No I don't try to pull from the end of the spear anymore. I try to leave the muscles of the stroking arm relaxed until the catch is in a good position.
To put that another way. If I want to 'cheat' my SPL I would start applying force the second a single finger nail is pointing towards the bottom of the pool.
If I wanted to avoid shoulder pain and hopefully sustain stroke integrity over a longer distance, I'll wait till I've got to my version of a 90deg bent elbow before turning on the power (probably nearer 130 in reality).
I've actually had 8 or 9 swims in the last 2 weeks
I'm doing a little 50m PB experiment. Trying to improve my fastest time over 2 lengths without resorting to the extreme muscle engagement mentioned above.
I put my tempo trainer on 0.28 and swim 3 beeps on my head down stroke and 4 beeps on my breathing stroke, so a very deliberate lope.
Another way of putting this is I'm stroking at 0.84 on my right arm and 1.12 on my left.
At this curious setting If I have a 2 stroke push off, hold 17 SPL and turn on 1 stroke I swim a length in precisely 70 beeps.
At a tempo setting of 0.28 this gives me a 50m time of 38.08 ((70*0.28)+(66*0.28)) which is as fast as I've ever swum 50m in the last 4 years.
The great part is it's very repeatable, I've been able to do one or two repeats each day this last week.
It's also improvable in small increments as all I need to do to take 0.28 off this time is sacrifice one or more of my 'lazy' breath strokes.
The longer glide on the breathing stroke holds my system in the aerobic zone, which in turn let's me maintain consistent stroke length over the whole 50, but as my sprint specific fitness improves I'll start to take back some of those extra beeps.
In Theory, with 8 breathing strokes per lap my 50m time has another 4.48 seconds to improve before I'm swimming with an even rhythm on both sides.
Once I get there I would repeat the entire process at 0.27 and so on.
I'll report how far I get before Xmas but it's already taken me out of a 2014 rut as I was stuck on 45s for 10 months before this latest intense session.
You've got to love the plateau.