Terry Laughlin, The Master Who Changed My Life (#276)

“Life is not designed to make things easy for us but present challenges that help us grow.” — Terry Laughlin

This episode is special to me. While I didn’t know it at the time, this ended up being  Terry Laughlin’s (@TISWIM) final long-form interview. Terry passed away from cancer complications on October 20, just two weeks after we recorded this interview.

Terry was the founder of Total Immersion Swimming and co-author of Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way To Swim Better, Faster, and Easier. He had a profound impact on me — teaching me to overcome a lifelong fear of water and swimming (read all about it here). But more than that, he’s been an inspiration for the way I’ve done anything since.

Terry coached three college and two USA Swimming club teams from 1973 to 1988, improving each team dramatically. In that time, he developed 24 national champions at all strokes and distances — the first national champions produced by four different teams.

In 1989, Terry founded Total Immersion Swimming and turned his focus from working with young, accomplished swimmers to adults with little experience or skill (like me). But it’s not just about swimming; Terry’s elegant method of deconstruction and logical progression is the epitome of what I strive to do when I’m talking about learning any skill — from investing to learning languages.

It’s with a heavy heart but much gratitude that I was able to interview Terry before he passed.  Please enjoy, savor, and digest what Terry had to impart. And be sure to check out Terry’s gift for listeners of this podcast: a free seven-day membership to the Total Immersion Academy online training center.

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Terry Laughlin, The Master Who Changed My Life

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How I was introduced to Terry and Total Immersion Swimming after many failed attempts to overcome my fear of water. [08:27]
  • Swimming has gone from something I dreaded to something I try to do as much as possible — and it’s empowered me in ways beyond what I could have anticipated. [12:27]
  • How I fulfilled the bet that drove me to seek Terry’s help in the first place. [14:10]
  • In his nineties, Dr. Paul Lurie proves you’re never too old to learn — and even improve existing skills. [16:10]
  • How Paul Lurie helped swimming legend Marilyn Bell relearn how to swim in her seventies. [20:04]
  • Even Terry didn’t begin as a “natural” swimmer. [22:01]
  • Terry’s epiphany about technique while teaching at U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. [25:31]
  • Where did the bones of Total Immersion Swimming enter the picture? [31:55]
  • How Bill Boomer, head coach of the men’s swim team at the University of Rochester, changed Terry’s way of thinking. [37:28]
  • Terry tells us about the break he took from coaching to explore other career avenues. [45:44]
  • Why did Terry return to coaching? [48:21]
  • Where did the name “Total Immersion Swimming” come from? [50:24]
  • Terry talks about opening his first swim camp. [51:03]
  • How would Terry start training a reluctant swimmer? [54:58]
  • Understanding first principles and embracing the counterintuitive across disciplines. [59:21]
  • On avoiding error points in meta-learning, the two error points common to beginning swimmers, and why Terry considers kickboards to be useless as teaching implements. [1:02:49]
  • Helpful drills and exercises for instilling basic swimming principles. [1:11:12]
  • What Terry learned from George Leonard about the possibility of learning mastery of a skill even at an advanced age. [1:13:48]
  • How would Terry teach someone to persist through a plateau on the path to mastery? [1:17:44]
  • What has helped me continue through some of my own plateaus? [1:21:18]
  • The story of Phil — who went from most challenged student to matching the level of Total Immersion Swimming’s best coaches in 18 months. [1:24:51]
  • What contributes to effective self-coaching? [1:29:39]
  • Terry talks about the origin of his cancer diagnosis and explains the circumstances. [1:38:13]
  • How Terry coped with his diagnosis. [1:41:11]
  • Expressing appreciation for the life-improving toolkit that Terry has given me, and which I’ve shared with countless others. [1:45:19]
  • After thirty years with incredible success, why does nobody else teach Total Immersion Swimming? [1:49:17]
  • Terry shares the five first principles of intelligent, improvement-oriented swimming. [1:50:33]
  • How these principles helped me overcome my personal swimming shortcomings. [1:55:09]
  • Four action items Terry suggests you try next time you’re in a pool. [1:57:26]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:00:33]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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74 Replies to “Terry Laughlin, The Master Who Changed My Life (#276)”

  1. Hi Tim,

    It’s sad to hear this news comes out just at the same time with the podcast. Although swimming is not a subject I find interesting because as you were at one point, I am not a big fan of swimming at the moment, I know it meant much to you at that time and I’m looking forward to hear some more insight on it. From looking at the show notes, however, you don’t talk too much about your experience, but I know your questions are just as good as your answers, so should be a good podcast, as usual.

    Thank you


    1. Hi Tim,

      Great podcast as always. I’m learning so much from you.

      Ever since I read your book “Tools of titans”, I became your fan and I slowly starting implementing the insights presented in the book (I’m feeling good about myself already). Started reading one new book a week, got out of my tiny debt and started investing. All thanks to you 🙂

      Keep rocking and thanks for everything you do.

      Create more > consume less.

  2. I ran across TI when I could no longer run and had to swim to complete my Army Physical Fitness Test. I swam like a turtle and seriously wondered how it was possible. Once I listened and incorporated TI I (almost) felt guilty at how much easier swimming was than running. So Terry has been a mentor and friend for a long time. My favorite part was reminding myself how giving yourself is all that matters.

  3. I took total Immersion 10 years ago to help with my Triathlon training. I loved the course and recommended it to several friends and fellow Tri people.

    I’m truly sad to hear of Terry’s passing, thanks for getting this out Tim.

  4. I used much of Terry’s advice back in my Ironman swim days, and I look forward to hearing this episode, Tim. Thank you for releasing it…and may he rest in peace.

    1. Ben Greenfield, I used to work with Dr. Dan Pompa. That’s where I was introduced to your work. Your book “Beyond Training” is sitting about 10 feet away from me right now and it had been read and referenced several times. Keep up the great work!

  5. Tim, Thank you for this. Terry was a good friend, gracious and passionate. It’s so good to hear all this in one interview. He gave much to many.

  6. Sorry for the loss of your mentor- it’s never easy to lose a friend too soon and your post is a lovely tribute to him. Looking forward to hearing this podcast and to checking out the online course.

  7. Tim, thank you for sharing the wisdom of another great man and mentor. I know you will be forever grateful for having him in your life. I am truly sorry for your loss.

  8. Tim, in October 2015, I was standing on the shores of a quaint Mexican beach south of Rosarito watching surfers dance on a fantastic wave and bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t be out there in the water with them. At that moment, I was super envious of those surfers, because in the past I have had my ass handed to me on many occasions trying to learn how to surf. The underlining issue with my lack of success in surfing: horrible swim technique.

    I went back to the condo and opened my laptop and searched for swim schools in my hometown back in CO. I came across your Ted talk, then downloaded your Open Water Swimming episode from the Tim Ferriss Experiment on iTunes. When I returned home from my vacation I ordered the Total Immersion book and downloaded Terry’s videos from his website. I committed to swimming each morning at 5 am (thank you Joko Willink) for nearly the whole of 2016.

    Without overstating the fact, swimming has empowered me, has positively changed my life, has elevated my meditation practice, and instilled confidence in me.

    I want to say thank you for being so vulnerable about your struggles with swimming and fear of the water. Your example has certainly spread Terry’s message and strengthened his mission, and I am sure he was supremely proud to have you in his life. I am grateful for both you and Terry and will be thinking of you both the next time I jump in the water.

  9. This was a tough one, emotional, raw and totally transparent. Please thank his daughters for the extras that truly showed the whole family in an authentic and courageous light. I hope that his mission continues with your help. Many lessons learned from. this broadcast. Thank you Tim and Laughlin Family.

  10. Hi Tim: Thanks for sharing this great podcast. It is tough to lose such a close mentor. My family has a close mentor – Tao Porchon-Lynch. She is 99 years old and listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Oldest Yoga Instructor. She is a true inspiration and lives by the words ” There is nothing you can not do.” She walked with Gandhi and has many other incredible stories. I think she would make a great interview for you. Look her up!

  11. Tim, Thank you for this wonderful interview. I shared the podcast with my family as we grew up in the same small town. It was a catalyst to learning more about Terry and my family as my mother shared fond memories of the Laughlin’s. I learned not only about Terry – but his mom and dad (and my parent’s) due to your podcast. Thanks for providing this interview and helping families connect in deeper ways.

  12. What an Amazing way that the Good Lord has of communicating Tim…

    a friend sent me Your interview with Terry….before listening i decided total him and say HELLO…and then cried when i heard the news …

    am sharing some videos with You that i think you;ll appreciate:

    on YouTube:

    Barry Shore: How Total Immersion Changed My Life

    ~~you’ll like this: since this was made have passed 6,007 miles…. which is swimming from venice ca to s korea 😉 (YAY Terry!)

    [Moderator: additional text and link removed.]

    May Terry’s Memory be for a Blessing as he helped so many swim the sea of LIFE

  13. Just the fact Terry Laughlin was generous and courageous enough to record this 2 weeks before passing, that’s already incredible lesson,

    R.I.P. and thank you both

  14. Hi Tim,

    This interview was amazing, so enjoyable listening to Terry speak so well and passionately about his purpose. It will change how I am.

    I am in tears having listened to the final interview with Terry’s daughters for the unbelievably difficult situation they faced, the agony of it all and for beautiful person that Terry was. I was diagnosed with cancer last month and had surgery about 3 weeks ago. I guess it has only really hit me now what it all means and how I’ve totally screwed up my life. Terry said everything he’d done had prepared him for these moments…I wish I could say the same.

    To Terry’s daughters – I am so sorry for your loss, but glad that you had such a wonderful person that was your Dad.

  15. Tim,

    I’m the very bad swimmer that went to a pretty good swimmer that Terry told you about in this podcast. He was an extraordinary person and I am fortunate to have learned from him. He changed my life as well. He not only taught me how to swim but more importantly he taught me to be mindful and purposeful. Thank you for sharing his story.

    Phil Crews

  16. To his dying breath it was so clear how much he loves and once to transform people around him through his medium… Swimming!

    It made me cry to also hear his daughters, through his process orientation, show him why it’s now time to rest.

  17. Very insightful information that delves deep across the board. Very wise gentleman and I’m thankful for the content. I am reminded a lot of his mission to reach others before he left similarly to the novel Tuesday’s by Morrie by Mitch Albom. If you have not read, I strongly recommend this short read. Thank you, Tim and sending good vibes your way!

    A quote from the book Tuesday’s by Morrie by Mitch Albom:

    “Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. ‘A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.’ Sounds like a wrestling match, I say. ‘A wrestling match.’ He laughs. ‘Yes, you could describe life that way.’ So which side wins, I ask? ‘Which side wins?’ He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth. ‘Love wins.’ Love always wins.”

  18. Tim, your work always underscores the importance of living a meaningful life, like the memento mori, the reasons why you should not wait to follow your dreams, and the lessons we learned from palliative care physician BJ Miller. And only now it became very real in this truly sad story of Terry, and I am grateful for the way you shared this with us.

    Thank you

  19. What a brave human being.

    Terry has left his make on the world in an inspiring and positive way. I will be in the pool today in his honor and commit to this. It would have made a fantastic episode no 300.

  20. Tim,

    Just finished listening to your interview with Terry Laughlin — another great podcast with some heavy emotional impact. I noted from the podcast that you are a recent transplant to Austin, so welcome to ATX! I moved here from San Francisco 18 years ago and absolutely love the area. My office is not far from Deep Eddy and I have enjoyed swimming there for a number of years. Your podcast has convinced me to check out Total Immersion and do some work on my technique. As you may have already determined, options for outdoor activities are not quite as diverse here in ATX as they are in the Bay Area. However, I manage to keep my plate pretty full with hiking, biking, wake surfing, kayaking, live music, and trying to drink a cold beer in each new craft brewery that springs up. If you have not been there yet, check out the Rainey Street area. One day it will be nothing but high rise condos, so embrace it while you can! Feel free to reach out to me if you want to sit down for a beer with a local and get an insider’s perspective.

  21. This was a beautiful chat. I stumbled on Terry Laughlin and TI when I was taking baby steps with swimming, in order to lose weight. I learnt so much from his books and DVDs, and it led me to Chi Running. I had forgotten how generously and gently Terry came across, accompanied by his great wisdom. I mainly run now, but Terry and TI set me on my way. Cheers for a great podcast, generous to the last

  22. Tim,

    So sorry for your loss of a dear friend and mentor. I am in my late 50s and have never been comfortable in water. I can minimally swim. I tried getting lessons a few years ago but the quality of lessons was poor. Besides form my main issue is breathing while swimming. I have a deviated septum and breathing through my nose is not ideal. You had a deviated septum while you learned since it was public knowledge that you had it fixed this year. Is there anything you can share to help me deal with this issue? I purchased the TI dvds and will try and teach myself. Finding a good teacher is difficult. I live on Long Island so if you know of any good teachers, please let me know. There is a teacher in Bay Shore on the TI sight but he is very expensive.

    I enjoy your podcast and books and hope you continue to cover a wide range of topics with your guests.

    Tana Piccirillo

  23. Thank you Tim for bringing Terry on the podcast and sharing his last audio pieces. Sorry about what happened. It’s really sad an heart-breaking he’s not with us here anymore. …

    I believe this episode represents a lot of what you teach all of us, trying to distill from all the interviews – mastery.

    Principles learned in this episodes applied to ANY discipline, any area, that someone tries to improve will bring results above average.

    For me personally the most important lessons were:

    Focus on the skill and constant improvement, mastery will happen automatically.

    How we do anything, our form is more important and must be mastered before speed, and quantity of efforts – it’ll save energy (because we are indeed energy wasting machines most of our existence), and it’s the only way, that we can become world class and “outdo” our competition.

    And also it’s never too late to master a skill and improve. Even in 90s we can still do our best!

  24. Tim,

    Deepest condolences on your friend and mentor. It was heart-wrenching to listen to but so good in its message. Thanks for mustering the will to record that intro and big thanks to Terry’s family for sharing those final moments. I cannot think of a more sobering way to exemplify human mortality and the importance of every moment.

    Thanks for what you do.



  25. Dear Tim,

    I have wanted to write to you since I read Tools of Titans a few months ago. Since then, I proceeded to listening to your podcasts, reading the rest of your books, and pre-ordering Tribe of Mentors. Through your blog, I found that the best way to contact you would be through a comment here. I have hesitated because of how personal my message is, but here it goes.

    Firstly, I am deeply sorry for the loss of such a great man. My heart goes out to you and his family. Thank you for interviewing him and thank you for sharing his interview with us. You honor him by the mention of him in your work and for sharing his knowledge with all of us.

    Secondly, I want to tell you, you have changed my life in a thousand different ways. Before I came across your book, I had been in a 3-year deep depression that was headed in the worst possible direction. Your books taught me about life and how much it was worth living.

    Your books and podcasts make me feel excited to live, learn, and to understand life. Thanks to you, my fear has disappeared and I am a much healthier person both physically and emotionally. Your books and podcasts filled a void inside me that I just couldn’t fill no matter how hard I tried. You have helped me believe in myself again, and I now know I am headed for greatness.

    You have saved me in more ways than one and I am forever grateful to you. There are no words that will ever be able to express my gratitude. For now, all I can do to thank you is to continue to recommend your books, podcasts, and blog to everyone I know. Hopefully some day I will be able to afford your Dubai-like price for a one-on-one with you, since I am sure those “15 minutes of fame” you call your success, will never be up.

    Thank you for what you do,


  26. I was so very sad to hear from my TI coach of Terry’s untimely death. He will never know how many lives he touched and changed. He made a massive difference to my life.

  27. Your intro drew me in- I lost my best friend with metastatic cancer one week after she had a tragic stroke. I felt the pain of your loss and what a gift to have this interview. I am stuck by the conversation of mediocrity, excellence you two covered. I may try more pleasant experiments, including swimming. I am still listening to the interview (on commute to hospital). So sorry for your loss.

  28. This episode was beautiful and Terry was so engaging in your conversation. I am sad for his family and friends. I listened to your opening comments and the emotion in your voice and hearing how vibrant and passionate he was just a few weeks before his passing gives me hope that it is possible to live an amazing life to the last moments.

  29. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for the wonderful interview and, while gut wrenching, the amazing dialogue between Terry and his daughters at the end of your Podcast. It was truly touching.

  30. My condolences to you, and Terry’s family and friends.

    I can’t stop thinking about my sister-in-law who died of cancer over a year ago. She had suggested a book, “In-Between Days: a memoir about living with cancer” by Teva Harrison. I don’t know Teva and I’m not trying to sell anything. I know you’re someone who is interested in how other’s tick—maybe you’d be interested in how someone is dealing with cancer. The world would be a better place if we’d just try to understand each other (such a simple/hard thing) This book gave me an understanding of what she must have went through. Wish I could have read it sooner.

  31. Once I listened and incorporated TI I (almost) felt guilty at how much easier swimming was than running. So Terry has been a mentor and friend for a long time. My favorite part was reminding myself how giving yourself is all that matters.

  32. A very special episode with the annals of the Tim Ferriss show. Terry distills principles of practice (in anything) as deeply as those of swimming. I liked, in particular, how the episode reveals the observations and questioning that came to define the unique Total Immersion method – no doubt with controversy in the swimming coaching world. And so, –

    with personal poignance in the context of Terry being at the end of his life – we get a tapas of insights as to questioning assumptions, biases, convention.

    And Tim’s very personal introduction, and the privilege of hearing the recordings from those dark days of struggle in hospital, will – I suspect – never be forgotten by me and oft returned to.

    Thank you Tim, and Terry’s family for crafting and publishing the episode. And, I’m sorry for your loss. (I very much look forward to buying the book).

  33. Tim,

    Great job on that intro and outro. That could not have been easy. Especially after the year you’ve had.

    I hope you’re well.

    Thanks for everything you do.


  34. Thanks for this conversation. I used to joke that if you dropped me and a rock in a swimming pool at the same time, I would be on the bottom waiting to catch the rock. Swimming was not an activity, it was an all out fight between me and the water, and the water always won. I don’t like having limitation set on my life, and not being able to swim was a limitation, so about 15 years ago, when I was in my early 30s, I signed up for a triathlon and ordered Total Immersion swimming. One length of the pool soon grew to actual lap swimming. The first time I actually felt like I was gliding through the water I started laughing, laughing and swimming is not advised, but this method is. I no longer see water as a barrier, but as an opportunity. I can still sink with the best of them, but only when I so choose. Thank you Terry…rest in peace.


  35. Thank you for making Terry’s interview available. Thanks to Terry for teaching me how to swim. Rest in peace, Sir. What a wonderful man! He has been a great coach (via book/video) and is teaching some of my friends to swim as well. I learned of him from your incredible hulk talk and ran to get the book. I’d purchased a triathlon bike just after college but never attempted a triathlon due to lack of ability to “lap swim”. I’ve always been very comfortable in the water swimming, skiing etc. No doubt I could survive if dropped in the middle of a lake. However, swimming laps was always the challenge. Something about getting face down, water in my nose and breathing made it too hard. After Total Immersion, my results were amazing. Not as fast as yours, but swimming became fun! I’ve now done a few sprint triathlons and made the podium in my 4th race. I purchased the Tri- bike in 1988 but didn’t do my first race until 2016! I wish I’d found Terry sooner. Just to see if i could, I swam 4000 meters last weekend in 1 hour 32 minutes and felt great after. In December, I’ll do a “birthday swim” of 54 hundred meters and have no doubt about finishing. It’s funny, folks all say the same thing about not being able to swim. I tell them all about the book, but some don’t seem to appreciate coaches who do it different. I’m hooked on your methods and the expert you write about and have on the podcasts. Please keep it up.

    Have you found a bike coach that offers an esoteric way to get fast? That is my next challenge. If you find one, share! You will be a hero to even more triathletes. I now love triathlons and look forward to increasing distance in the future. Why suck at one sport, when you can suck at three!

    Thanks to Terry’s daughters to sharing their recordings at the end of the podcast. It is inspirational to hear him using his methods until the end. You can hear his passion and it no doubt extended his time here with his family.


  36. I too, grew up on Long Island (Long Beach) and never knew how to swim! With the help of Terry’s TI videos on you tube, I became kind of obsessed with the TI way! Just this past weekend my friend and I went to New Paltz, NY and had semi-private lessons with Carsten of the TI studio. We are forever grateful to Terry and his wisdom. He will be greatly missed.

  37. Great podcast – made more so due to the clear care and friendship between you and Terry. Further, if you get the opportunity please thank Terry’s daughters for the permission to use the recording, and particularly the snippets recorded in the hospital.

    I will be checking the IT process to help with my poor swimming, having swum since the age of five at 54 I moved on and got certified to an advanced scuba diver (with ‘plain’ swimming being my worst skill) and we will see what and where things improve. Thank you again, keep it up.

    1. Doesn’t seem to be listed, but … … here is Tim (a young one ) showing Terry at a TED… … “and that is all you need to know.”

      Thanks again, now I need to find my not-speedos : )))))

  38. Inspiration that come from those who have experience helps us to motivate ourselves of what we can do. Somebody whom we look up to can be a factor for us to become successful. Since they bring inspiration to us.

  39. Hey Tim!

    Thank you for publishing this wonderful interview.

    Not only is it a wonderful example of how to deconstruct, re-invent and accelerate learning, but it also showcases a master at life, who enjoys it while empowering others to challenge and conquer limiting beliefs so they can continue creating possibilities and transforming other areas of their lives, and the lives of others.

    Terry truly inspired me. What a guy!!

    Thank you Tim! Keep up the good work!

  40. This was very inspiring to me. Terry speaks with such clarity. After listening today I took myself and my son to the pool tonight and put his guidance to practice.

    I’ve always appreciated swimming is very technical. The fittest people definitely don’t make the best swimmers. I love going to the local pool and seeing the less “conditioned” swimmers lapping the gym junkies with the bulging muscles or the high VO2max scores. I always felt there was a secret I was missing and I think Terry’s approach could help me find that secret and perfect my stroke at the age of 50.

    Thanks to Tim for making this interview with Terry so his wisdom can be passed on to many others. Perhaps in the end the real message isn’t about swimming, it is about making yourself better, every time you get into the “pool”.

    Vale Terry Laughlin

  41. Tim,

    This podcast episode rocked my soul. Thanks for adding big hitting words. The end interview with Terry was…. wow. Just insane man.

    I pre-ordered Tribe of Mentors a couple months ago. Very excited! I’ve only paid full price for less than 5 books and 2 are yours.

    Thanks for the great work you do.


  42. Thank you, thank you for this podcast. I have listened to most, but this one is both heart-wrenching and informative. The ending is also graceful and thoughtful on your part. I listened to the dead air, just long enough to write this comment on your blog.

  43. Truly amazing, thanks Tim. Beautiful intro tribute to Terry, and an amazing interview.

    I know this is a George Leonard quote, but it was inspiring to hear Terry’s take on it and hear the passion in his voice. Definitely the biggest takeaway for me from this episode:

    “When you practice guided by the principles of mastery there is always positive change happening at the cellular level below your threshold of awareness and periodically this change consolidates into a thrilling leap forward.”

  44. Tim, Thanks so much for the podcast. I’m a former wrestler and my swimming so bad… I ordered Terry’s system and OMG. Thank you.

  45. Hi Tim,

    I decided to learn to swim at 52. Like you, I have tried different coaches and even a Masters swim group for a year that trained early morning 3 times a week. I had lots of frustrations and a LOT of struggling. None of it was as helpful as TI is to me. Now, I go to the pool to practice not to get a workout. Blessings to you for doing this deep interview with Terry Laughlin as well as your brave, vulnerable intro. To the podcast … inspirational…Well done you!

  46. Total immersion was supposed to provide a 7-day free trial, but they charged me $49 for it. False advertizing and rip-off.

    1. Ithank you all forcthese extremely touching words-we are always happy to know that our work makes even a small difference in your lives. I am sorry that there was any dissatisfaction-if you contact Keith or Angela at TZi Central, they will happily correct the situation for you. We always aim to exceed or at least meet expectations, so I suspect that in the confusion following Terry’s death, we have experienced some oversights. Sincere apologies. Again, get in touch through the main website, http://www.totalimmersion.net, and Keith or Angela can undoubtedly assist you.


      Betsy Laughlin

      (Terry’s daughter, and longtime TI employee)

  47. This is an excellent podcast! Thank you for this. It is amazing how the very simple and yet important lessons we learn through sports or arts is often lost in translation when it comes to aspects of our career or schooling per say. I had a question regarding one of the questions that Terry Laughlin’s daughter asked him towards the end of the podcast. He says that the more the external turbulence the greater the inner calm should be cultivated. But how does one go about cultivating greater inner calm while facing the greater external turbulence? What would the steps be from experiencing an initial shock to recognizing, controlling and then cultivating calm such that to prevent any fall from the path? And where does confidence play a role in this? Would love to hear your thoughts !

  48. I’m one of Terry’s five siblings. It was wonderful, but also very hard to listen to this podcast. Wonderful because it was so good to hear Terry’s voice, speaking conversationally, but passionately, about the things that most inspired him – not just swimming, but his skill in teaching others and encouraging them to be their best selves. Hard to listen to because it seems impossible that we will never be with him again.

    Terry wasn’t a god, as some people seem to view him (that’s actually pretty funny to us!), but he *was* talented, inspired, extremely generous, encouraging and optimistic, as well as irreverent, funny, and fun to be with. Terry was the glue that held our family together, and we are missing him intensely.

    I’m glad you had such a positive experience in your interactions with Terry. Thank you for sharing this with so many others, and for bringing a little bit of him back to us.

  49. Poingnant interview and clip from Terry’s hospital bed….

    Dear Tim,

    As a life-long competitive swimmer and a Speech language pathologist specializing in stroke and swallowing disorders, the last 12 minutes of podcast with clip from Terry’s hospital bed resonated with me. The parallel he drew between training and mindfulness practice and being faced with a crisis is so real. I see patients daily who face life-changing trauma or impact. The way Terry managed this with grace and poise speaks to his life-long commitment to mindfulness and vision of swim training. Thank you for sharing. Open water swimming opportunity daily during the summer in Narragansett, RI, a spectacular Atlantic Ocean swim with amazing sunrises and sunsets! Come join us and show your TI work! Best to you for being a part of the swim community.

    Jessica Ackerman

  50. HI Tim,

    I was saddened to hear about Terry’s passing and please accept my condolences as I know you were close and he meant a lot to you.

    I am a long time listener but first time poster. Your podcasts have greatly improved my life and this one is no different.

    I compete in Masters Swim competitions and my stroke caused me shoulder issues which has caused me to stop swimming.

    After hearing your podcast on TI, I taught myself TI and it does not hurt my shoulder when I swim, however I cannot figure out how to incorporate speed into the TI stroke. Terry talks about Olympic swimmers and how he taught people to swim fast so I am looking for resources and/or a coach in Austin, Texas, to help me continue the transformation so I can get back to competing without hurting my shoulder.

    Any help/guidance you can provide would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Hi Brad,

      I’m not a competitive swimmer, but I’ve also been experimenting with TI’s technique in the ocean and I have an idea you could try: How about finding a balance / rhythm where you go easy on your “bad” shoulder and use your “good” shoulder with more speed / strength to find a balance between muscular load and speed?

      Or perhaps you could try with “easier angles” on your bad shoulder and use your good shoulder to push forward faster in order to gain speed. I haven’t tried it, but I was thinking about your comment and came up with the idea.

      I know it’s kind of intuitive, but I decided to share it in case it’s useful, and as a way to honor Terry’s memory. Just like he experimented, you may find your own method that other swimmers with injured shoulders could use to swim faster!

      Let’s Learn to Love the Plateau!

      Hope it’s useful and gives you more ideas you can try!

  51. This was incredible. I read Mastery many years ago and this brought back many of the principles I had forgotten.

    Great works as always Tim. The last part was heart wrenching. Terry’s passion practiced during his life, final weeks and days is so inspiring.

    If this won’t motivate people to stop doing what they hate and start pursuing what they love, I don’t know what will.

    Thank you for this,


  52. Heart wrenching…from beginning to end. This is probably the most heartfelt podcats to date. I feel your pain, and the pain of loved ones surrounding Terry. I felt as if I had known him and I felt pain as well. The calm in his voice, the clarity of thought, his mindfulness, and resilience to the very end… I can only imagine your dealing with the grief.. Thank you Tim for this dose of greatness and vulnerability.

  53. As a fellow swim coach this was a very insightful and interesting episode while at same time “difficult” to listen to at times. Terry Laughlin is certainly leaving a legacy in the swimming and coaching community.

    If you still into swimming, you might want to consider visiting a “The Tace Club” swim camp and learn from the great Gary Hall. Or you could also draw ideas and inspiration for your own sessions in from the loufts available on ProSwimWorkouts by coaches from around the world.

  54. Beautiful lessons Terry:

    1. “Trying to develop the whole person, not just the swimmer. We are trying to grow the whole person. Brain, psyche, and body.” Highlighting the fact that it’s hardly ever about the [insert relevant verb], and more often about the psychology of fear.

    2. “The more external turbulence I encounter, the more inner calm I must cultivate.” [insert Stoicism]

    To hear the mix of both frustration and fear as Terry stated, “I’m in a detached, almost clinical place” was gut-wrenching. Though I must admit, I was thoroughly impressed by the ability to talk about reteaching the brain to swallow properly whilst using words like “epiglottis”. [like Terry, like Tim]

    Terry, you have indeed left a legacy beyond time and space.


  55. Hi Tim

    Here I am in 2020, with the hardship of everything difficult this year has brought on to all of us and I stumble on to this episode. Well in fairness I’m going through all of them in reverse chronological order, but funny how this exact episode should find me at exactly the right time. I don’t know if you will ever see this, but I hope you don’t mind me doing a bit of journaling on your blog space here, please delete if necessary. But if you are there, or the off chance of anyone else reading this, I want this to be heard.

    This hit me hard. I have had some strong emotional reactions many times before listening to your show but this particular one hit right on point with everything in me. And I cry even now as I feel this immense need to write to you. I won’t go through everything I want to say, as it will not be of interest to anyone else and length would probably be closing in on your books. But seeing in all the comments you get, probably daily, the amount of gratitude people show you, I know I’m not alone. So thankfully I want to share this little story.

    Me now, as a 28y old guy, have also had problems with swimming to this day. I learned very late in my childhood but also had a surgery in my right ear around the same time which, for reasons forgotten to me, required me to wear a head band of sorts to be able to put my head under the water. Without it the water pressure from even the sleightest submerse would cause intense pain in my ear. So add this apparatus to a already shy, insecure and overweight ~8y old kid in a setting where other kids will definitely point you out and you have a life long problem. Or so I thought. Over the years I try it out couple of times, thinking the ear must have healed but no, always the pain. And not even as an adult have I wanted to get back to the head band or even moldable ear plugs for the fear of a leak so I just stay away from the water or if needed, use all my strength swimming in the worst possible position, desperately trying to keep my head above the waves. Then you and Terry come along. And listening to you both talk I decide I must get over this. I can’t be afraid or embarassed anymore. I need to learn to swim. So literally 2 hours ago I warm up the sauna, take a shower and fill up a bucket of water. I dip the left side of my head slowly and as the ear is submersed, all is good. So then the right side, even more slowly. And behold! Fully under the water and no pain!!!! What the actual ****?!?! I laughed and cried out loud. Tim and Terry did this, I thought over and over again. And I kept going in and out of the water and nothing happens. Oh the power of the mind, how foolish you have been all these years. But now the healing has begun and training will start.

    That’s my story. Thank you for reading. Next up Total Immersion and some pool time.

    Terry, where ever you are now, I wish the place has a decent pool. Thank you.

    Tim, I wish you all the best. Keep doing what you do, it truly is marvelous. Hope that I didn’t bring up any painful memories from the loss of your dear friend.

    Stay safe.

    Your friend from Finland


  56. Hello,
    I don’t seem to be able to find the extended version of the Tim Ferris Experiment episode about swimming that was announced at the end of the show as being accessible at fourhourworkweek.com/tv. Could you please help? Thanks!

    1. Hi, Konstantin –

      Thanks for your comment. The Tim Ferriss Experiment, as well as the related bonus material, isn’t currently available for streaming.


      Team Tim Ferriss