I wish you the best in your recovery. I am presently in physical therapy for a strained shoulder due to a non-swimming accident. But, I think they also found some accumulated limitation in range-of-motion from a full summer of swimming.
I think as a result of my present experience I will spend more time warming up my shoulders than I have in the past. As you know personally that TI drills can be a good way to get in the water and ease into a fullstroke workout. Try telling that to the average group of Masters swimmers tight for time in their schedules
I would be very interested to hear from you about any exercises or warm-up routine that you develop in the near future. Also, if there were any fine details related to technique you think contributed to rotator cuff wear that would be interesting too. I am particularly interested in the comment you made about keeping your "elbow close to your body" during freestyle swimming. I have been picking away at my technique seriously for the last year with the help of a TI freestyle workshop last spring. I also think you are very right about the elbow close to the body. I think you get more leverage late in the stroke, and would thereby reduce unneeded stress on the shoulder. But I am not sure what that looks like or how to blend that with TI technique.
After years of running, a little bit of Tri in '80's, and struggling in the water I came to TI in 2003 after I got back into Tri. I love the idea that I can do a Sprint and not feel any fall-out the next day compared to the pain I felt from running. But, at 53 I only do 1-2 Tri's per year but do cross train regularly.
Thank you for sharing your experience.