I may be a littler slower at this than I had hoped. I still can't do more than 2 laps and it's been over a month.
Good stuff jarude. Thanks.
I started doing more playing around and less worried about lap swimming. I notice I actually swim further with less exhaustion--by which I mean I feel like I catch my breath by simply doing side glides like you described and just holding out one arm and kicking and switching arms to breath... kind of hard to describe, basically just practicing kicking without kick board. It's when I want to start doing what I see everyone else do the front crawl or freestyle that I can't catch my breath.
I notice it really is about being relaxed and just plain getting feel for water, which is easier said than done. I went 5 days without practice or pool, and wow, I noticed a difference, just when I thought I wouldn't feel clumsy anymore I had to acclimate again to being in water. I will stay committed this summer, hopefully I find a year round pool and I muster up will to keep practicing at least once a week.
I was kind of the same way. I would be stuck at a couple of laps in a row and then all of a sudden I'd do 5. Then slip back, and then do 6. Etc... It seemed to come in spurts.
I have to breathe with every stroke and I also, as you mentioned, have trouble relaxing. The more I did it the more relaxed I got. Unfortunately, I've really only mastered breathing out of one side. I've tried both but like with most sports I have one "good" side and one "bad" side.