I am a bit in the same position as you are, I started to learn freestyle three and a half years ago at the age of 55 and my only help is the 'Easy Freestyle' DVD, this forum, and I managed to put a camera on a startblock a couple of times.
And WFEGb aka Werner and I managed to meet last year and had a swim together. He also bought a underwater camera so I am looking forward to get some clips...
And - I was born in Bremen! My parents moved to Hamburg when I was 3 years old, now I am living between Hamburg and Kiel.
If I was to give you an advice I'd say: don't get fixated with SPL, and don't get fixated with speed. It is good to register the SPLs, so always count. But when you find that your SPL is high - don't try to fix it. Take it just as information (to quote Doc Sue aka Coach Suzanne).
The point is that when you go for SPL only at this early stage in your learning curve you have good chances to pick up bad habits that you will have to unlearn at a later stage.
Get fixated with balance, streamlining and the stroke itself.
- how is your balance when you swim really slow?
- do you relax and hang your head?
- do you lift your head when breathing?
- does your lead arm go down when you are breathing?
- do you over-rotate in breathing strokes?
- do your legs scissor kick, particularly in breathing strokes?
- are the legs quiet between kicks?
- are your hips up?
- do you pause before starting the recovery?
- do you recover with high elbow?
- does your hand enter splash-free and in the 'mail-slot'
There are many things to fixate on...
The first time I swam a lap in a 50m pool it took me 35 strokes. Now I might use 40 or more (or less), but my stroke is just so much better, I am faster and less exhausted. It is a big improvement although it doesn't seem to be when you just look at the SPL.
So, basically it means prioritizing long term benefits over short term benefits. But it is also important not to lose the fun in it.
Hang on in there...