Bilateral Breathing

You may have heard some coaches harp on the "Bilateral Breathing".  There a several reasons why bilateral breathing is important:

  1. Helps to keep your stroke more symmetrical which can result in:
    • A straighter path to swim in.  Not a big deal for pool swimmers as they at most have to swim 50 meters, not to mention just follow the line on the bottom of the pool.  But for open water swimmers and triathletes, they need to swim straight since there is no guide to follow, and often overrely on sighting especially if they struggle swimming in a straight line.

    • Less strain on one side of the body.  If you are swimming a sprint distance or 1 mile distance, you may get away with being able to crank out that distance without straining one side of your body, but if you swim a marathon distance and only breath to one side, eventually the lack of symmetry will strain your body and you will suffer.

    • A more relaxed and efficient stroke

  2. Enable you to "choose" which side you breath on.  If you happen to encounter chop from the wind and face huge swells coming into you on the side that you breathe, you may get a mouth ful of water on many occasions, and unless you know how to breath comfortably on the other side, you may be stuck with a miserable experience. 
  3. The need to sight in the open water (which will be its own topic), will be less frequent if you are swimming in a straight line.  Less sighting = more efficiency in the water.  Sighting interrupts your rhtyhm in your stroke if you do it too often, and also may introduce a strain in your neck.  

Here's an excellent video from Swim Smooth, demonstrating the swimmers who struggle with swimming in a straight line.  Had they been able to swim straight they would have cut minutes off their swim time, without any extra effort.

Think you're a master at bilateral breathing?  Test your skills by taking coach Gords' Blind Swim Challenge.  Talk to Gords for more details or to arrange a test.

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