In reviewing these hints, my first thought might have been that this will only improve my pool times without impacting on my ability to swim faster in open water, which is my main problem and desire to improve upon.
However, in this past week, I've been reflecting on my turning mechanics which have been just terrible, and reviewing in my head the uncertainties I have where to put my hands as I get close to the wall, and how to initiate and actually make the turn. This mostly takes place as I lie there in bed after my alarm goes off, but before I'm ready to leave the bed to go to the pool lol. But it gives me valuable minutes for reflection and mental rehearsal for exactly how I'm going to negotiate the reach for the wall and the grab for the pool lip as I pull myself in for the turn.
As a result I'm starting to turn a lot more briskly now. This has resulted in a marked decrease in my times which means also my SPL, as I'm using a TT on descending 100s.
On reflection, after thinking this was only addressing my lost pride in repeatedly performing a really sloppy turn, I realise it actually has improved my stroke, because it stopped me from being tentative at the end of the length, where my ingrained tendency to feel fatigued and perform a floppy sloppy stroke was allowed to express itself. I also clarified my stroke counting strategy which had been falling into no-man's land at this point. This forced me to come up with an actual real number once I clarified to myself what would count as the last stroke (versus what would count as the strokes or beats involved in making the turn).
So did tidying up my turn mechanics actually improve my swimming as would be seen in improvement in consistent long and efficient strokes with no or less degradation on fatigue (as opposed to faster times in the pool, but no difference in open water)? I think yes, actually, which surprised me.
Another point was that now I'm picking up on my pride in getting and maintaining good (well better than before) measured times in the pool, it is forcing me to swim better and motivating me not to give in to fatigue and to allow my form to degrade as much as it has been doing before. This is a subtle point, which I would not have thought would have had any effect, but it has.
Lastly, the Emmett Hines articles castigating swimmers for poor streamline position on push-off in turns I have now taken to heart, whereas before I would have just dismissed it as a peripheral skill with no relevance to what I really want to get good at i.e. solid open water swimming. Why the change of attitude? Well firstly, I recognise and own the criticism. It's true, initially I have been so exhausted at the wall that I allowed myself to be dis-coordinated and confused in the turn with my body all flayed everywhere. Even as I improved my solidity of turn, it initially seemed "okay" not to have a perfect streamline, after all, a better streamline position wouldn't help my open water swimming anyway, I thought to myself, and besides it was a hassle and slightly painful to get my 68 year old arms tightly applied to my head...
But now, as I'm tightening up the snappy turn and push-off, I'm starting to take a kind of irrational pride in my ability to do it more like the experts do! So now I'm squeezing my arms to my head more, and the discomfort seems more worthwhile, whenever I can get my act together and time it just right. Same for eliminating the back arching -- well blow me, it really does make a bit of difference in glide speed when your trunk is a bit straighter!
All these incremental improvements do make a difference, not just in my pool distance times, but I think, and I'm not 100% sure of this yet, but also in my general swimming proficiency. I think that the attention to getting more glide speed in the push-off does feed over into awareness of swim velocity during regular stroke swimming, and conversely, awareness of involuntary velocity drops when something doesn't go quite right in some part of the body mechanics/stoke cycle. Or maybe it's better awareness of alignment and balance during the passive glide under water off the push-off, which may come to the same thing.
It's amazing where this journey leads as long as one is open to where it might take you!