Testimonies

from Mediterra Swim Students around the world

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

​At the early age of 62, I purchased the TI DVD set and learned to swim free-style. After swimming for a couple of years in Oaxaca, Mexico, where TI coaches are not available, I felt the need to seek help.​

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

​As time went by, I began to enjoy swimming but I was not satisfied with my swimming efficiency. I knew I was slow, and I also knew that I could do better. I could sometimes hit a reasonable [stroke count], but it was associated with a lot of effort, and could not be sustained for more than 25 meters. ​

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​TI is not the only source for swimming education, and I utilized several. TI stood out in the way it broke down the instruction to small manageable bites.​

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

​I found Coach Mat through his blog, and being an ex-engineer, I was attracted to his engineering-like approach to swimming.
We had several interesting discussions on the mechanics of the sport.​

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

​Understanding the mechanics, I could be more intelligent in modifying and improving my technique. I gradually improved my SPL and under coach Mat’s guidance found the EASE in each improvement.​

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

​I swim faster and with more ease, driven by Coach Mat and TI’s priorities on balance and streamlining.​

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

​Coach Mat has an excellent ability to describe a motion or a d​rill in exact detail. When I have a good mental picture of the expectation, I find it much easier to learn the skill. Even if at times the learning does not happen immediately, patient persistence brought that “Aha” moment, as the skill clicked into place. With time, even the more philosophical approach of mindful swimming becomes understandable. The improved technique, the emphasis on ease, and increased mindfulness will improve your swimming, and much more importantly your enjoyment.

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

​I was working for about three years before I met Coach Mat [asking] for help.​

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

The traditional teaching process was the obstacle. It gave me no joy, no results. It taught me how to struggle. ​

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​Swimming without struggling. Swimming for pleasure and joy.​

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

​Competence. He is very calm and shows great passion for his work.​

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

Every improvement I’ve ever experienced is due to Coach Mat and TI (and myself, of course, because you must be ready to learn). Particularly now I know how calmness and serenity help you learn better and so swim better. That’s why I now focus myself in releasing the resistance in my whole body before swimming. And it is so good to combine swimming with yoga, pilates, tai chi, meditation.​

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

A lot! Honestly, at the beginning I couldn’t even imagine it! And even if I swim for myself and for joy (never been a racer), I’m so happy when people tell me how good at swimming I am! One day I surprisingly found myself telling “You’ve learned how to swim, so you will learn how to live”. Because life is about learning. Wonderful learning.​

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

Swimming helps you get fit and keep fit. But the secret is that you develop joy in swimming and you will bring that in your day-to-day life. Joy brings clarity and you will feel better and better. When your mind is clear you feel peaceful and decisions are easier to make. My body changed a lot since TI because before I was simply moving my body in the water while now when I swim  it’s like to perform gym in the water. That’s a very big difference.
 
You are so lucky to have Coach Mat in Oregon! We want him back to Europe!

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

I purchased the TI training videos online, worked with them on my own for about two months, and then I felt the need for more personal help to better understand the TI principles and to practice them in a more systematic way. The progress went incomparably faster after I got into Mat’s online training program.

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

Thinking backwards, I now realize that there were much larger obstacles at that time than I could understand. At that point I thought that I was too slow as a swimmer and spent too much energy producing too little results (propulsion and speed). I now realize that I was struggling with huge balance and stability issues that I could not see until the TI made it very clear to me.

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

Two things made it very attractive to me: The TI’s philosophy to be very economical about spending energy, and yet producing very powerful movement in the water. It was important to me as I started swimming when I was 45 and I was not getting much stronger physically at that age, but still wanted to make swimming faster and more enjoyable. The second thing – TI opened a door for me to swim in open water. No other approach in swimming in the past ever gave me the confidence and endurance to do that.

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

Mat absolutely loves what he does. I am a business coach in my professional life, and I see a lot of things in common in our approaches with Mat, each of us in our own areas of expertise. Mat gets excited to see the success of his students, I saw it in his eyes as he gives feedback and inspires people, and this is extremely important in the learning process. There was an episode in the open sea when we swam as a group and hit a point where waves and current got stronger than anything I had before. At that point Mat turned to our group and took a few moments to say things that gave people the confidence that they can make that swim a safe and enjoyable experience. That was an extremely important moment of that day.

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

I greatly improved my body position in water, which gave me much better balance, and as the result – much easier swimming. Another pleasing improvement is the confidence and ability to swim in open water – something I dreamed about before.

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

In addition to what I mentioned earlier, I decreased the number of strokes I take in 25 meter pool by 4 strokes in a few months, bringing it into my “Green Zone” stroke count.

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

TI changes the entire perspective of how the forward movement in water is generated – it is not about pushing water back, but it is about piercing the water and propelling the body forward. This will be a wonderful discovery for everyone who will practice TI. In addition to swimming techniques that are thoroughly introduced in Mat’s [Master Class 1K] course, participants will be able to develop the ability to concentrate and hold the attention on body position in water for longer time. My ability to concentrate and pay attention increased dramatically during the practice using the TI method, and the technique has improved because of that.

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

Five years.

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

The obstacle I faced was as philosophic as it was physical. Other swim coaches taught that swimming involves great amounts of physical effort to the point of exhaustion and pain. I could never accept this dreary version of swimming.​

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​It’s not so much Total Immersion that I’m attracted to. It’s the particular coach who can translate the body knowledge in a way that resonates with me.

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

When he demonstrated something on dry land I could see he could swim in a way I wanted to swim:with fluidity, and it seemed, joy.

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

Within the first ten minutes of the first workshop I took from him, I learned the two beat kick. This improved my balance and also gave me awareness of my entire body while swimming. Prior to that, I felt disassociated from my legs.

Once I dis-habituated  myself from the four beat and six beat kick, which felt like chaotic flailing, I experienced the stretch from my fingertips, down though my arm, my spine, my leg and into my toes. Calmness ensued. And grace. Then, I could attend to other aspects of my stroke.

And so I learned at the first workshop with Mat how to learn. I asked him,  How do I ignore all the other stuff I want to work on? And he said to put those very pressing things on the back burner. Know they are there. But focus on one thing. 

And who doesn’t want to come off as graceful? Strangers have come up to say my swimming is beautiful. That’s cool, but what’s even better is to have an outlet for the learning of an activity that is fun and feels good.

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

Mat taught me how to teach myself. An essential feature of TI is learning how to focus the attention. A teacher gives you a focal point and after that it’s up to you to feel what you are doing, assess, correct, try again with the feedback your body gives you and move on to the next focal point. I am becoming the swimmer I want to be, focal point by focal point.

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

My mind is connected to my body and my body is connected to the water. This means everything to me. Before learning from Mat, I did not feel connected to certain parts of my body, nor did I feel supported my the water. Every time I get in the water I learn something new, about me and the water. Before I met Mat, I was repeating the same old patterns of movement and thought for years.

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

About 5 years. During that time I was trying to learn by myself. If I have to summarize those years of swimming with a one word I would say ‘struggle’. I had to rest for every 50 meters.

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

I was becoming breathless and tired. No matter how I try to ‘imitate’ the elite swimmers in videos I was unsuccessful at the pool. My stroke count did not change no matter how much efforts I put in.​

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​At that time there was ‘sweet spot’ drill. I was able to do that drill without any coach assistance just by watching videos. That gave me confidence. I thought that I could do it. Then I learned about ‘patient arm’ and as soon as I apply it my stroke count reduced. Then I decided to find a TI Coach in my country. For my luck (and for my other TI friends in Turkey) Coach Mat was close to us.

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

​At the workshops that I attended I had two roles as a student and as an assistant. As a student I enjoyed him explaining why’s of every drill. His way of teaching has a taste of self learning capability. His way of video analysis, explanations and suggestions encourages students for self learning and improving by themselves following the workshop. This is like rather than giving a fish teaching how to fish. As an assistant on the other hand I had a chance to observe his instant solutions to students experiencing varying difficulties. With my basic knowledge I was able to show and help students but as soon as the student faced different problem I was blocked and did not know what to say or do. But As soon as I turn back to Mat and ask about it he would create a solution right a way and propose student specific drill. I am amazed of his creativity and improvisations. He is inborn problem solver. Even when we have problems with our Tempo Trainer or underwater video camera he is ready to solve. May be because of his engineering background he is very comfortable at problem solving.

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

If we compare swimming with an iceberg I was able to discover the massive part hiding under the water with Mat. Even in casual conversations with one sentence or an example related to the current context, it enhanced my understanding. Besides swimming technique I was able to enlightened and started look differently to the water than what was before. If I have to give an example I can say that I recovered from my deep sea fear with his one sentence in his blog saying that “if there is fear then there is courage”. The day before my 7.2 kilometer Meis-Kaş swim we had a short swim session in the rough water and after his explanations now I enjoy rough water more than calm water. And his final sentence after the summer open water camp saying that “We showed you that the sea is not a dangerous environment for you”, now I look at the sea different than before. I am addicted to his blog writings.

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

Especially completing his Training Plan 5K program I am now able to swim much longer distances with much more ease. Just to give a fresh example. Last week I finished the 5K program. I decided to redo the same program see if there is an improvement. With my first tempo practice I have a note saying that I had a hard time finishing. The distances were 800 + 1,800 and I had to rest about a minute in between repeats. Yesterday I did the same practice with distance 1,280 + 2,880 meters with about 20 secs rest in between repeats. My comfortable tempo was 1.25. It is now 1.15.

After practicing with several of his ‘101 Focal Points’ [a resource in our online Dojo library] in my long distance swims I can recall focal points by observing my swimming and apply right at the moment. It is a kind of composing music. I am able to compose my swims. It is not just swimming any more more than swimming it is a kind of creative action.

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

Again with the Training Plan 5K program, in 15 weeks I gained 2 kg of muscle mass, and I don’t want to leave the pool after the practice. I don’t have any special talent, I am sitting at an office desk the whole day. So any body can first enjoy the water and swim longer distances without getting tired and as a byproduct get fit.

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

3 years.

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

Not knowing what I was doing wrong [in my own practice].

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​The effortlessness. It just makes sense all the way. I love the focal points and being immersed with what I am doing and learning and practicing.

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

Mat is very knowledgeable and has a very systematic approach to teach body proprioception so that you can be your own coach. He is good at working on and detecting faults, weak spots, and incorrect actions.

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

He helped me to realize that my left side is weaker and how I was doing things completely different than the more efficient right side. He helped me improve my incorrect breathing.

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

I am still working on my improvements!

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

It was after nearly a year of swimming (not continuous) and 62 years of living . Swimming was just a boring opportunity to do some urgent needed body-work. Most of the time I did breaststroke. I would do freestyle (if it may be called so) for not much more than 25 meters.

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

Obstacle was freestyle generally. I felt swimming was a necessary but boring activity. My goal was to achieve 30 Cooper points weekly… with some points coming from breaststroke swimming. ​

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​Some former students presented me tiny booklet “Pilloud: Erfolgreich Kraulschwimmen” One point hit me at once: They started first drills on the back(!?) From this point of view it’s sad that this is not taught any more. But in my youth I learned a little how to play chess from an impressive book from Tarrasch. The first one who started to teach playing chess with only three figures. This booklet seemed to be the Tarrasch of Freestyle Swimming. There in I found some links to TI and the real journey started. ​And working in freestyle swimming flashed from boring to highly interesting. TI Head Coach Terry’s book followed, and reading the TI Forum, trying to lead myself. And first improvements came fairly quickly.

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

​My wife and I were not sure, where to spend a late summer holiday week. I found a Mediterraswim.com link and Mat was free for this week and so kind from first email’s start.

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

That’s hard to say. My first lessons as student fell into the great felt time when I could go to aerobic freestyle swimming (longer terms than 6-10 minutes). Most impressive in our first lessons were the following things:

– Mat really, really is the kind guy I hoped after our emails.

– Mat had answers to all swimming questions I could even think about; or at least he had some overwhelming ideas how to work on and find the answers myself…

– Mat logged all failures or inabilities as ‘just data’ and [treated them as] welcomed feedback to guide my improvement. He guided me into the best mood before, while and after our lessons, whatever happened.

– Odd: My MOST pleasing moment ended in coughing at the pool’s edge. It came this year when Mat coached me in an online training course. I had to swim some laps with faster SR than I like (around 1.20 seconds). At one moment it hit me: My whole body felt gently wrapped in silk. GREAT!!! It has been so great that I forgot to breath, choked some liters and had to stop to cough. THIS made even more addicted to TI than I’ve been before. Tried to reach that state more often. Sometimes it happens in parts, seldom and too short around the whole body. But it’s so worthy that I’ll write down some of my experienced steps sometime in near future…

– My wife and I joined two different weeks in Turkey with open water camps. It was the first open water time for me. Impressive how Mat’s suggestions always fit my situation 100% and most times led to further discoveries. He always watched over our well being in unknown places.

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

Swimming never has been boring anymore. [Expanding] from 25 meters to some kilometers is a real change. I found a recovery stroke (in a ‘long’ swim I’m now able to change pace and, if necessary, I can slow down and go on without stops). With Mat’s help my technique improved well enough to have be accepted to and complete my TI Coach training successfully.

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

It turns out that swimming is a complicated, but highly interesting and good activity which will refresh your mind and body. Take any [swim achievement] goal and find the enjoyable path to go (or swim) toward it.

About how long were you working on your swimming skill before you approached Coach Mat for help?

More or less 3 years. Trying to learn TI-swimming from books and videos.

Before discovering TI, how would you describe the obstacle you personally faced in trying to learn to swim better?

Before TI Swimming I found swimming quite boring. I used to swim regularly for health reasons, but one hour of swimming felt very long. Mainly I swam breaststroke; one lap of 25 m freestyle already was very exhausting, I was just struggling. ​

What primary thing attracted you to the Total Immersion approach for your particular needs?

​The method. I immediately felt attracted by Terry Laughlin’s clear theory about swimming and the small, intelligent steps (drills) to bring it into practice.

What primary feature attracted you particularly to Mediterra and TI Coach Mat’s instruction? 

​He is a very kind person and works patiently with all students: experienced or beginners, young ones and old ones, male or female. I am a 63 year old woman with some physical problems, and it felt so good, that Mat took my problems as serious as the problems of the younger and much more athletic students. 

Under Coach Mat’s guidance, what was one of the most pleasing improvements you experienced?

After 2.5 years of practicing slow, exact movements, suddenly my swimming became quick. This really has not been my main purpose. Suddenly it happened. It really felt great. 

Or, asked in another way – how have your swimming capabilities changed since you have been guided by Coach Mat and TI?

Now I can swim freestyle in a very relaxed way. Even in open water – more than 1,5 km- and I am not disturbed by changing circumstances.

What pleasing changes (in body, mind, skill, etc) would you encourage another adult like you to expect from training with Coach Mat and TI for a season of time?

When I started with Coach Mat, I was more or less like a turtle. Now I am used to a long and slim bodyline. The mental aspect of keeping a focal point during practice attracted me from the beginning and this makes, that I never felt board during my swimming since then. I enjoy, that I clearly know, with which part of the stroke I am dealing with, and that I have the calmness of mind, to clearly observe what I am doing. To me it feels like meditation in movement. Really cool!