The Most Graceful Freestyle

Swimming inspiration from Shinji Takeuchi, with Total Immersion Swimming Method


A couple weeks ago, I was feeling pretty good about myself after racking a 2:44:06 at the Lifetime Olympic Triathlon in Tempe.

But even though all three of the sports seemed to go well, when I dug into my race stats, one thing glared back at me: a super slow swim.

Now, I’ve always been a slow swimmer. And part of my Total Immersion strategy focuses on swimming effortlessly to conserve energy for the bike and the run.

However, I shouldn’t be swimming so effortlessly that nearly my entire age group gets out of the water ahead of me.

Indeed, I have found my hurdle.

So I went through my notes and revisited a few websites to locate the problem areas in my technique.

In the process, I uncovered this gem.

In addition to the most excellent title, and motivational soundtrack, Shinji Takeuchi’s swimming technique is nothing short of glorious.

I’m going to watch this video before every swim in hopes that the visualization instills a shred of his smooth, effortless method.

Here are the key points that I’ll look to incorporate in my swim:

  • The kick: Notice how it’s only one powerful kick by each leg that propels his hip rotation
  • The glide: After the kick, the legs just float in the wake and glide with the hips through the water
  • The breathe: You can hardly see him come up for air. He keeps his head almost completely submerged and opens his mouth only partway for air turning his head to the side. A big problem I have is lifting my head up and out of the water for air, which drops my hips and adds drag.
  • Point of entry: His hands enter the water just in front of the head on each stroke
  • Horizontal body: Completely balanced, suspended under water

The two areas I’ll focus on most will be to develop a stronger, more efficient kick (since I practically haven’t been using my legs at all up until now), and learn how to keep my head down when breathing.

I hope Shinji Takeuchi inspires you to improve your swim too.

And if you have any tips to help me fine-tune my Total Immersion technique, post them in the comments!

– Live every day –


  • Kristen Winsor

    Just my two cents! Totally agree on conserving legs and minimalizing kicks – I’ve never been a strong freestyle kicker and def try not to when I have to follow it with a run/bike. I pay much more attention to the quality of my strokes during races – stretching out in front at the end of your stroke + remembering to finish your stroke down by your butt and not pull out too early = elongating your hip rotation and moving forward with the least amount of strokes/effort as possible!

    Almost there! Go to the splash and dash Sunday for one last Tempe town lake swim!

    • adamsfuller

      Thanks for weighing in, Kristen. Great points. I’m focusing a lot on elongating my hip rotation, like you said. I’ll be at the Nov. 9 splash n’ dash for one more practice Tempe Town Lake open water swim before the big one a week later.