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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > May 2017 > LEARNING FEEL FOR THE WATER


Follow Terry Laughlin’s self-sensing and technique based focal points to improve your sensory awareness

Elite athletes appear different – physically – from the rest of us; they seem to have been ‘born to greatness.’ For instance, the world’s best freestylers are much taller than average, with supple joints, broad shoulders and narrow hips. Their bodies seem designed to maximise power, minimise drag and produce naturally superior stroke length. They also receive the best coaching and have time to train many more hours per week, to build upon those physical advantages.

But elites also share a less obvious advantage over average athletes: studies have shown they possess far greater kinesthetic, or sensory, awareness. And while elites in all sports have superior self-sensing ability, it rises to its highest level in swimming. This is because swimmers are immersed in a sensory-rich environment, in which every square millimetre of skin receives feedback from the water. We literally swim in a ‘sea of information’ which offers potentially invaluable guidance on how to increase efficiency. Coaches call this ‘feel for the water’ and speak of it as a little-understood quality that some athletes just have from birth and others… well, those unfortunates just lack it.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Welcome to our training special! Whether you have signed up for your first open water event or are planning an endurance challenge we have a plan for you – turn to page 44 for our one mile, 5k and 10k training schedules. We also have an intensive 10k DIY training camp for more advanced swimmers, as well as advice on how to successfully swim 24 miles in 24 hours and train for a swimrun event. Plus, our resident Olympian Cassie Patten answers your training queries and Total Immersion head coach Terry Laughlin trains your brain as well as your body. And if you haven’t yet signed up to an event to train for, check out our full listings starting on page 80. Outdoor swimming isn’t all about chasing that PB though. We hear from self-confessed dipper Joe Minihane about how wild swimming helped cure his anxiety and Ella Foote swims with Tessa Wardley, the author of a new book on mindfulness and swimming. And Jenny Landreth delves into the history books to explore the advice given to female swimmers in the 19th century. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.