My Total Immersion Teacher Training Experience

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This is my account of my experience at the Total Immersion Teacher Training in Minneapolis, MN where I earned the right to be called a Total Immersion Teaching Professional (TITP). I also posted this same blog on the Total Immersion site at This was a CRAZY week for me and I was absolutely exhausted by the end (and you will see why if you make it to the bottom of this post), but it was an awesome experience that I was glad to be a part of.

Before I get started, I would really like to thank Terry Laughlin, Angela Dorris, and Dave Cameron of Total Immersion for believing in my swimming and coaching enough to invite me to the teacher training and for putting on a great training session. I have learned a lot from all of you.

Also, be warned, this is a long blog post. I thought about cutting it down significantly based on the normal rules of blogging but I decided against it. If you make it all the way through…then more power to you! I hope you enjoy.

So here we go:

Saturday, July 31, 2010: I caught a flight in the late afternoon from Seattle to Minneapolis and spent the ridiculous amount of money that they wanted for in-flight wi-fi so that I could work on training plans for my triathletes and work on my website ( It sure makes the time go by on the flights when you can work and surf the net….but they know that and that is why they charge so much. Might have to go on a little rabbit trail and talk about airline costs for a second here. You know they charged me $25 for checking a bag, $10 for internet, they wanted $7 for a sandwich I could make at home (I didn’t buy that), and they wanted to charge $3 for headphones. Do they not know Americans? We are an “all-inclusive” type of country. We love to pay ridiculous package prices for resorts and cruises that include everything all in one price. If you add up the total of all those things I mentioned above it would be about $45. Now, if they had charged me $45 more for my $500 ticket and then given me everything else for “free”, I would probably not complain so much…but I hate being nickled and dimed to death with all of these little fees. Just raise my ticket price a little and give it to me. Am I the only one? Anyway, sorry for the departure from the topic.

I got to Minneapolis around 9:30 pm and caught the shuttle to my hotel in downtown, got settled in the hotel room, had some dinner, went back to the room, and googled a map of the city so I could see where I needed to go the next day. Then it was off to bed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010: The Teacher Training didn’t officially start until 1 pm, but the instructor (Dave Cameron) had informed us about the open water clinic at Lake Nokomis that was being held in the morning and invited us to come help/participate with the clinic. The lake was about 5.5 miles from my hotel and I had no car so I decided to run to the lake and help out with the clinic. I had a pretty decent run down to the lake but was not too fond of the backpack that I had to run with to carry my clothes and swimming gear. It wasn’t too bad though…and the clinic was fun…it was for a group of women that were doing the all women’s triathlon held by the YWCA in Minneapolis. There were probably about 30 or 40 women there and most of them had very little open water or swimming experience.

After the clinic was over, I caught a ride with Dave over to the Uptown YWCA for the start of the teacher training. Unfortunately, the timing of the events meant that I didn’t get to have lunch and had only had my Shakeology and a Lara Bar up to this point (and had run 5.5 miles and swam about 500-600 yards open water).

When we first got the teacher training, we had a meet and greet with the 5 trainees and Dave to learn more about each of us and our goals and backgrounds. The other teacher trainees turned out to be an amazing group of people that I got along with great. They are all new coaches now as well (Annie Coyle, Bud Rockey, Rosita Delia, and Todd Erickson)

After the meet and greet, we went down to the pool and started doing some work on our swim strokes and shot some videos of each of the teacher trainees. Then we went to the classroom and looked at the videos and analyzed the swim strokes of each of the trainees. I saw some things on the video that I was sure I wasn’t doing…but videos don’t lie. I watched in horror as my lead hand would rise toward the surface on each of my breathings strokes. Despicable.

I was very glad when we were done with the classroom time because that meant it was time for dinner. At this point, I still had only had my pre-run food from the morning and had now spent over 4 hours in the water and run 5.5 miles. I was starving. We all went across the street to Old Chicago and had some food and beer and talked swimming. Good times. After that, a short bus ride home…and bed.

Monday, August 2, 2010: Ok, now yesterday was a pretty big day but, little did I know, the fun had just begun. I started the day by riding a bike to the teacher training. It was about 3 miles from the hotel to the YWCA where the training was held so it wasn’t a big deal to ride a bike. If you haven’t seen the bike rental program that they have in Minneapolis, you should check it out. There are electronic bike racks all over the city where you can swipe a credit card and check out a bike and then check it in at another rack somewhere else in the city. Very cool setup.

Anyway, after the bike ride, we spent about 90 minutes in the pool working on swim stroke focal points and then went to lunch. In the afternoon, we worked with a group of swimmers that were new to TI. In conjunction with the teacher training, there was a TI Perpetual Motion Freestyle class in the afternoons. Our job was to help Dave teach the PMF class every afternoon from about 12:30 to 3:30. There were 5 new TI swimmers in the class with a similar level of experience with TI swimming (very little). I have to say, this was an excellent way of setting up a teacher training. We mostly used the mornings to work on our strokes and hone our own skills as swimmers and then used the afternoons to hone our skills as coaches. I think it worked quite well.

I became friends with Dave Cameron on Facebook (feel free to friend request me too) a few weeks before the teacher training and he learned very quickly that I am involved with Beachbody (the company that makes P90X, Shakeology, and Insanity). He started asking me about P90X and so I agreed to do some group demos during the week.

So, after the PMF class in the afternoon the YWCA Otters swim team comes in for a pool practice and some strength training and Dave asked me to do a P90X workout with them for strength training that day. So, I pulled out “The Mother” of all P90X workouts, Plyo X, and gave about 25 swimmers a little taste of Tony Horton. They hated it…but they loved it.

After P90X, I rode the rental bike back and got some food and went to bed…I was spent.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: OK, legs are a little sore from yesterday. Hoping to be able to loosen them up, I walked the three miles to the YWCA in the morning after my usual breakfast of Shakeology.

The morning pool session was spent learning to use the tempo trainer. I had never used a tempo trainer before and found it very useful. Dave had been trying to get me to relax my kick and head toward more of a 2-beat kick for the last couple of days and, surprisingly, when I increased my tempo the kick seemed to relax and flow. I am excited to see how the tempo trainer can improve my own swimming and how I can use it to train triathletes.

The afternoon session with the PMF class was again a great learning opportunity, and you could really see changes in the student’s swimming already. All of us new coaches were learning a lot about how much to give the students at one time and how to recognize when they were getting overloaded and needed to go back to the basics. Dave did an excellent job of balancing that and letting us in on his thought process.

After the PMF class, we did another P90X workout with the Otters. Actually we did two…Yoga and Ab Ripper X. I am really starting to get tired at this point.

I rode a rental bike back to the hotel again after the P90X sessions and hit the sack.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010: I planned to take it a little easier today and try to recover from some of the last few days loaded with multiple workouts as well as mental overload. I planned this in conjunction with this particular day because I knew the morning session was about TI and technology and we wouldn’t be working out in the pool. We spent a few hours in a conference room talking about underwater cameras, video editing software, motion analysis software, online video sites (youtube, motionbox, vimeo), video narration, etc. I really enjoyed the technology session and got some good ideas from it. I had done a few videos in the past but had never narrated over the top of them. I am definitely going to use that with my clients.

After lunch, it was back to the pool with the PMF class. Again, the changes in these swimmers was just remarkable from the last two days of class. I, once again, learned a lot from watching Dave run this class and really enjoyed being able to give each of the swimmers focal points to work on and watch as each person would key in on a different explanation.

After the PMF class, the Otters swim team came in for their workouts again and I introduced them to P90X Core Synergistics. However, this time I just watched as half the class did that workout and the other half did the TRX suspension workout in the other room (which is a very cool workout system as well).

I walked home from the Y after the P90X session with some of my fellow future coaches and had a relaxing evening.

Thursday, August 5, 2010: OK, hardcore again today. I rode the rental bike to the Y extra early because I wanted to check out the running path around Lake Calhoun that was just a few short blocks from the Y. After all, it is the land of 10,000 lakes or something like that. So, I hit the trail for a 4 mile run and got back in time to jump in the pool for another workout. Again, we were working with the tempo trainers this morning. I am starting to really like the tempo trainer now.

Spent the afternoon with the PMF class and introduced them to the tempo trainer as well. Then, after the PMF class, I introduced the Otters to Kenpo X (they all pretty much hate me now).

In the evening, I tagged along with Dave down to Richfield for his Tri Masters long course group workout. It was my first time swimming in a 50 meter pool so I had to go along to give that a try. I made it about 1100 yards before the day caught up with me and I was just too tired to go any longer. Apparently, a 4 mile run, Kenpo X, and about 4 hours of pool time is pretty tiring. I proceeded to reward myself with a Blizzard at DQ afterward….gasp!

Friday, August 6, 2010: Ok, last day of PMF class and also the final test for the teacher training! The final test consisted of a shooting several video segments of one of the other coaches and then editing it into a final video (with narration and slow motion and such). So, we spent the first hour or so of the morning shooting videos of each other and then went off to the classroom to start editing them. We had a little bit of trouble with video formatting and software but eventually got it all worked out and got everyone’s uncut videos onto their computers before lunch.

There was a large art fair going on that weekend in uptown Minneapolis right outside the YWCA, so we all went out at lunch and got some fair food (I had a great gyro).

After lunch we had the final session and video shoot with the PMF class and then the coaches continued to work on the final cuts of their videos for the final test. I had a great time making my video and finished uploading it across the street on the wi-fi at the Old Chicago restaurant over an ice cold beer. Meanwhile, the Otters were back at the Y doing P90X Shoulders and Arms.

It felt really good to get that video test finished and uploaded. I was weary from the week but I knew that I was almost there. I think all of us coaches were feeling good to have that part done and we ended up celebrating a little by stopping at the Rock Bottom Brewery on the way home for dinner and a few beers. We sat out on the patio and relaxed and watched all of the dressed up people walk by on their way to “Glamourama” or something like that…I think it was some kind of fashion show.

Saturday, August 7, 2010: The final day. At this point, I think the evaluation of us as coaches was pretty much over. We just shadowed Dave as he taught an all day Total Immersion Advanced class at the downtown YWCA. There were only 3 swimmers in the class which gave it a very personal touch. After the class was over, we all went to Brit’s pub and celebrated. Unfortunately, I had to leave early because I was catching a flight home that night.

My “ah-hah” moment:

Dave used the term “ah-hah moments” to describe those points when something really clicks with you about your swimming stroke and/or why things work or don’t work. Here is my top “ah-hah moment” that I had at the teacher training:

– On one of the first days with the PMF class, Dave had them go into superman glide and then use a toe flick with the right foot and a hip drive to go into skating on the left side and the same on the opposite side. If someone would have done this drill with me when I first started TI, I am pretty sure that I would have a two-beat kick right now. It is so simple but so effective at helping you to learn the feeling of driving with the hip and kicking with the opposite leg. I have been doing that in the pool since the training and it is really starting to click. Ah-hah!


If you have made it this far, I salute you. What a bunch of rambling. I realize most people don’t probably want to hear every detail and maybe some would have liked to hear more details about the swimming and less details about the beer and food and other workouts, but this is what I felt like writing about in regards to this trip. I hope you enjoyed reading it….I know I enjoyed being there and experiencing it. If you are considering becoming a TI coach, I would highly recommend it. The teacher training experience with Dave is a good time and you will learn a lot…guaranteed.

Ryan Chapman

B.A.S.E. Training

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