Yurtie sent me this image of South African swimmer Ryk Neethling and for some reason it stuck in my mind this morning. I hadn't really studied it, I just had a mental impression of it.
Somehow, both subliminally and consciously, it told me that the leading arm needs to be stretched WAY out during the stroke, punching a hole in the water. And that it needs to be there when the other arm is in the middle of the power stroke. And all the while the body is being rotated on its axis.
To achieve this before I think I tried to slow down the power stroke so that my hand wouldn't get down toward my legs too fast. This time I think I speeded up my recovery arm to get it stretched out straight faster.
I also latched on to a mental image of tunneling through the water like a corkscrew, which kept me conscious of that important body rotation.
Result? Over a minute off my best recent 500m time at the same effort level. 13:47 for 500m, 8% faster than I did it 11 days ago. I was also consistently down to about 14 (one-sided breathing) to 15 strokes (bilateral breathing) per 25m pool length.
Last August (last time I counted) I was doing about 19 strokes per 25m pool length. Some elite freestyle swimmers do about 13 strokes per 25m pool length. So 14 - 15 is not shabby at all!
This technique stuff actually works! Who knew!?