View Full Version : Changing sides... your breathing

April 25th, 2014, 03:07 PM
I got an email today about bilateral breathing and the more I read it, the more it got me thinking. I do 99% of my breathing on the right side. In fact at last weekend's OW swim, the bouys were all left turns and the only time I made a concious effort to breathe to that side was around the turns (mainly to stretch my neck a bit at a point that made sense.)

After reading this blog as well as some other stuff, I might be convinced to make an efffort to breathe left for longer periods. Has anyone else trained themselves to breathe on their "bad" side and did you see any unexpected improvments like this guy did in his blog? http://www.feelforthewater.com/2013/03/joel-uses-his-bad-side-to-come-good.html I realze that breathing every 3 strokes makes sense to keep balanced, but what about completely switching sides?

April 25th, 2014, 03:48 PM
I am a dominant left-side breather. The first open water 10k I did, I started getting pain in my neck from always turning to the left, so I started breathing a bit to my right. I was drafting someone and I noticed when I'd breath to my right for a few strokes (mostly to relive the pain in my neck), I would unexpectedly get up closer on them, so perhaps I was moving faster.

I try to breath bilaterally as often as I can, and I'm fairly comfortable doing so over short distances, but as soon as I start to fatigue, it's always back to breathing only on my left.

I haven't really ever timed myself by doing repeats breathing to one side then to the other to see if one way is faster. This post just inspired me to do so though! Thanks for posting it!

I'm Interested in hearing what others have to say about the subject.

April 25th, 2014, 03:58 PM
Yes. I was always a natural left breather (even though I am right-handed). When I returned to swimming after 31 years, I joined USMS and read the Forums to pick up some tips on technique and avoiding repetitive stress injuries. After experiencing several RSI's and having a major shoulder surgery for one of them, the last thing I wanted to do was get injured in the pool!

I taught myself how to breathe on the right which was frustrating at first. I kept getting water in my ear and had to use an ear plug for the longest time until I got my head angle right. It was quite uncomfortable for me until I finally got it right.

I need to breathe every stroke, so I typically breathe to the left when I go down the pool and breathe to the right coming back. This is how I keep the muscles in my shoulders and neck balanced.

In a race that is any longer than a 50, I will do the same thing with the exception of the last 50 in a 400 IM.

During open water swims, I will take turns breathing on each side depending on where my competition is and where the buoys are.

Definitely give it a shot, flystorms. It may be uncomforable at first, but you'll get used to it. :agree:

April 25th, 2014, 04:04 PM
The 1st thing you will notice is the BIG difference in your pull! You think you a balanced till you do bi breathing. It is good for your neck but BETTER to learn how your stroke works & make it better.

April 25th, 2014, 09:39 PM
It's also a good idea to practice breathing to each side, as in breathing to the weak side for a longer set, so that in OW you'll be prepared for being able to not stare at the sun if it is on your strong side. I have the team swim 200's and mix up breathing sides each report (every 3, weak, strong, etc).

April 26th, 2014, 11:14 AM
One of the keys to efficient swimming includes maintaining symmetry and balance in the water. You want both sides of your body to be equally strong and efficient. Bilateral breathing is an integral part of this concept. The ability to breathe on both sides is not only useful - allowing you to see what's on both sides of you as you race - but also ensures that you maintain an even distribution of proper technique and strength.

However, you need to be careful about how and when you use the bilateral breathing technique, especially if you are not fully prepared for it. Bilateral breathing can actually slow you down if you only use it during races instead of practicing it consistently during workouts. In order to use bilateral breathing as a strategy, you need to practice it such that it becomes more of a habit. Then, you can employ bilateral breathing whenever you want during the race to maximize its potential.

April 26th, 2014, 03:54 PM
I agree with above, you should not try anything new in a race if it's for time. Practice whatever it is many times before race day.

April 28th, 2014, 01:25 PM
Thank you all for such good insight. Was out sick most of last week with a cold after posting this. So happy to see so many ideas and thoughts on this. Tried it a bit on a long swim this morning in a set of 10x100. I purposely worked on the left side. It feels so awkward and I noticed I really had to thing about arm position. The good thing was that it felt worse than the timing came to be. It ended up being at about the same speed as my dominant side. Going to make a concisous effort to do more of this in practice, like you said. I may suggest to my coach we do some incorporation of the off-side as well to see what he thinks. I'll try to remember to post back in about a month to see how times/feelings have changed. Interesting stuff!

April 28th, 2014, 03:14 PM
I began breathing bilaterally nearly ten years ago. After several months it finally began to feel natural. For me the benefit has been a more balanced stroke and fewer shoulder problems. As for speed, I recently swam a PR in the 1650 breathing bilaterally.

April 28th, 2014, 05:49 PM
I began breathing bilaterally nearly ten years ago. After several months it finally began to feel natural. For me the benefit has been a more balanced stroke and fewer shoulder problems. As for speed, I recently swam a PR in the 1650 breathing bilaterally.
Nice! Congratulations :)