Newbie here, so take this or leave it! LOL!
If you are studying Total Immersion swimming, then you will learn to use the kick primarily as an assist to rotation and not so much for propulsion, if I may.
Learning proper balance, or body position, comes first, of course. You absolutely need to minimize the drag that sinking hips and legs creates. As Coach McDougal pointed out, the pullbuoy was correcting your body position and eliminating drag. That is why it took fewer strokes per lap. Without the pullbuoy, legs and hips sank and drag was increased.
But even if you do correct body position it sounds like you are expecting to get a degree of propulsion from your legs/kick.
If you look at the elite swimmers who have a propulsive kick, you will notice two things, namely they have huge feet and they have exceptional foot/ankle flexibility, both of which allow the foot to act more effectively as a flipper.
If you are like me and have more limited ankle flexibility, your feet are just not going to be in a position to propel you all that much.
Last edited by novaswimmer : 03-09-2017 at 10:04 PM.