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Principles of Zen Swimming

Shaw method based Zen Swimming applies principles of Hellerwork & the Alexander Technique to swimming. Thousands of people have transformed their experience of the water through this integrated approach, which cultivates a fine balance between power, grace and efficiency. Zen in the art of Swimming!

Each stroke is broken down into a series of progressive movements, enabling pupils to work on the essential elements of the stroke and to unlearn unhelpful habits. Hands-on direction, demonstrations, dry land practices and clear verbal guidance are combined in an innovative form of instruction.

Whatever your ability, the Method offers a unique opportunity to develop core swimming skills and explore aquatic movement in a positive learning environment. General body awareness is developed, promoting good alignment while minimising the risk of strain or injury.

teaching the timing of the arms in the front crawl

Zen swimming core principles

  • What you do with your arms and legs must not interfere with what you do with your head, neck and back. Body position is king!
  • Undue effort in the non-propulsive parts of the stroke undermine the propulsive parts. Understanding this distinction is the key to effortlessness.
  • Always co-ordinate breathing with the stroke. Perfect the timing of the arms first & then the breathing will be stress free. Breathe out slowly through the mouth when your face is in the water
  • Work in the water should always be supported by dry land practice.
  • The greatest difficulty for adult learners is trying too hard, but effective swimming is more about learning to let go than it is about doing more, so learn to relax in the water and enjoy the glide!
Hands-on guidance is a big part of the Zen swimming approach

More On Zen Swimming

Would you like to be able to swim better? For many years, like a lot of people, I could only swim 1 or 2 lengths of front crawl without needing to revert to breaststroke. I also resisted going to the pool - do you know that feeling? You have a conversation with yourself and come up with all the reasons not to go - it's cold, you are tired, you just had your hair done (that one's a girl thing by the way), you don't like chlorine, you prefer the ocean etc etc. By the time you have had that whole conversation with yourself it might be 2 weeks or 2 months or even 2 years before you manage to get your body into the water, and you do it out of guilt, or because you 'should' or need to, rather than want to.  Then, when you finally get there you sort of enjoy it, but not enough to get over this vicious circle of the mind, which then starts all over again!


Every time I went swimming I would TRY to swim more front crawl & I never improved!!! Then I discovered that it was not  fitness but technique that was holding me back. Trying harder wasn't the answer! As my technique improved I was able to swim further and my fitness improved naturally - a virtuous rather than a vicious circle. Plus I actually started to enjoy swimming! A green light went on somewhere in my bodymind. I would come out of my office not exactly having decided what to do and my legs took me to the pool, my body overruled my brilliant mind!!! Swimming became a pleasure and the positive feedback  encouraged me further! Every time I go swimming I experience well-being, calmness & continuing improvement. Zen in the art of swimming!

This might happen to you! I have a great way to discover the joy of swimming. I can teach you a new and sustainable way of swimming all the strokes including butterfly, regardless of how much or how little you think you already know! (In fact the less you know, the better!*) The Shaw Method applies the Alexander Technique to your use of your body in the water. Through a series of progressive practices which have been developed over twenty years, The Shaw Method can transform your experience of swimming.

The Shaw Method is about swimming for life and for health. Zen Swimming!

Swimming that’s really good for you, your back & your neck!

Individual or small group Swim Lessons at The Marriott 140 Park Lane, a fabulous pool for teaching; quiet, warm, constant depth 1.2m, deck level, poolside showers and steam room, salty water (poolsan system - low chlorine).

Out of town at St. Margaret's School, Bushey, Herts. Another very quiet pool, 25m in length, very clean, deck level

Doctor Posture is also available to meet you at the pool or ocean of your choice (you pay expenses)!

*It is not about improving existing skills, it is a more fundamental reconstruction. The un-learning of existing habits which are getting in the way of your improvement is far harder to achieve than the installation of new habits from scratch! Truly, what gets in the way is trying TOO hard to get it right! Better to do the right thing wrong than the wrong thing right!!


Each element of each stroke is broken down into a series of movements, some of which can be practiced both on land and in the water to aid the learning process. This is a more fundamental reconstruction than the standard approach. It assumes nothing. With a combination of verbal explanation of the principles, demonstration in the water, hands-on guidance and practices we can change the way you are being in the water. The 'doing' of swimming is then transformed from a boring and tiring chore to a 'sensational' experience!

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More About Roger

Roger Golten trained first with Joseph Heller (Body of Knowledge Inc.) in 1983 and Steven Shaw (Art of Swimming Ltd) in 1996. Now he is known as Doctor Posture, Hellerwork Practitioner, Zen Swimming Master, and author of The Owners Guide to the Body.

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