It's not clear from your post what you mean by "just starting out." I gather, if you are doing ocean swimming, that you are not really a beginner. Is that true? If so, what goals are you trying to achieve that are currently eluding you?
A very common thing I've heard from triathletes over the years is "I'm great at biking and running, but the swim leg of the race just kills me." What they are really saying is that the obstacle they are facing isn't fitness (if it were, they wouldn't be doing well at biking or running, either). The problem, instead, is that efficient swimming requires a significant amount of skill.
Water is a very dense medium when you're moving through it, but a very slippery medium when you're pushing against it. So efficient swimming is a combination of learning to minimize drag while maximizing propulsion. Minimizing drag is a combination of learning to be balanced in a horizontal position and learning to maintain a streamlined body shape while you're swimming. Maximizing propulsion is a combination of learning to hold onto the water more effectively and learning to power your stroke with your core body instead of just with your arms and legs.
If you don't have access to a TI coach, I'd suggest working through the drills in the 1.0 Effortless Endurance Self-Coaching Course, which is available through this site: