Total Immersion Smart Speed and Open Water Skills Camp (Part 2)

Monday, 17 June 2013  |  Running + Triathlon

After a full day of swim camp on Friday (click HERE to read Part 1), I woke up the next day eager to learn more…


1) Classroom Session – 1 hour

After a light breakfast, we met Shinji for another classroom session. Here he showed us videos of his own swim and spoke in more detail about how to achieve speed with precision and proper technique rather than power. I remember him telling us: to be a better swimmer use your mind, not your muscles.

Here’s what Shinji mentioned are skills to increase speed:
1) balance and streamline to reduce drag
2) quick motion (hand spear and body roll)
3) focus on forward movement to save energy
4) use hybrid energy source

Shinji taught us how to increase speed without losing efficiency or stroke length. He said that the key to increasing tempo without losing propulsion is to use 1) Spear (upon entry), 2) Grip, and 3) Finish.

We were then given tempo trainers, a gadget like a metronome for runners which beeps to provide the rhythm of ones stroke. We were to use this for our next session. I decided to purchase one for P1800 so I could use it during training.

– Finis Tempo Trainer –

2) Open Water Session – 1.5 hours

We boarded a speedboat which took us to Anselmo, a cove with the water even clearer than the beach we swam in the day before. Even better, this was private so we had it all to ourselves!

– All aboard! Swim camp classmate Mara, Mark, Raymond, Sid, myself, and SBR’s Carlos –

– Anselmo –

– Our wonderful instructors: Sandra Taylor, Ria Mackay, and Karen Robertson –

– with the master himself: Shinji! –

It was here that Shinji talked about proper sighting, swimming straight or turning, drafting, and overtaking by increasing stroke length and not tempo. After a brief demo, we swam in pairs practicing our new skills.

– Swim class begins! –

– Learning in the water! –

– with my swim buddy –

We were then divided into small groups of around 10 swimmers led by a TI instructor. I was in Karen’s group.

We started out by the shore. She would brief us then give us a short drill or a specific area we should concentrate on, then she’d announce: “Now, practice it. 50 strokes.” and, like obedient students, we would swim out into the sea. This went on for about four or five more times. One time she told us to swim with our eyes closed so we could note how far we would veer from the center and determine the frequency of our sighting. Another time she asked us to focus on our arms in front of us. We went further and further out into the deep sea. Before we knew it, we had been out for an hour, wading, swimming, like a full-hour classroom session except this was out in the sea and we had been floating the entire time.

To end the session, Karen asked us all to set our tempo trainers to 1:20 and swim back to shore easy, on our own. We all swam with our newfound Total Immersion skills and, even if I hadn’t swam over 1k in the past months, I was amazed to find myself reaching the shore without even feeling exhausted. OMG it does work!

– with Karen –

– Class Picture! –

We were treated to a wonderful buffet lunch by the shore and some of us took the speedboat back to the hotel. Unfortunately, I could only stay until this session due to family commitments. For the rest of the day, some students had booked one-on-one full hour sessions with Shinji (separate fee from the camp fee). Later that evening, they had a Pool Session where all students were videotaped again. The videos were then evaluated during the Classroom session.

– Bonding time with the family before we took off for Manila. We loved Pico de Loro! –


On Sunday morning, an open water race 1k & 2k was held. It was open to the public, but all participants of the camp also had entry into this race. It was a great way for them to practice all the new skills they learned during the two-day camp. By this time, I was already at home in Manila, but I did see all the fun they had through photos.

– My classmates after the race! Congratulations everyone! –

– Race participants: Erwan, Mark, Raymond, Sid, Raoul, and Nonoy (my first TI instructor way back in 2009) –


The Total Immersion Smart Speed and Open Water Skills Camp is an excellent way for you to learn the skills of the Total Immersion technique. While you can take classes from Aqualogic Swim Co. or read books and practice TI on your own, learning from the master himself, Shinji Takeuchi, and the other great instructors, in this two-day camp definitely speeds up the pace, gives you immediate feedback on your areas for improvement, and makes it a more fun experience for you.

The camp was very well-organized. Everything—from transportation, food, accommodations, including special requests—were attended to. Shinji Takeuchi, despite English being his second language next to Japanese, is an engaging and generous speaker.  It need not be mentioned that he is a master of Total Immersion and he is well-equipped to lead the TI camp.  The other TI instructors were very knowledgeable, amiable, and helpful to all participants.  Perhaps one of the best things about this swim camp was the fun, light, and supportive atmosphere which made the learning experience even more memorable.


I would highly recommend this camp for beginner swimmers who want to learn how to swim for recreation, fitness or competition. I would also recommend it for beginner triathletes who need basic skills in swimming for triathlon or those who need to overcome their fear and build confidence for open water competitions.

Is TI for advanced competitive triathletes?  Ria Mackay mentioned that there is much debate over this and TI never promotes itself as the best technique for triathletes.  However, TI can promise to teach you efficient swimming with speed that can make you competitive enough for triathlon.  At the end of the day, it is up to the athlete to decide if this is the best technique for him/her given his/her goals.

The next Total Immersion Smart Speed and Open Water Skills Camp led by Shinji Takeuchi will be in September 2013. To register, visit Aqualogic Swim Co.

Ria Mackay – Head Instructor & Founder
Phone: +632.703.6386 / +632.837.1716 / +632.794.3393 / +63.917.858.AQUA (2782)

* Some photos courtesy of Aqualogic Swim Co. Photographer VT Roman

Total Immersion Smart Speed and Open Water Skills Camp (Part 1)

Thursday, 13 June 2013  |  Running + Triathlon

I was invited to cover the Total Immersion Smart Speed and Open Water Skills Camp last May 31 to June 2, 2013 at Pico de Loro Beach and Country Club, Nasugbu, Batangas. The head coach of the camp was Shinji Takeuchi, Total Immersion Japan’s Head Coach who is the #1 viewed swimmer on Youtube (more than Michael Phelps!) for his graceful freestyle swim. For many Total Immersion fans, Shinji is truly one of the masters of Total Immersion (TI), a swimming technique developed by American swim coach Terrry Laughlin which teaches one how to swim efficiently. (Think Chi Running for Swimmers which, by the way, Shinji is also a certified instructor of.)  The camp was organized by Total Immersion coach, Ria Mackay of Aqualogic Swim Co.

The camp was recommended for: swimmers who wish to swim longer with more confidence, those who wish to swim faster while preventing injury, or competitive swimmers or triathletes who wish to improve their speed. It was open to international and local participants with a tuition fee of $550 and $450 respectively. The fee included camp fee, open water race registration fee, bus ride to and from venue, lunch and dinner buffet, swim cap, t-shirt, flash drive with drills, swim demos, and participants’ underwater and surface videos. For accomodation at Pico Sand Hotel the cost was $155/night.


I enjoyed the comfortable 3-hour ride to picturesque Pico de Loro Beach & Country Club aboard an air-conditioned bus along with my swim camp classmates. The hubby and kids were to follow later that evening. We arrived at Pico around 1:30PM with just enough time to check in, grab a quick bite, freshen up and change, and head to the first session at the pool.

– View by the pool at Pico de Loro Sands Hotel. Loved the place! I’ll definitely come back. This view reminded me of Angsana Hotel in Laguna Phuket –

1) Pool Session – 1 hour

Before we began the session, each of us were videotaped swimming one lap. It was unnerving to swim in front of all our classmates and instructors, but I must admit that I couldn’t wait to see my imperfect form on video and see how and where I could make improvements.

– with one of the most graceful swimmers in the world, Shinji Takeuchi –

– Waiting in line with my swim camp classmate for our “shooting” –

The formal sessions then began with Shinji.  He was assisted by other TI instructors, Sandra Taylor and Karen Robertson, from Hong Kong as well as our other TI instructors from Manila led by Ria Mackay.  Shinji announced that he would share the secrets to his world-famous graceful freestyle. With that, he got my attention.

We were given basic TI drills to follow from floating like a jellyfish, superman, and gliding. He said that we should learn how to relax during a swim to avoid releasing too much carbon dioxide. He also taught us how to lean forward as we started to swim, then allow our bodies to collaborate with the water, not fight it. Water takes our bodies forward.

– Lucky enough to be between two runners, Joy and Reagan –

– Listening intently to swimmming guru Shinji’s every word –

– The first drill: Floating like Jellyfish. We were asked to relax everything from our neck, shoulders, down to our limbs. One of the TI instructors, Karen, supervises us –

2) Video Analysis – 1 hour

After the drills, we met at the Function Room for the classroom session.  Shinji discussed proper form and technique.  He reminded us that we could learn all the theories and practice by ourselves.  Ria Mackay reminded us that it takes 200,000 repetitions for a skill to be imprinted as muscle memory. 200,000.  Wow, I got a long way to go!

We also viewed each of the videos of ourselves swimming for us and the rest of the class to see!  Gasp! Much to my relief, the entire room did not burst out into laughter when they saw my video.

– Shinji discusses proper TI form and technique –

– with classmates and new friends Al and Reagan –

3) Open Water Session – 1.5 hours

At dusk, we headed off to the beach for an open water session with Shinji.

– I love open water swims. Would choose this over the pool anytime –

– with triathlete friends Mark Hernandez, Raymond Racaza, and Sid Maderazo –

It was here that Shinji swam before us and, I kid you not, my jaw dropped (along with everyone else’s!) He swam silently, gracefully, rhythmically as if he was gliding through the water. It was amazing…and it was inspiring!

Shinji then taught us more practical techniques for racing such as sighting, course correction, and turning. These tips were very practical for me as well as the triathletes in the camp.

– Shinji with other TI instructors and swim camp students –

– Posedown with triathletes Mark Hernandez, Raymond Racaza, and Sid Maderazo –

The night ended with a sumptuous buffet dinner by the beach. It was a great way to meet other classmates in the camp and also to chat casually with Shinji who, by the way, could not stop talking about swimming all through the night. Truly, this man is passionate about swimming.

– with TI coaches after a full day of swimming and right before we called it a night –

Next post: Total Immersion Smart Speed and Open Water Skills Camp (Part 2)

* Some photos courtesy of Aqualogic Swim Co. Photographer VT Roman

AquaSphere Total Immersion Open Water Camp

Wednesday, 3 April 2013  |  News + Promos

For wanna be swimmers, swimmers, triathletes out there!  Shinji Takeuchi, TI Japan head coach and the “world’s most graceful swimmer” as seen on Youtube is coming to the Philippines!

Event: AquaSphere Total Immersion Open Water Camp
Date: May 31 – June 2, 2013
Venue: Pico de Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas
No. of Participants: 30 only including international participants from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia
Tuition: USD 450 local residents / USD 550 international
* If you sign up with 3 other people (total of 4 participants), each one will get a $40 discount on the tuition fee.

Click HERE to download the Registration Form.

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For inquiries:
Contact Ria Mackay 0917.899.6545 Monday to Friday after 5PM