The Mindset & Techniques that Improved My Swimming by 10,000% in 90 days.

The Mindset & Techniques that Improved My Swimming by 10,000% in 90 days.
Swimming Alcatraz Dr. Sukh Dhiman and Amar Virk

I went from swimming 50 meters like a fish out of water to covering 5,000 meters in open water in less than 90 days, all as an adult. That's a crazy 9,900% improvement with only a few hours a week of training. Typically, my skepticism and bullshit detector goes off with numbers like this, but I'm reminded of when Jeff Bezos told CNBC he decided to launch Amazon after learning that the web was growing at a rate of 2,300% per year. Hindsight is 20/20 and it's allowed me to learn that some things are worth looking into...

So these are tools & techniques I discovered after I set the intention to embark on becoming an Ironman Triathlete and they helped me swim Alcatraz and fall in love with open-water swimming. When you crack the code to a new dimension of your own untapped potential, you want to share it and pass it on. Seeing the faces of my own family members and close friends who rediscovered swimming has made my weekends, training and family trips so much more fun and health-oriented. I love consulting and educating others, and this is just another form of it. Seeing the faces of the people around you become Ironmans & Olympic Triathletes and maximizing their potential at their own unique level doesn't get old.

I hope this resource challenges you to think about what's possible far outside of the realms of fitness with a little outside influence...

How-to videos with explanations are at the end of the article. You can jump straight to the 8-part video series called Freestyle Swimming, Perpetual Motion Total Immersion.


"The water is your friend. You don't have to fight with water, just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move." - Aleksandr Popov

Learning how to swim in my 30s allowed me to throw out the conventional wisdom of the 6-beat kick to a 2-beat kick. This allowed me not to fatigue my legs, and save energy which inturn allowed me more quality training time, and later transformed again into greater distance. All while turning swimming into a spiritual experience not just exercise.

The Power of Intention

It starts with intention.
Know the why behind the why of doing something.

People take action based on two factors; Pain or Inspiration.

The pain has to be so unbearable for change or the inspiration has to be so great they are compelled internally regardless of the barriers in front of them. So if your about to embark on a journey figure out the reasons. Here are my two factors:

  • My Inspiration: As a kid, in the late 80's I came across the Ironman World Championships (Swim, Bike, Run) on the sports network and seeing people giving it their all and leaving nothing in the tank blew my mind. I had no full comprehension of the distances. But I wore an Ironman Timex watch in elementary and high school the idea kept festering in my mind for nearly 30 years. I can cross country, through my life I've ridden BMX, Mountain Bikes and Motorcycles, but didn't know how to swim.
  • My Pain: I failed swimming lessons as a kid, while both my siblings passed each level they were in. I adopted a decades-old belief I wasn't good enough and forgot I had asthma, and allergies and the chlorine did a number on me. Somehow I established a firm belief in 3rd grade that swimming was too much of a hassle for me. Then in my mid 30's, I got tired of the same boring sports and gym routine and with my love of travel and just knowing 70% of the world is covered in water, it gnawed at me that I was walking around with a self-imposed limited belief preventing me from enjoying beach days, boating, kayaking, river rafting, snorkelling, and diving. Voids birth values.

Seeking a Solution:

Whatever problem you have, if you break it down into parts you'll realize someone has been there and overcome it. This why I love coaching and being coached, I can transmute the pain from my perceptions into work (serving others and solving problems).

I first researched athletes, coaches and techniques. My view is if someone else can do it, why can't I?

Traits of the Great

In our Traits of the Great workshop, I teach it's about reflective awareness to own the traits in your own form so you don't have mental excuses and can see the perfection. This allows you to open up the next steps towards your unique vision. So I broke my fears and excuses down. Yours will be just as comical if you break them down.

Excuse 1 (Age): Once I realized a 93 year old man learned how to swim with the same technique the mental barrier of being too old in my 30s was out the door.

Excuse 2 (Size): I'm a basketball/hockey player, not a swimmer. That was squashed when I realized the 28x Olpmyic Medalist Michael Phelps is the same height 6'4, has the same wing span at 6'6 and weighted the same at 194lbs. Make your list, this one made me laugh. There is an outlier for each and every one of us.

Excuse 3 (Ethnicity): The Japanese swimmer Shinji Takeuchi is perhaps the most graceful swimmer I've seen in my life. The Vancouver Citizen of the Century is a black man Joe Forte known as the lifeguard of English Bay.

Excuse 4: Open Water The transition from the pool to the outdoors is seamless once you have confidence in your technique and these factors.

  • Dog Paddle: Develop the ability to dog paddle for up to 30 minutes and you'll have the confidence knowing you can reset and shift your perceptions if you ever panic.
  • Backfloat: Know how to backfloat, it's okay to take a break. In a pool don't just grab the sidewalls, float in the deep end. Practice how you want to play. The game is meant to be fun and kick ass, and practice is meant to be hard - not the other way around.
  • Cold Showers: Take the occasional cold shower you'll appreciate it when you are in the ocean. It's one of the hardest things to do, so you'll have confidence you've done it on numerous occasions.
  • Breathwork: Your yoga and meditation practice will help with your breathwork. Start applying balanced breathing in a 1:1 ratio during training. Left side, right side. Even if you have a strong side, break the habit find a balance and breathe on both sides every 3 or 5 strokes. If you make mistakes and breathe from one side, don't stress as the occasional wave will hit you in the ocean, just be aware and consciously find your rhythm again.
  • Animals: I went shark diving on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. Like dogs, other animals sense fear. Get it out of your system and don't get too high on yourself to bring in outside circumstances to humble you. With all my bear and shark encounters they are just as scared of us and want nothing to do with you.
  • Ice Baths: I trained with the Dutchman Wim Hof, known as the Ice Man who holds 26 Guinness World Records for cold weather training. Doing ice bath training will be a great reminder you can handle whatever situations are thrown at you and bring it back to the basics. Your stroke and your breath.

There is not much change from indoor to outdoor. You might change your breath or miss a breath on one side if a large wave comes.

Swimming Technique: Total Immersion

Natural Form & Rytheme

This is where your journey starts...
The videos below will take you through the journey A-Z. Keep me posted.

I love this style of total immersion swimming because it's in alignment with my personal views of balance and not kicking the shit out of my body. I want a long-term standard for the quality of life into my 90's. As you have noticed through the videos there is a lack of kicking, lack of hyperextending of the shoulders which causes many injuries. But there is a focus on core stability, breath, and counterweighting your body. The conservation of energy and going into a meditative state can put you in a powerful state of flow once mastered. I thought swimming was going to be the hardest part of an Ironman triathlon and with only 90 days of training it was the easiest and my legs weren't burnt out for the 180km bike ride and full 42.5km marathon after that 3.86km swim.

Take people along with you on this wild ride. Learn with a friend and remember don't give up. You'll have your moments and your ups and downs. Just make sure the individuals you call will walk you off the ledge of quitting.

Freestyle Swimming - Perpetual Motion Total Immersion

8 Part Series

Solving the Speed Problem - Total Immersion

How to Work Less, Swim Better" in Triathlon - Total Immersion

"We all train the same, the wise know how recover more effectily. Mindset, food, sleep, technique, physical therapy and most importantly they know their why behind the journey"