If you are able to breath to one side WHILE maintaining good form, then more power to you. However, very few people can do this. Bilateral breathing is seen as a must have skill, a must do with regards to technique.
The problem with only breathing to one side is that your form can become unbalanced and your weak side can have minute flaws, like crossing over and a low elbow, that will slow you down, or not provide enough power. Moreover, when only breathing to one side and breathing every other stroke like so many do, you do not completely exhale and thus breath out partially when you rotate to breath.
This last bit is incredibly problematic because your heart rate and rate of perceived exertion will rise without an increase in speed or effort. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually swim more smoothly, with less effort but still get faster?
Being able to undertake bilateral breathing is a skill that will allow you to swim straighter. Remember, if you’re pull is uneven and unbalanced, then without a black line to follow swimming in open water you are more likely to go awry. With your hands pulling in different directions, and with differing levels of power, staying on course requires a lot more care and consideration.
I don’t try and encourage bilateral breathing with my clients and swimmers, but I do teach them the skills to be able to breath both directions with ease. This means that in bad weather with waves and wind – or even in very sunny weather – that you can breath to an easier side and hopefully more freely.
How To Do It
Swim sets of 5*25 with plenty of recovery – 20 to 30s each – Do the first with no breathing (or as far as you can manage). Then for 2-5, swim with breaths every 9 strokes, then 7, then 5, then 3. What you will find is that rather than trying to rush through the strokes each breath, you will be more comfortable and more successful when you take a little more time and control over your strokes. By swimming slightly slower, you will use less oxygen, and feel less panicked. This in turn will help you be more relaxed and smoother about your stroke as a whole.
How To Do It Really Well
Focus on driving hip rotation – this will give you the space to breath into.
Turn your chin toward your shoulder rather than trying to lift your head – this will be the easiest way to get your mouth out of the water.
Turn your head to breath as your hand comes under your nose – this will give you the time to breath in properly rather than feeling rushed when your hand recovers back over the water.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.
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