Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Total Immersion Basics: Bambi does the Superman and more!

Summary of Post
Basics of the Total Immersion Freestyle Balancing Workshop, where I got grounded in the core concepts of effortless, fishlike swimming with the Superman Glide, Superman Flutter, Skating and Overswitch (How it all started HERE). I describe how to do all these, aided by (as promised) a hot and willing model!


It wasn't easy finding a volunteer to demonstrate these moves. In my previous post, the lady featured in the 'before TI' video only agreed on condition of total anonymity. Fortunately, Bambi auditioned for my photo shoot for this post (juicy details HERE).

Superman Glide
From a standing position, take a deep breath, push off the wall and glide like Superman! Relax your whole body: neck, head, shoulders and arms. Head should look directly down (not ahead!). Arms should be in front, hanging loosely at about 30 deg, and fingers totally relaxed. Your chest, which is filled with air, is what keeps your torso afloat. Your legs and arms - attached to opposite sides of the torso - balance each other. Try moving your arms up and feel how your legs drop. To keep your legs from dropping, lower your arms. It's a short drill, because you'll run out of air, and need to stand up to breathe :). Repeat a few times.

Bambi does the Superman Glide

Superman Flutter
Do the Superman Glide, but this time, once you feel yourself slowing down, start to flutter kick (not so violently that you churn the surface of the water) and go as far as your breath allows. Focus on being totally relaxed and feel how your body moves through the water. The back of your head should barely break the surface of the water. If it is raised any higher, your legs will also tend to drop (not good).

Start off with a Superman Glide, but slow flutter kicking right away. As soon as you can, rotate your body to 45 degrees and balance there. Shoulders, hips and legs should all be in the same line and not twisted. Head looks down. Relaxxx. The challenge here is to swim forward in a straight line. This is where you can practice awareness of your own body position, by looking back to make sure your legs are kicking correctly (in a way that drives you straight forward). Notice the deeper you drop your torso, your legs automatically raise up, giving your body a more streamlined position (good). Repeat a few times for both sides, until you get the feel of it.

Skating, hands at (jeans) 'pocket' position.

Skating, rotated at 45 degrees. 

Skating One Arm Extended
Do the Skate, and as soon as you feel balanced, extend your arm out at about a 30 degree angle. Experiment with your arm at different depths (the Y-axis) and see how your legs rise and drop as you do this. Also experiment with your arm straight and increasingly outwards (along the X-axis) and observe how your body over-rotates and eventually loses any rotation (and becomes flat). The goal is to find, and remember that 'sweet spot' to aim your arm for when you eventually start stroking. That's the spot where your body will be rotated just right, and your legs not dropping (i.e. dragging), and your entire body generally streamlined. Repeat skating like this on both sides, for three hours (or until you think you got it).

Skating, one arm extended at 30 deg. 

Left to Right: Over-rotated, Just Right (45 deg) and Flat.
Note how arm placement along the  'X-axis' affects body rotation.
Start with the skate and right arm extended, then once balanced, switch over to the left side. It's a hip-driven motion. Rotate your left hip and shoulder to the left, at the same time extending your left arm and letting your right arm sorta fall into pocket position. Just keep doing that until you run out of breath.

To wrap up, even though these are short drills, I found them extremely effective in learning how my body behaves in the water. And repeating them over and over ingrained these positions into 'muscle memory', setting a great foundation for the next steps!

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xo Gracie


  1. Very clever use of the doll and different points of view. Honestly. Much easier to follow than some of the videos I've watched. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Mark glad you found it useful it was such fun to write too!

  2. Love the model you chose for this. Very creative and demonstrative. I hope you do not mind I linked here from one of my recent blog posts :

    1. Thanks! Glad you found enjoyed my use of 'Bambi' as the model. I checked out your blog - LOVE IT!

  3. I never knew my two loves could be combined--Barbie and swimming. I'm sharing with a newbie to TI. It's a great tutorial--thanks!

    1. We love our barbies! Thanks for sharing!


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