I started with freestyle autumn last year, so I never did freestyle strokes before and learned it through the 'Easy Freestyle' DVD. When I did my first full lap of strokes I already used sort of a 2bk, because you just learn it through the drills. There was a lot of movement of the legs in between due to balance problems. That is now a lot better. Sometimes I try to swim a lap with flutter kicks, basically I extend my 2bk and do 2 extra kicks in between the 'normal' kicks, it actually converts into a 6bk. I am always amazed how much extra propulsion it gives and how much it tires me. I am always glad to go back to my 2bk.
I learned the freestyle with a 2bk, and I think the whole point is simply to learn it. Once it works, it works automatically and, yes, it is a lot more relaxed than flutter kicks. If you want to have an efficient stroke movement, you need a kick anyway when the hand of the other side enters the water. The point is maybe when you don't have a coordinated kick it is more difficult to learn it. But once you got it a 2bk is very easy to do. And so relaxing...
Breathing every 2nd or 3rd stroke.
Whatever works. I notice that breathing on every 3rd makes my strokes more symmetric, but sometimes I need more air, then I do it every second stroke. I don't see a principle or philosophical question here.
Originally Posted by fjconti72
(not that I want to use elite athletes as an example, I just wanted to double-check).
Why not? They are good example for proper and effective technique, and that is what we should go for. Not everybody is able to reach the fitness level of a worldclass swimmer, but everybody can come close to a very efficient and high level swimstroke. It's just a different focus when swimming.
So basically, I would take any advice, check it and do whatever works best. And best is always that what is most relaxed and efficient.