Last week I discussed the importance of exhaling when your face is in the water. This week I will examine inhalation and bilateral breathing.
Bilateral breathing is simply breathing to your left and right as you swim. Most people will have a favorite side and swim all their laps to one side. My preferred side is to the right. After swimming unilaterally for decades I decided to commit to bilateral breathing. Why? I wanted to develop my body and stroke symmetry. I noticed I could easily rotate my torso to my right but I was stiff to the left. And that my left shoulder would hurt more than my right after long bouts of training undoubtedly due to the stress of constantly breathing to the right. If you are experiencing shoulder pain bilateral breathing could help until you can get your stroke analyzed.
Other benefits of bilateral breathing include swimming straighter, better view of competitors and drafting opportunities, and an option of breathing away from sun glare or chop.
Swimming to your non-dominant side at first will feel as awkward as brushing your teeth with your other hand, something I have been doing since the new year. But if you stick with it it will get easier and you will have a new weapon in your swim arsenal.
Try this drill set the next time you’re at the pool.
4x100 - 25 yrds breathe to right/ 25 yrds breathe to the left/ 50 breathe every 3 strokes focusing on exhalation (bubble, bubble, breathe from last weeks blog).
If breathing every 3 strokes turns into a struggle, try swimming breathing 3/2/3/2.
Drills are meant to be swum at a speed that is comfortable to perform the drill properly, so slow down if need be and get it right!