Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body: Book review


If you are frustrated whenever you get in the pool to swim laps because it doesn’t feel like you’re getting far or improving, this is a great book to read and apply. It’s particularly great if you want to swim but have never enjoyed it, or enjoy it but are frustrated by your performance. Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body is all about working with water to balance and propel yourself forward calmly and efficiently.

I took swimming in college because it was offered and I wasn’t going to have to pay extra for it. I didn’t need the credits, but I wanted to get in the habit of going to the pool twice a week. I didn’t read the course description upon registration, and was surprised when we were required to buy this book as part of the class. Extraordinary Swimming for Every Body is a guide to “swimming better than you ever imagined.” This is the promise on the cover and I thought it was cheesy – it turned out to be true.

That swim class taught me more about balance and focus than any other class I had to take in college. The lessons I learned based on its principals did not just apply to time spent in the pool, but throughout my life to this day. It deepened my meditation practice, and showed me how to prioritize things logically, otherwise I would drown.

On my way to the final for this swim class I was delayed due to traffic. This combined with the very little sleep I had been getting throughout finals week, and I began to hyperventilate as I walked from the parking lot to the pool. The stress was too much for my body and I was forced to sit down and calm my mind. I had just been reading this book and thinking about the fundamentals of balance and patience, and continuous improvement; Remembering how far I had come that semester, and that even if I did fail that final it was due to circumstances beyond my control, I could continue on into the gym and keep on swimming.

This book shows you how to learn four basic strokes on your own: breaststroke, freestyle, backstroke and butterfly. The author, Terry Laughlin, engagingly shares how he has been continuously improving his swim practice well into middle age and beyond. He also has a series of instructional videos and has written other books about total immersion, which is the key to underwater efficiency and is appropriately the name of his company.


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