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Total Immersion focuses on a handful of core principles that apply to any body moving through a fluid medium whether it be a boat, a submarine, an aquatic mammal or a fish. It emphasizes greater efficiency and lowered resistance by teaching drills and focal points that keep the swimmer's hips near the surface, reducing the drag profile of the body. Balance in the water refers to having hips, shoulders, and head all level with the surface of the water. The body acts like a see–saw with the lungs as the fulcrum. Because the legs typically weigh more than the head and upper body, swimmers must focus on getting weight forward of the lungs in order to bring the hips to the surface. Adjusting head position, usually by lowering it, and having the arms in front of the lungs by almost overlapping the timing of the stroke helps to balance the body in the same way a see–saw balances by adding weight to one side. This stroke timing is frequently called "front quadrant swimming".{

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