In early February 2008, just over four years ago, Shinji Takeuchi, founder of TI Japan and now CEO of TI everywhere, swam some laps in the 7th floor pool at the Skyfit Club in the Funabori district on Tokyo’s west side. A video camera recorded Shinji’s strokes, which–as of today–have become a part of swimming history. On that day, Michael Phelps was the most-recognized, most-decorated swimmer in the world, perhaps in history. Shinji was a complete unknown with a singularly beautiful stroke.
Over the next few days, Shinji edited that video into a sort of home movie with a catchy beat–and hypnotic images. On Feb 15, 2008 he posted it to Youtube. On that day, Michael Phelps was not only the fastest swimmer in the world, he was far-and-away the most ‘popular’ on Youtube. Shinji’s video received little notice and few views at first, but gradually went viral. He began to gain ground on Phelps–as no one does in the pool–slowly at first, then faster and faster.
Today, four years and not-quite four months after posting, Shinji became the World’s #1 Youtube Swimmer!
The obvious question: How did a mid-40s, physically-average, husband, father, and CEO of three companies–who only began swimming in his late 30s–bypass Michael Phelps — the world’s most famous swimmer and most-decorated Olympic athlete in history, who seems to have been swimming since he was barely out of diapers — to become the most-popular swimmer on Youtube?
I can suggest two reasons:
When you view Phelps, you see something familiar — swimming as sport. You also know you can never aspire to swim like him.
When you view Shinji, you see something rare – swimming as art. And you think: If I practice like he did, maybe I can swim like Shinji.
If you’d like to practice as Shinji did, you’ll find the steps he followed on the TI Self-Coached Workshop DVD.