I was never an athletic child. I participated in gym class, but I was always the kid who ducked when the ball came near me. The idea of team sports terrified me. I did try individual sports, like ice skating and karate, which I was decent at, but I never continued at a competitive level.
Swimming was always something I enjoyed doing for fun. I took lessons when I was about five, when I learned the basics. I swam with my friends every summer at our town’s pool club, but I never swam any actual laps or joined the swim team. I enjoyed diving and joined the diving team one summer because I thought flipping and twisting in the air was awesome. But my actual “swimming” was sort of a combination of diving practice and what I like to call “interpretive synchronized swimming” (flipping, twisting, and handstand contests and routines with my friends).
I never had any interest in real swimming … until I threw my back out last spring. This happened several times over a very short period of time. Tests determined that I have two degenerating discs in my thoracic spine, which is not normal for someone my age. Doctors suspect that it was caused by a combination of a car accident I had years ago and carrying my babies in the baby carrier. I actually carried my little one until she was 17 months old.
Physical therapy was not a possibility because it was not covered by insurance at the time, nor was chiropractic treatments or acupuncture. The doctor said I had to strengthen the muscles or I would keep injuring myself. She said swimming was the only exercise I could safely do.
So off to the local Y I went. I jumped in the pool and somehow “swam” 25 yards without passing out. I literally had to catch my breath for a full minute. The lifeguards all focused on me, ready to jump in and save me since my “freestyle” actually resembled a person flailing around trying not to drown. This was not going to work.
Once I got home I scoured the Internet, looking for answers. That’s how I was introduced to the Total Immersion (TI) method. On amazon.com, I saw many books and DVDs on this method. After reading several reviews and comments, I decided to give the DVD Easy Freestyle Swimming and the book Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster, and Easier, both by Terry Laughlin (but with co-author John Delves on the latter) a try.