Everything To Know About Bilateral Breathing

Challenge yourself to develop your non-breathing side with these drills and tips.

There are multiple reasons triathletes can benefit from being able to comfortably breathe to both sides while swimming. Breathing bilaterally helps create an even stroke, which moves a swimmer straighter through the water. A more balanced stroke will build muscles evenly, making an athlete less likely to have injury. And breathing away from the wind, waves, chop, and sun can be way more pleasant on race day.

Challenge yourself to develop your non-breathing side with these drills and tips:

1. Improve neck flexibility with light stretching and massage.

2. Pay attention as you take a breath to your dominant side. Compare and contrast your movements and technique with your weaker side. Notice if you are doing anything differently.

3. Breathing technique becomes easier as you move faster through the water. Try swimming with fins to provide an easy boost in speed.

4. Try a Hesitation Drill during your weak-side breath. Pause as your head is turned to the side and make sure your opposite arm is reaching straight forward and not pulling under your body.

5. Check the timing of your movements. You should begin to roll your head to the side as that arm passes under the same shoulder.

The breathing pattern

Bilateral breathing is often mistaken as breathing every third stroke. This can overwhelm some athletes who need to breathe more often. Fortunately, these two concepts are not synonymous. There are an infinite number of breathing patterns that allow you to breathe to both sides evenly. One example is to swim one length of the pool while breathing to the left side only, followed by one length of the pool breathing to the right side only. A common breathing pattern is 2–4 breaths on the right side, followed by one cycle of three strokes, and then 2–4 breaths on the left side. This frequent switch allows you to observe what is happening all around you during the race but still maintain a manageable