A very good lesson this morning with Jim B. We worked through the same stuff from last week, which gradually came mentally more clear to me! And he had good advice again about the race itself.
(He suggests coming back for one more tuneup lesson in the middle of the summer, do a lot of drill and such in the meantime. This seems to me good...)
So the single biggest thing remains this question of maintaining decent body position. Let head and neck relax, don't jerk head slightly up out of the water when breathing. In a way it's almost easier doing these drills on my habitual non-breathing (left-hand) side, not so many bad habits to break. The hips really fall down in the water when I do this. Really the huge insight I took away from last week's lesson was that it is very easy, as we go along with things in life, to rationalize a bad habit on the grounds that it's psychologically comfortable and therefore worth the cost. The thing last week's lesson showed me is that if the cost of a bad habit is very high, it must be broken...
The drill set that I can take away and work through, all with this goal of having good body position and rotation, turning from the hips (this is the other most important thing, & not what I am good at), keeping head and neck in neutral position when turning to breathe, keeping stroke long in the water.
(Really I have again forgotten the exact sequence, I might be missing one, but it's along these lines...)
Start out finding stable buoyant position vertically in the water, then put arms forward in streamline and start kicking; rotate from hips onto back to breathe. Right, left (with opposite hand at side).
Kick 6 and 6--6 on each side, rotating upwards for a breath (from hips!) and then back down and onto opposite side.
(Keep feeling of front hand being really stretched out. Do one pair of lengths with back arm floating forward underwater, then another pair with above-water recovery.)
Then 6 - 3 - 6, but do it a couple times if the rotation/pull from hips isn't happening right. Focus on body position. Don't jerk head up when breathing!
Then do some 25s of swim, keeping all this in mind: the long reach forward, the turn from the hips both on the recovery part of the stroke, the turn from the hips to come back into the water. Don't lead with arm/shoulder, lead with hips.
Breathe a little earlier in the stroke than seems plausible, especially on left-hand side--this significantly helps with body position.
Avoid tendency to pull up with elbow and rotate too far over--concentrate on having a long 'back' part of the stroke, with hand at the end of the stroke really coming alongside the thigh.
He is very certain that I should switch to bilateral breathing on a regular basis, maybe for all the time. I can see a glimpse of how much it would potentially balance my stroke. I'll do it in these warmup bits over the next week and a half and see how I feel. I thought it might be a bit much to try and switch over so close to race time, but he suggested maybe trying to do it for the first third or so of the swim--I think that is possible, I will see how it goes.
OK, that's enough for now. A lot of things to concentrate on. Swimming is the thinking person's sport! Nothing to do but strive to become better at it, there is a huge amount of room for improvement I must say...