If you buy that analogy, you know that people spend years or a lifetime studying those disciplines, and who is to say how much better I can become if I bring the same approach to swimming?

Matt

KenChertoff
April 23rd, 2002, 07:16 PM
Originally posted by GoRedFoxes
ACK! I hate the term "New Australian Crawl". An American Freestyler in the 84 olympics (can't remember his name, contact Larry VanWagner at Marist College for it) used this flat shoulder positioning and limited (almost non-existent) S curve stroke. I remember coaches criticizing his stroke tecnique because most US coaches were still in the dark ages when it came to pushing the S curve. Remember the critics of Janet Evans for her 'windmill' recovery?

Olympians using catch up free? Sprinters? :rolleyes:

Peace out

You're right -- the Australians probably didn't "invent" that style. But Australian coaches were the first who were willng to accept it and teach it to their swimmers. A swimmer who did it before the Australians used it (to great success) in 2000 was likely to be criticized and told to stop. From that standpoint, calling it the "new Australian crawl" seems justified.