22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A good place to start,
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This review is from: Total Immersion (Paperback)
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 : effortless_swimming.com & goswim.com; 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)