Terry, great overview of the history!
I am wondering if Popov (et al) also contributed to establish the body roll or rotation in freestyle. It was introduced by Mark Spitz, I think.
90 years of unchanged freestyle technique seems to have an impact.
I found the following in a German Q&A forum (where anyone can ask and anyone can answer), these were I think from 2007 or 2008, and I post it here (from my memory) for entertainment:
Q: Do you rotate in backstroke in the same way as you do in front-crawl?
A: No. You don't rotate in backstroke at all. In frontcrawl you only rotate with the shoulders, not with the hips.
Q: Unfortunatley I got the good advice that I am rotating too much in freestyle. What can I do to prevent rotation?
A: No problem, take a pullbouy, but it between your legs and then you are stable like a board in the water, resp. you can keep yourself straight. You can practice a straight position in water like this (I also use arm paddles at the same time to train my arms).
The freestyle I watch in German pools is to a astonishing large extent devoid of any modern influence on freestyle technique. Since we talk about the last 20 years of freestyle development this is not only surprising but also a shame.
Originally Posted by terry
...If you remain unable to swim freestyle with the same ease, and for the same relatively limitless distance, as breaststroke, it's because you have not yet truly mastered Balance. If you want to overcome this limitation, I suggest you devote 100 percent of your practice to Balance driils and whole-stroke with Balance thoughts.
I have some doubts. Not that my balance is perfect, but after about 100-150 hours of my TI-way of learning freestyle I felt that my balance did improve greatly, I got the feeling that I start to have balance and body control. But my breathing still is not good.
My breathing problem (which I also don't have in breaststroke) is IMHO more related to the breathing technique itself. At the moment I practice balance and breathing only, no practice with TT. I do rather slow strokes and put my focus on a non-lifting rotation to air, which often ends in not getting air, but water. If I make it to the wall and had a good 'bite' of air in each breathing stroke, I am not winded at all and can start with the next lap right away. But if I missed air a couple of times I get winded. Also it took me some time to get used to getting a certain amount of water in my mouth while breathing, not trying to avoid that but simply to 'spit' it out under water and keep going. But I certainly don't like to get water in my mouth while breathing.
So I changed my approach. I now try to maintain a 'good' breathing technique and try to enlarge the number of times where I get air and not water instead of trying to get air no matter how the technique is. I have the feeling that having a good and stable breathing technique is crucial for swimming longer distances.
And of course not getting air is to some degree related to balance issues. But also I think just practicing balance alone does not resolve breathing issues, practicing a good breathing is also essential. This might of course be different for different individuals.
But I will try the mixing of FR and BR, that sounds interesting.