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'You're getting very speedy': Woburn hypnotist helps teen swimmer cut his time

By Tenley Woodman Monday, September 27, 2004 (An article printed in The Boston Herald)

When Swampscott teen Craig Lewin needed to shave seconds off his race time in the pool, he opted for an alternative training method: hypnotism.

"My problem was that I had all the skills to swim, but I needed to cut 9 or 10 seconds off my time. I had the ability to do it, but I'd get in to swim and I couldn't get any faster," said the 18-year-old Boston College freshman. That's when he turned to Tom Nicoli, a board certified hypnotist in Woburn. "The hypnotism was more to not be self-conscious so I wouldn't have to think about it. It helped me relax and have confidence," Lewin said. Lewin not only beat his own high school record, but he is now a member of BC's Division I swim team.

Nicoli has been practicing hypnotism for 18 years and is board certified with the National Guild of Hypnotists. He has been featured on NBC's "Dateline" for helping a Quincy man shed pounds for his high school reunion, and he recently helped former "Average Joe: Hawaii" contestant Donato Ventresca lose weight.

"Hypnosis assists the individual to do what they already desire automatically. One part of the process using hypnosis is to find why they have this anxiety," Nicoli said. "People just shy away from the word because it's not explained well enough or is misunderstood."

Myths about hypnotism include a swinging pocket watch, a deep voice with a slow cadence and clients on the couch in a deep slumber. Nicoli uses none of these.

"One of the misconceptions is it's mind control, or a quick fix. It's a wonderful tool, but it must be applied," he said. Nicoli's clients are given CDs to practice self-hypnosis to maintain their focus.

Like hypnotism, sports psychology teaches athletes about deep visualization and relaxation skills. But Lewin said hypnotism was the only enhancement technique that worked for him. ``One of my friends did it (sports psychology). He improved, but it wasn't the big improvement I wanted," Lewin said.

Tom Nicoli, BCH, CI, who is referenced in this article, is a regular contributor to this blog. For more information visit:

Posted: 01/12/2007

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