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Total Immersion: A Revolutionary Way to Swim Better and Faster
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Total Immersion: A Revolutionary Way to Swim Better and Faster

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,946 ratings  ·  173 reviews
A self-teaching programme for all levels. Step-by-step skill drills are provided which include how to: improve strokes to speed up conditioning; eliminate drag and create more propulsion with less energy; burn off fat through swimming; and use dry-land exercises to improve results in the water.
Paperback, 286 pages
Published August 2nd 1996 by Fireside Books
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  1,946 ratings  ·  173 reviews

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Brendan Newport
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
TI hasn't really made it to the UK. Here we have the Shaw Method, similar, but more focused on neck position. There are few swimmers who adopt this technique.

I've been swimming since schooldays but only in the last few years swum with the front crawl or 'freestyle'. For over forty years of my life two lengths front crawl was my absolute limit, leaving me a wet dish-rag with tunnel vision at the end. Trying to swim further and slowing down wouldn't be any different, I would just flounder and sink
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sports
Surprisingly (seriously - as in, wow, I didn't expect that) gratifying and effective, with the Goodreads caveat that this is a how-to, instructional book (again, to be clear, it's not literature and there's no real story going on here), and I wouldn't recommend for anyone who isn't looking for some help with their (duh) swimming. Conversely, I can't remember ever having read a how-to book that generated such immediate results (which, frankly, is kind of cool).

Throw me into the category of folks
Dec 30, 2009 rated it liked it
This book is a little redundant at times, which is annoying, but the techniques make sense and they've helped me cut my stroke count already. I definitely need to practice this more, but I can see why people who "get it," love it. My one criticism is I think a lot of what he describes is so visual - more photos or sketches would really help. I didn't fully understand what he was talking about until I watched some of the Total Immersion videos on YouTube, so I'd recommend doing that as you're rea ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It is a long-running joke in my life that "I am such a nerd, I learned to swim from a book." it's not just a joke, it is true, and this is that book. All of the things that come intuitively to some people (like balance and coordination) can be very confusing to those of us who don't just naturally "get it". Years of gym teachers telling me "kick harder!" only led to frustration. I needed someone to explain more thoroughly, and give me ways to think about my body that would help me visualize it b ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
I learned from this book to practice only pleasure and never practice struggle. "Fitness is what happens to you when you're practicing."

I totally enjoyed reading this book and teaching myself a new way to do the freestyle stroke. Laughlin really breaks it down by skills that build on one another beautifully. It seemed important to swim each drill in the order presented before reading to far into the book. You can tell he has a great deal of teaching experience. I was relieved when he said sinker
Eric Flynn
Apr 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have been swimming since I could walk; some of my earliest childhood memories are from swimming pools where my mother took me for lessons. I continued taking classes and working out in the pool through college. So, imagine my surprise when along came a book that takes you all the way back to the shallow end, so to speak. I am now in the process of unlearning all the "right ways" and learning the "better ways" or as Laughlin puts it, "how to swim like a fish." After studying how the best swimme ...more
Felix Dacumos
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
The method used in this book is an excellent method for beginner swimmers. While I found the drills extremely effective, I felt at times that this book was too wordy. Sometimes I felt like the author kept on trying to prove a point that the old ways of learning how to swim were incorrect. I get it. I get that they were inefficient, but that did not need to be repeated multiple times.

However, if you can get past the reiterations of the old ways, this is truly a great book for beginner swimmers. I
Daniel Frank
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
I really appreciate the intention behind this book and teaching program. As someone who grew up hating swimming largely due to poor technique, I think the stroke taught by Total Immersion is wonderful.

Unfortunately, whether it was intentional to sell lessons or just due to a lack of thought, the book and the accompanying DVD have awful pedagogy and make it very difficult to actually learn.
Justin Cramer
80% motivation 20% information

I like the drills found in this book. I like how they are explained. However it feels like this book spends too much time on everything other than the drills themselves. More pictures would have been nice.
Aug 08, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very helpful book for people who want to swim more efficiently.
Jason Tondre
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars out of 5. I came across Mr Laughlin’s work at the most convenient of times. I had just started to attempt “swimming” laps at my local 24 Hour Fitness. Coming from a decent runner’s background (5-8 mile clips) I thought I could jump into the pool and knock out 20 minutes with no problem. The first couple of sessions were humbling to say the least, as I could barely make it 50 yards (2 lengths of the pool) without feeling like my heart was going to explode. I figured in the short term I ...more
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
What just happened?! 1. Bought this yesterday 2. Read to "Drill #2" #3 Revolutionized my strokes within 10 min in the pool 4. Swam laps for 30 min = felt like I had just napped. I am shocked and amazed how this book can turn you into a fish, gliding lap after lap without fatigue. It's unhuman. "Leave the struggle" it says...um yeah!!!! These techniques have significantly changed my ability to push through stamina barriers, and enjoy the playground I love the best. The book teaches you to use mom ...more
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
I've been a swimmer all my life and a couple ideas from this book really made sense to me even though I would have never thought of them myself. I scanned and skimmed to pick out the relevant information - to me, the author was very redundant. I wish they would have shown actual photos of swimmers in the water, performing some of the skill drills. If you're a visual learner and/or a beginning swimmer, some of the concepts might be a little hard to picture. ...more
Victor Huynh
Apr 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gains
Solid content overall, looked into TI in the first place because of Tim Ferris.
There was a lot of crossover concepts from improving in sports and swimming, which makes sense considering that swimming has more technique that meets the eye.
I thought the information was good overall, albeit some fluff here and there, and would recommend this book to swimmers of all skills - I think the third part was the most insightful but the first part I will be referring to as I progress in my journey.
As a down
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Firstly I should say that I haven't tried the majority of the exercises/drills in the book as it had to be returned to the library before I could. Also, I was already slightly familiar with and practising TI before I picked the book up.

TI itself is great and I can completely recommend. It massively helped my swimming and made it much more enjoyable.

However, the book isn't good. There are many, many chapters 'selling' TI to you, which is why it took me so long to read and I had to get it renewed
Nov 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
Good overview of Immersion Swimming technique. A little bit too verbose though. I feel like this would be good book for someone who wants to get a PhD of TI swimming, but more compact, nutshell book would be better to get a general understanding of the idea.

At the end of the day, the most effective way to learn is to spend a few hours with coach and practice, practice, practice.

A few good resources:
- https://tim.blog/2008/08/13/total-imm...
- TI videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC8ZZ...
- t
Mindaugas Mozūras
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm not a comfortable swimmer. I know just enough not to drown. I've heard about Total Immersion through this podcast episode and became immediately interested: https://tim.blog/2017/10/29/terry-lau.... If it helped Tim Ferriss overcome a lifelong fear of water and swimming, maybe it could help me.

The techniques outlined in this book make sense. They've explained in a manner that makes sense and build on top of each other. The only knock against it - the book is a bit redundant at times.

I want t
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not really sure how to rate this book, as it is a skills-teaching book (there were a few typographical errors, such as the numbering of skills sets in Chapter 8, that prompted me to dock one star). I just finished reading through the book and what remains is to practice the drills set forth in Chapter 8 over the next few months (years?), as time and means allow. Only time will tell how effective the writing is at teaching the concept of Total Immersion (TI) swimming—which I did enjoy reading ...more
Patrik Bystrom
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
While the swimming techniques described in this book are revolutionary and helpful for swimmers of all levels, the structure of the book is confusing. Furthermore, it lacks enough illustrations in the later chapters and much of the book is repetitive in its marketing of the method rather than concrete advice.

In addition it pre-dates the DVD, in which some of the techniques were improved. The fact the book is somewhat outdated makes it a poor supplement to the DVD. I am going to rely on the film
Harry Lee
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wellness
An essential for me. This book really is for everyone, never too late to discover the real way to swim freestyle. Freestyle has always been a struggle for me. I stopped swimming classes at 8 years old because I was last in the race (think Eric the Eel). For years, I could only swim half a lap on freestyle. For years the only style I swam was breaststroke. As cheesy as it sounds, Total Immersion changed my swimming life. (Can't say I have mastered it yet, but I can swim laps on freestyle!) ...more
Luis Romero Plasencia
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book helped me adopt swimming with ease, something I was totally reluctant to do, but after hearing from this technique from one of my biohacking gurus, Tim Ferris, I opened to it and thankfully I found this. It is a true gem for those interested in learning to swim and adopting this great sport in your lifestyle, which I now enjoy a lot because of its energy-efficient and flow-inducing approach.
Stephanie Cha
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m new to swimming, but was brave enough to begin learning as an adult, with this book as my primary aid. It has opened up a whole, pleasurable world of “fishlike” movements. For the first time, by using these skills and concepts, I am able to feel effortless, lean, and comfortable in the water. I would recommend watching demonstration videos to accompany the descriptions.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Coming off a recent knee injury I read this book to learn proper technique. I thought the analogies the author used were great such as a ship's hull and references to other sports. It uses data and anecdotal experience to back up the claims that 70% of swimming is mechanics and 30% fitness. Good read. ...more
Mar 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only an excellent guide to becoming a more efficient swimmer, but surprisingly maybe the best thing I’ve read about how to think about practice and developing a skill. I found myself constantly thinking about how to apply concepts to music or even to my work, in addition to their applications in becoming a better swimmer.
Nirav Mehta
I am a beginner level swimmer who started learning quite late in adult life. Came across the concept of TI in a Tim Ferris blog and picked up the book. Conceptually, TI seems to make a lot of sense and I am sure it will make a difference to how I swim.

But the book was extremely tedious and difficult to read. TI as a technique gets 4/5 but the book gets 2/5 from me.

Firstly, it is extremely verbose and spends the first 7 chapters just selling the concept to you, and only in Chapter 8 do the dril
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
It takes a bit of mining to rack up the gems of knowledge but it works! It's a pity there isn't much variety in information on the other swimming strokes. Nonetheless, the essence of the basic form of the freestyle is applicable across the board. ...more
MR Andrew
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book.

Flow is Total Immersion at many levels. Helping the physical, emotional and mental states through the sense of evolution and revolution in the water. Looking forward to experiencing more and more in many crossings, adventures and practice lengths. Thankyou Terry
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book I was barely swimming 800 meters. Pay attention, do not rush and you will definitely have results. Very glad to my coach to share this book with me. A useful book for beginners and amateurs.
Emma Waldron
Found this quite difficult to read. It's very technical and not at all bedtime reading. I didn't even finish it, i gave up :-( ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Totally changed how I thought of swimming.

Descriptions in the book were pretty good, but more pictures or getting the video probably speeds things up and sharpens understanding significantly.
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