It can be fun to join a group or club swim for lots of reasons so I never tell a swimmer not to join in a group – even if it’s not a Total Immersion style practice.

However, if you’ve been working on your technique and stroke particularly with the Total Immersion method then we don’t want to undo all the changes you’ve made in your stroke by swimming flat out with bad technique in a group session.

So here are some tips for using your Total Immersion skills and technique in a club swim.

The first thing is to check your swimming ego in. This is the urge to keep up and to swim hard the whole time without engaging your brain and usually at the expense of your technique. Swim hard and fast when it’s appropriate or for as long as you can hold your form.

Consider swimming in a slower lane so that you have more time to think about your stroke and aren’t under pressure to keep up.

Use the warm up as a tune up for your stroke. Actively swim slower, count strokes per length, work through some easier focal points to do with posture, balance and streamlining.  A common mistake I see is swimmers hammering through a warm up without any attention to their form and are then tired half way through the main set.

It’s always worth having a go at drills that are given even if they seem completely counter to what you’ve been taught by the Total Immersion method.

See what they do for you and your stroke.

Experience drills that don’t help you or learn a new drill that does.

Identify how they don’t help your stroke so you can feel and experience bad technique.

Always do the drills with your brain engaged and with one focal point at a time.

Even if the drills are not Total Immersion specific you can still apply some focal points that you know so that you’re continuing to imprint movements and learning.

During the main set work as hard or as easy as is right for you and your stroke.  But always engage your brain and swim mindfully not mindlessly.

Swim each length with a focal point for your stroke

Count strokes per length so it keeps you mindful and attentive of your stroke.

If the group is swimming hard then you can monitor your form by how well you’re maintaining your strokes per length (SPL).  See if you’re able to hold your strokes per length as the reps get faster and longer.


Common group set How to make it TI like
Warm Up 5 x 100 swim 5 x 100 With 1 focal point per 25

  • 1. Bubbles out the nose and swim calm
  • 2. and 3 Alternate laser beam and magic walnut
  • 4. and 5 Alternate magic walnut and 5’ o’clock-7 o’clock rotation
  • 2 x 100 as 25 drill/25 swim (catch up)
  • 2 x 100 as 25 drills/25 swim (scull)
  • 2 x 100 as 25 exaggerate your patient lead arm – hold it out till the other elbow gets wet, 25 swim maintaining patient lead arm.
  • 1 x 100 as 25 scull, 25 swim: focal point arms to tracks
  • 1 x 100 as 25 scull, 25 swim focal points arms to targets
  • Reflect: How does sculling help or hinder body position, balance, rotation
Main Set



20 x 100 @ CSS (critical swim speed/threshold) with 15 sec rest
  • 5 x 100 with a focal point. Monitor split times.
  • 5 x 100 with tempo trainer at constant tempo. Count and monitor SPL and split times. Are you maintaining?
  • 5 x 100 with a different focal point. How does that affect SPL and split times.
  • 5 x 100 without tempo trainer. Can you maintain the same SPL and split times
Cool down 200 as 25 free/25 breast/25 free/25 back
  • 25 free smooth and quiet,
  • 25 breast with laser beam head,
  • 25 free lowest stroke count,
  • 25 back with laser beam head.
  • Repeat.
Get changed! Review and Reflect

  • What did you learn about your stroke?
  • What happened during the main set as you got tired?
  • What did you learn from seeing other people swim?