Originally Posted by AWP
If we're to segment technique, however, I'd put balance #1.
A case in point, there is a gent that swims at the local Y, a life long swimmer, strong and fit but with sort of 'lousy' technique (not all aspects). He is reasonably 'fast' but more important it seems he can sustain this for long periods. How? His balance is very good. His body position in the water is perfectly horizontal lying just below the surface. He does, in my opinion, work too hard for what he gets but that is where technique comes in.
I sometimes share a lane on Sunday mornings with someone like that. Swimming with Dave-The-Human-Washing-Machine is good practice for waves and chop in open water because he works so hard
. I'm talking 37-40 strokes per length for half an hour, as fast as he can churn. He looks way fitter than me but can't quite keep up, he's presently about 2-3 seconds slower per length than my cruising speed. If he ever stopped to ask me why I do those silly looking drills to warm up I'd lose him as a wave machine because I'm sure a little technique work would have him swimming faster than me in very little time.
I think that physique probably becomes important at the very highest level of the sport, in elite swimmers. Even then, there were the Janet Evanses, who didn't fit the mold.