First off, I was going to attempt to articulate all of it from various posts Gary Hall Sr. has made over the last year or so on the Slowtwitch forum... Low and behold I'm searching the archives for something else and Mr. Hall has started a "ten swimming myths busted" topic (link below) as it applies to the freestyle stroke.
In a nutshell he says (among other things): Focus on a strong efficient pull & don't get hung up on stroke rate.. Makes sense since at least 90% of the propulsion is derived from the entry/catch/pull phase..
The kick is tricky to get right, so much so that it's mostly a low ROI function of swim training, I'm not saying it's a poor use of time, heck, I've had some instruction on my poor "wooden" kick and it helped, I'm swimming easier & slightly faster for my test sets, for example I did a broken 1200 holding 1.25/100y- that's close to where I was last season and I was on 2/3rds more yardage for months and months- relative to now, that's a great improvement.
And frankly in Tri circles where the swim is concerned at least one prominent coach (Rich Strauss) preaches that once you're at 70min/IM swim fitness the best ROI in terms of race performance, (where IM racing is concerned) is spent on the bike and run.
Implicit in this line of thought is that you're mostly limited by your pull strength and your limits are pretty finite, you'll approach some performance threshold that's not worth getting beyond via incremental improvements not related to a pull. Further, your speed is your speed, and that's kind of depressing because as that applies to shorter racing, you'll just have to deal with the gaps as 70min/IM'er racing Sprints and Olys once on the bike and run.
However, I think there is still something to be said about maintaining proper front quadrant mechanics via a pull that is finished properly and getting body position right, after all, as in my case those two pieces have helped me go mildly quicker with less effort.