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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2013
I've always been rubbish at front crawl, so before I went on holiday this year I got this book out of the library to take to Greece with me. Other reviewers have pointed out that the author tries to urge you to buy other products such as DVDs, coaching, Fistgloves (TM) etc, but I reckoned that if the book was any good, then I ought to be able to learn from it "the same way we do everything in the German Army ... by the book of instructions."

Anyhow no-one could be more surprised than me to find that this cheapskate strategy has actually worked, and after 2 weeks in the sea I am, officially, Domino Vitali. You don't have to battle against the waves any more, they just sort of roll you forward. By the end of the holiday I was recommending this book to just about anyone who would listen.

The only quibble I have is with the illustrations, which are meagre, and also look like they were done using an old Rotadraw. The Underswitch in particular could do with a picture to show what you're meant to do with the first arm. If it so happens that your only audience is a few fish, this is not a problem, but in the shallow end of a crowded public baths I reckon it would be a good deal harder to envisage. The author says himself at one point that "a picture is worth a thousand words" so in this digital age it would not have broken the bank to have inserted a few more pictures, instead of recommending that you buy the DVD (which shows that he himself thinks the book falls short in this department). However, to me the book was worth 5 stars. So my recommendation to other readers is that you save the money on coaching and other accessories, put it towards a beach holiday, and take this book along with you.
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81 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on 29 September 2008
I'm not a big swimmer, but I heard so much about this book that I had to check it out- and I'm glad I did. This book will save a lot of people who are trying to learn to swim better a lot of time. Here's why:

-the book concentrates on swimming technique, correct position, and how you're suppose to feel in the water
-the book gives you drills to reinforce the most efficient way to swim
-the book is very scientific and the info is based on hydrodynamics

The book covers a lot of ground, but the authors writing style makes is go by quickly (at least it did for me). The pictures were good and I thought the explanations of the techniques and the "why" behind them was very understandable. Not sure about the rotator cuff routine in Chapter 16 though- it's kinda long and I'm not sure if some of the exercises like the reverse biceps curl is really necessary (rec. Treat Your Own Rotator Cuff for swimmers who have shoulder issues).

In conclusion, I found the book very enlightening and recommend it to anyone (young OR old) who wants to learn how to swim more efficiently by learning the correct swimming techniques. The author obviously loves swimming and has brought all his years of experience and research into one handy resource.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 23 November 2010
I returned to swimming 8 months ago after a long break, and wanted to improve my front crawl technique, so bought Terry Laughlin's "Total Immersion". I've practiced almost daily and this book has definitely helped quite a bit.

There are 3 main techniques explained here which are key to swimming front crawl well; they are : balancing your body correctly, swimming long ie. with your arm extended and swimming on your side. Why these techniques improve your front crawl swimming is explained very well. Indeed the whole book is very readable and quite entertaining.

Step by step drills are given in chapter 8, to teach you how to progress to the complete stroke, which you may or may not want to follow. I personally didn't, but kept reading over the chapter to compare it to what I was doing in the pool. The book also recommends buying the accompanying DVD for the book. I didn't do this either as I found plenty of related Total Immersion video clips on the Internet.

Overall then, I found the book enjoyable and useful for improving my stroke. My only criticism is that there is very little about correct breathing in front crawl, which is actually quite important to get your stroke right. But again, there is plenty on that aspect of swimming on the Internet, so it isn't really a problem.

The only other thing I'd like to point out is that while the Total Immersion method is very well explained, and clearly works, there is a noticeable difference between it and competitive front crawl swimming. Watch some videos online of say Michael Phelps or Ian Thorpe and it'll be obvious that their arm stroke is different ie. the arm does not sink after entry. So, Total Immersion is not for speed. It is designed to teach relaxed, efficient swimming which is useful for say long distance swimming.

To sum up then, if you want to improve your swimming, I would definitely recommend this book. But at some point I think you will want to seek out other sources too eg. swimming websites online, to get a full overview of the front crawl stroke.


[After having practiced this stroke for 2 years & 2 months now, I'd like to offer some more feedback, about the TI method, that I hope will be useful to others learning front crawl.

Just two points really:

Firstly, the TI book emphasises pushing or leaning on your chest/lungs to improve balance & raise your hips. While this does work, other instructors/methods suggest pushing down on your hips - not your lungs - instead. I've found the latter method to be much more effective in improving balance and speed. In the book, T Laughlin writes at some length about both his discovery of 'pushing down on your buoy' and it's importance in making your stroke easier & more effective; it makes you 'swim downhill' as he puts it. While I'm not going to be bold enough to say this is an error, I know from practice that pushing on your hips is way better. It will make you faster and more streamlined. The 2 methods can easily be tried out at home, with the aid of a chair or low stool, to see which one works better.

Secondly, TI advises learners to lower their hand/forearm after entering the water. Again, this kind of improves your balance and makes your stroke a bit easier, but actually is nowhere near as effective as keeping your hand/forearm at the surface of the water, before you begin your catch & pull through, which is what competitive swimmers do. You do need a little bit of strength in your arms/shoulders to achieve this, but with a little bit of practice this shouldn't be too hard.

To gradually improve at front crawl swimming, I've had to make these two changes to the basic TI stroke, and while I would still recommend the book to anyone seeking improvement in their swimming, I definitely think the book should be used in conjunction with other teaching methods. As in most sports, a lot of trial and error seems to be involved when trying to get better at swimming, so following the instructions in T Laughlin's 'Total Immersion' religiously, would not I think, be a good idea. Alongside the TI book, I've found a number of swim websites to be quite useful, especially two that I use regularly : &; I only use the free info on these sites and haven't had to subscribe or pay.] (14/6/12)


After three and a half years of swimming I've kind of stopped and taken up running instead. Apparently runners have a lower resting heart rate than swimmers, mainly because the heart can't pump blood as fast while you're in a horizontal position. An interesting fact I thought. Anyway, I probably should put this in a blog (or something similar) but still, here are my best tips for front crawl swimming; I hope some people will find them useful, maybe beginners...

1. Use the basic Total Immersion method, ie. extended arm, swimming on your side by rotating, and keeping good balance by pushing down on your hips.
2. Keep your head still and keep the water level - on the crown - constant ie. don't let your head dip up or down.
3. Have a slight bend in your knees while kicking.
4. Point your toes back to the rear wall and let your feet just break the water; don't let your feet flop about.
5. Have a good constant breathing pattern and never hold your breath.
6. When pulling underwater keep your arm close to your chest.

Well that's it...good luck to anyone learning and just a final word to say the TI method is really good, but keep you're mind open to other ideas from other places. Thanks for reading! (7/12/13)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2013
Fellow swimmers, deciding to place themselves in the fast lane alongside me, proceeding to kick and pull their way up and down the pool, are regularly filled with envy and annoyance, when they continue to find that their toes are regularly tickled by a swimmer who glides up and down with grace and efficiency.

Upon passing them with such ease and comfort, I'm able to fully observe their poor technique, even taking the time to shake my head in disbelief.

Instead, having taken advantage of body roll, which naturally encourages the head to break the surface of the water, having found one's sweet spot whilst continuing to maintain a neutral spine position, I'm able to observe fellow swimmers lifting their head out of the water to breathe, causing their hips to sink, resulting in increased drag.

Upon observing them, as they choose to fight against the water, it's clear that they obviously haven't heard of total immersion, which teaches the exact opposite of everything metioned above.

During the application of the principles that Terry advocates, one's technique may feel rather peculiar, since his instruction goes against everything one has ever learned when taking conventional swimming lessons.

Once the principles of his instruction have been adopted and mastered, however, one can look forward to gliding up and down the pool with consumate ease, grace and elegance, particularly as the high elbow and seemingly lazy hand entry will allow you to become the envy of fellow pool users.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2007
My wife laughed when I said I'd bought a book about how to swim. But the results are quite amazing.

Before I started with it, I could swim breaststroke quite well, and had taken two courses at the local pool on how to do crawl. But my crawl stroke was still a mess and I was always gasping for breath after a single length. Within 10 sessions using the book I can swim 3 lengths in a row without a problem. More importantly, my stroke is completely different - more balanced, much easier, less tiring.

Of course, you can't just read the theory and start swimming differently. You have to do the exercises! I found them very straightforward to follow. You do look a bit silly doing the first few, but because the theory is explained, you already know it's going to be worth it.

P.S. Although the book is only about front crawl I found my breaststroke improved too, because of better balance.
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81 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2009
Following the advice of another Amazon reviewer, I took a look at this in my local bookshop before buying. I was intrigued enough to buy it - but have since discovered that there is a more recent book that supercedes this one. That book is called "Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body". I wish I had known before I bought this one!
There is also more than one TI DVD, likewise some more recent than others. I believe the latest is "Easy Freestyle: 21st Century Techniques"

UPDATE - since I wrote my original review I have done a TI workshop which was absolutely facntastic. I am revising some of my comments below in light of what I have learned. If possible I would also amend my rating to THREE OR FOUR STARS - but it seems I can't edit that part of the review.

Firstly, you will probably NOT be able to teach yourself the TI approach to swimming just by reading this book. What the book provides primarily is background information that is very useful as a COMPANION to the DVD. (Chapters 1-7)

The key point is that because water is so much denser than air, the secret to fast swimming is efficient swimming rather than more effort. We all know this intellectually; but only serious swimmers actually act upon it.
There are some interesting scientific facts along the way.

Chapters 9-16 are about training for races, fitness etc. Most of this was of little interest to me - I just want to learn efficient technique.

Which just leaves Chapter 8. This is a series of deceptively simple drills that are designed to teach efficient swimming starting from scratch. And this is what intrigued me enough to buy the book. I wanted to be one of those guys cruising past with no effort and no splashes. (My crawl was not bad, but you know the people I mean - they are in a different league).

However, the exercises are much easier to understand by watching the DVD.

So my recommendation is buy the book for the background concepts, and buy the DVD to see how to do the exercises.

But ideally you need hands-on tuition. The TI approach is radically different from other styles of swim coaching - so you might need help to unlearn existing habits & assumptions
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2010
The methods, despcriptions and techniques described in this book are excellent but you do have to wade through about a third of the book before you really get to them, as this part is about getting you to buy into the program. I half expected to be asked to perform high fives and shout Hell yeah and do some "whoopin an a hollerin" before getting to the pool. As said in the title, Very American in writing style but the outcome is excellent and is keeping me motivated too!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2014
The book has some very good tips. It is motivational, seems to make sense and it seems to work in the pool. Terry comes across as well intentioned as he has spent decades of perfecting his technique in the pool and we get the benefit of this experience.

However this comes at a cost.

We are required to read seven chapters of not-a-lot before seeing the actual tips in chapter 8. It seems as though Terry has trained his body how to swim better, this has yet to make it to his brain. Terry uses far too many words, confuses himself and his readers and loses track of the valuable stuff. An example of this is that the exercises and drills in chapter 8 are different from the DVD. For example in the DVD you start out on your front doing a "superman glide" whereas in the DVD you start out on your back.

Terry if you are reading this, here is my tip: include in your book 10 laminated pages of key drills for quick pool-side reference. And cut the first 7 chapters and most of the words after chapter 8.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 28 December 2008
Learn to love the water and do it with ease

A couple of years ago I joined the gym against my better judgement. I started by doing yoga as there were three classes a week so I felt I got my moneys worth. I then discovered as one of the few blokes in the class that I was not strong enough to hold certain poses.I went to the very nice pool and started doing a few lengths of the breast stroke.

I considered myself an average to good swimmer but I only do the breast stroke.I started on twenty lengths then built up to as much as an hour in which I could do a mile or 81 lengths.

As I watched other swimmers overtaking me I realised I was an average to poor swimmer but satisfied myself by thinking that maybe the people who use the pool and hammer up and down doing lengths are a self selecting group of good swimmers.

I then toyed with the idea of learning the crawl. I can do one length by sheer willpower and strenght and mainly holding my breath.

I signed up for some classes and at the same time started reading total immersion.At first I made all the basic mistakes. I would thrash up the pool holding my breath then expire at the end.

She gave me some drills particularly for the legs as I had never ever done a crawl leg movement, When I followed her instructions and relaxed into the stroke it got better.

I now use the ideas from the book on breast stroke that is long stokes and it works. I am now faster and less tired.

It is difficult describing and teaching a skill from a book but it does pay dividends if you keep going back to it and thinking about what you are doing as you swim.

Last night at my swimming class I achieved what I thought I would never do that is two whole lengths .I can do any number of lengths on the breast stroke so if I have got the method right I should be able to apply the same to the crawl.

If I can do two I can do four etc.

I have read a lot of the reviews of this book and yes the techniques could have been shortened to just a few pages. I was not taught any method of swimming and I learnt to swim on my own but adopted a breast stroke style. All revolutionary ideas sound easy but are more difficult to perform particularly if we have learn the wrong method.

When I watch the best swimmers in the pool I see they hardly disturb the water whereas the less able do exaggerated arm and legs movements which cause waves.A good swimmer like any great performer makes it look easy. It is because if looks easy that we think it is easy. If it is the application of a lot of practice and learning a new technique that makes it look so.

Subject to it being over long and prone to hype this is a great book and I will be noting the drills and doing them until I can do eighty lengths of the crawl on a regular basis.

I started out by hating the crawl as it was a chore now I look forward to it as every time I do it I improve. I have still not cracked the breathing problem but I think about it a lot less and think more about my technique.In ten months since I started the crawl I have come a long way but long strokes are the best.I can now do 81 individual lengths with short breaks.

If you want to improve your swimming this is the book for you.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2006
If you can swim already to a basic standard (you swim with your head in the water) but are not quite sure of what the exact technique should be, this is the book for you. The 5 things he outlines to remember in one section, when doing the crawl, are simply superb. I speeded up my crawl stroke by 20-30%, and with using much less effort that before. It takes practice to achieve the results, but the techniques he describe just feel right.
Highly recommended.
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