I just watched a video done by Swim Smooth on the variety of stroke rates among freestylers:
I think he made some good points, that not everyone HAS to swim with a long stroke in order to be efficient in the water and perfect their triathlon swim technique. Now, what is not emphasized is that these fast turnover swimmers all come from a competitive swimming background. They have strokes that they spent many years and yards in the pool perfecting in order to swim fast in the pool. Sometimes these competitive swimmers with short choppy strokes become triathletes, and will no doubt finish in the top pack of the swim leg.
The main point here, however, is that these are people that have a long history of swim practice to get really good at the stroke they have developed.
Compare that to a beginning or intermediate level triathlete who did not come from a swimming background. Is your goal to finish up in the front of the swim, or to get through it without having lost too much energy or too much time? Does it make sense to copy these elite swimmers or to stick with a long stroke where you are at the very least going to conserve what you need to excel in the bike and run?
So this debate comes down to what will be the most efficient stroke that one can learn and master in the least possible time. While I agree that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to general swimming, in triathlon swimming, where most people do NOT have hundreds of thousands of yards under their belt with a fast stroke, sticking to the concepts that will help lengthen out your stroke will be much more effective in accomplishing your triathlon goals, even if that means just finishing the race.