Perpetual Motion Freestyleby Terry Laughlin
See highlights from a six part lecture given by Total Immersion's Head Coach Terry Laughlin about how they developed their Perpetual-Motion freestyle stroke.
Six months after ‘retiring’ from swimming, Terry began coaching at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point on Long Island. There he realized that technique was the most significant factor in swimming success and—though he’d had no formal training in stroke mechanics—sought to do as much teaching as coaching.
In February 1973, at the Metropolitan Collegiate Championships (the same meet at which he’d felt like a failure in the pool just a year earlier) Terry’s swimmers won 9 of 16 events, breaking Metropolitan records in each by large margins. Though he was still only 21--the youngest coach in the NCAA—Terry received the honor of being named Coach of the Year.
Terry coached three college and two USA Swimming club teams from 1973 to 1988, improving each team dramatically. In that time, he developed 24 national champions at all strokes and distances—the first national champions produced by four different teams! His swimmers also earned world rankings.
In 1989, Terry founded Total Immersion and turned his focus from working with young, accomplished swimmers to adults with little experience or skill. Terry and a small group of pioneering coaches began to teach a ‘fishlike’ style of swimming that emphasized ‘slippery’ bodylines instead of muscling the water with arms and legs.
In 1996, Terry described this innovative way of swimming in Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way to Swim Better, Faster, and Easier. Inside of a year, word of mouth had propelled it to become the top-selling book on swimming. Two decades later it continues to outsell all other swimming books by a wide margin.