Becoming a Total Immersion Coach: the Application

Well, I finally got around to submitting my application to apply for TI coach training. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while and after talking to Coach Shinji about it, he was very supportive and thought I would make a good coach. So I went on the Total Immersion website, found the Become a TI coach page, and submitted my application.
Here is my application below – wish me luck in getting accepted and I hope to enter the coach training session in Coronado in September!
Briefly tell your “TI Story” and how you became interested in teaching TI.
I started triathlon back in 2002 with Team in Training. I was at a low point in my life and felt that nothing was moving forward, and I was learning nothing new in my career. So I tried something physical even though previous attempts at running had left me with sore knees and nothing but frustration. Still, I chose to get back not only into running but also swimming and biking.
When I started, I still had preconceived notions about training from my past adventures with running and weightlifting, and also from friends and family. I started with TnT training and that got me to the Pacific Grove Triathlon, but it also left me sore and in pain.
After Pacific Grove, I was determined to get myself into racing shape. I made a bunch of friends in the triathlon community in the Bay Area and they seemed to race numerous times a year with little or no injury. Certainly the frequency at which they raced was amazing to me; if triathlon and its individual elements were reportedly so destructive to the human body, then how were they able to race so often and be so fast?
In 2003, I took my first TI seminar in search of ways to increase my swim speed. I was regularly swimming Masters, but somehow, hearing the commands shouted by the coach really weren’t effective enough – there wasn’t enough individual attention at what I needed in particular. I also dug into several books on swimming, searching for those elusive secrets to allow me to swim faster.
The seminar was good, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t reinforce what I was supposed to do after the seminar. I got a bit better but didn’t get much better after that. I fell back into the patterns of my Masters class and my performance overall was a bit better, but wasn’t consistently advancing beyond a certain point. I certainly didn’t know how to improve from there except to cycle my arms faster.
I got through 6 Ironmans and a few Alcatraz crossings but my speed had plateaued, or even see sawed faster and slower. And through it all, my shoulders were getting sore from trying to cycle my arms faster for a longer period of time.
After my last Ironman in 2009, I had a new baby and decided not to race triathlon for a while. Due to the time requirements of bike training, I elected to solely focus on improving my running and swimming, both of which I felt I could achieve better results in shorter workout times than biking which can require hours on the road. However, without the stress for preparing for a race, I could just focus solely on mastering the details of swimming by drilling for as much and as long as I need to.
Around the same time, someone sent me a link to Shinji’s Youtube video and that brought me back to TI:

I was further elated to find out that he coached individually and was located in the SF Bay area where I was! When I started Ironman training, I worked with a popular Bay area coach named Michael McCormack. I learned the value of having more individualized coaching versus working in a group. Mike didn’t focus on swim training but now I found a TI coach in my backyard and was excited to engage Shinji and learn how to swim as graceful as he does,
I began with Shinji in late summer of 2009 and devoted my entire swim training to constant drilling, without the stress of race preparation. I was determined to train and retrain my nervous system to move like how Shinji moves, and also as directed by TI concepts. I discovered that my drilling tolerance was about 800-1200 yards, after which my brain, muscles, and nervous system got tired and refused to give in to swimming more. I threw my complete trust and devotion to training TI and rebuild my stroke from the ground up.
I saw Shinji monthly and in between I would swim 3-4x per week, picking certain drills and focal points and doing them over and over until I got to some level of mastery. Then I would work on another drill, or different focal points, or increase the difficulty by a little bit, like increasing the stroke rate on my tempo trainer. Slowly but surely over 2 years, and adding in TI Tune Up instruction from Dave Cameron, I was amazed to be swimming with such great ease but yet I was faster than before. Just the other day I jumped back into my Masters swim group and found that, even with rather sedate tempos, I was passing swimmers who were formerly much faster than me.
My personal experiences and successes with TI further reinforced these concepts in my brain:
1. Traditional thinking is often filled with outdated and/or wrong information on training.
2. Individualized coaching is exponentially better than group coaching. Everybody is different; one coaching method or style may work great for some but not for others.
3. We must continue to advance training as time goes on and integrate new discoveries and methods. We cannot remain static in the past.
4. Information that has been trapped within research journals and in the brains of elite coaches must be disseminated to the public in order to help advance their own ability to become better athletes.
5. The right technology can advance training exponentially.
Learning and growing with TI was immensely satisfying, but wasn’t complete. A few years back, I underwent life coaching and discovered that not only did I enjoy learning and growing in life, but I also enjoyed teaching and mentoring as well.
As I advanced in TI, I saw others who were still training in the past, using methods that had been established for decades and were the accepted norms. However, I always saw them reach a certain point where they either got injured or they plateaued in their progress.
This motivated me to learn as much as I could about swimming, trying these techniques on myself and understanding them not just from a theoretical standpoint but from a practical, applied standpoint. Then, when I got to a level of mastery and understanding, my interest grew to want to teach these methods to the community and help spread the word about why the past was mired in training methods that didn’t need to be only ways, but that they were only facets of a host of methods that can be employed in swim training.
I hope that through TI coach training, I can help be more official in my capacity to teach people to become better swimmers in a more structured manner versus being frustrated at their progress.

What aspects of the TI approach do you particularly identify with?

1. Attention to the subtle details and drilling to imprint
2. Training the nervous system instead of just strength and aerobic
3. Breaking with “tradition” and “dogma” to find the best teaching/training methods
4. Recognizing individuality in performance, goals, and skill development

Who do you feel best qualified to teach? What type of swimmer(s)?

Most likely beginners and intermediates, perhaps some advanced who are open to learning.
I am an Ironman triathlete (completed 6 Ironmans) and identify best with the triathlete crowd. I feel very familiar and comfortable with the issues surrounding the swim leg of triathlon and teaching on this subject.
I have concentrated mostly on freestyle up to this point, so teaching freestyle is where I’ll begin.
What are your 3 highest-value reasons for swimming?
1. Learning something new and bringing it to some level of mastery
2. Challenging myself on what my true limits are, and not what other people say they are
3. Solving the neurological puzzle of my body, or mastering the control of my limbs even in water
What are your 3 most important swimming improvement goals.
1. To swim with grace, like Shinji
2. To get faster (of course!)
3. Flawless technique, symmetrical technique
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