From Total Submersion to Total Immersion – my personal journey to learm to swim

My dad describes his (and therefore my) style of swimming as “farm dam”. (Head above water, and doing whatever gets you forward.)
So how do I land in a relationship with a triathlete with a long distance swimming background of note? (12 Robben Island crossings and first SA women to swim Rotnest) Well there is not much difference between our repective endurnace sports actually. Especially fringe sports. There is always a small, close core community and then a larger periphery of weekend warriors. I watched a few long distance swims and knew that this was beyond me. Certainly the cold was!
But what about this swimming thing?
How do you start something that seems so natural to others and so foreign to you? A few tentative questions did not give the answers I knew were out there until I met Georgie of Total Immersion SA. “Problem with breathing”: “no issue, we will get you sorted in no time…” came the responses.
And so I enrolled on the intro course in Jan.
The group was 9 strong and I was certainly the weakest link with no real swimming experience other than I could not breathe and generally struggled. I expected that I would be asked to leave the show at any moment doing the walk (or paddle) of shame.
10 hours of drills in the pool was all it would take.
Or so the pre course pamphlet advertised. We actually spent about half our time talking about the correct way of doing drills and the other half in the pool doing them. I was cold a lot during that weekend. Not as cold as the triathlete woman who was shivvering constantly. The hot chocolate guy made quite a lot of money out of us!
(I am not being entirely fair if I don’t mention that the course was actually fun and I certainly learnt something new. Without the course I would not have gotten to where I am now with my swimming. TI is a good foundation. The best I have come across.)
The probelm is that we all left the course having learnt some new drills but not really knowing how to swim! I practiced the drills in the Sea Point pavilion (as I don’t have a gym membership) often spending my sessions in the baby pool. Glides, one arm glides, supermans etc etc. No real swimming. I asked for more assistance and help as our instructor was many hours away and help was and continues to be sporadic.
I persisted and eventually migrated to the Long Street indoor pool for more drills as the temperatures became colder. I searched youtube and found some demos. I borrowed Terry Laughlin’s book and finally Georgie sent me a copy of his DVD. Now six months later I can put a decent length together feeling a little like a swimmer. Pretty much like a new runner would feel after their first 5km: out of breath and wondering how anybody can ever run a marathon… let alone the Comrades.
The thrill of learning a new skill and constantly scanning your body and going by feel in this very technical activity is a real joy and I will continue.
For those that want to learn to swim and have read through all the rambelings above I can only recomend TI as THE way to learn to swim properly. I can now see who can swim with ease and who just thrashes about in the pool and I know which one I don’t want to be. That alone makes me continue along this path. My big critisism is the lack of follow up. I am the only one of our group who continues to practice the drills. After the course I was pretty much left to my own devices.
I guess this is like any tuition in that it can only provide you with a limited amount of skills and then the rest is up to you!
 There is at least one challenge that I have my eye one. And challenges keep us going!

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