Ask Coach Sara: What Is A Normal Breathing Pattern?

Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach Sara McLarty.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach Sara McLarty.

Q: I change my breathing pattern as I swim. Is there a normal pattern or is everyone different? —@Lingle8Mark

A: There is no “correct” breathing pattern. However, I do recommend that you become comfortable breathing on both sides (bilateral) of your body. You can do this by breathing every third stroke, which alternates sides every breath. If you need to breathe more often, try breathing to your right side for one length and your left side for the next length of the pool. Breathing three times to the right and three times to the left is also a well-balanced pattern. Do what is comfortable for you!

RELATED: A Better Way To Breathe

Q: If I literally just touch and go on the walls, what am I missing out on by not doing flip-turns (besides looking cool)? —@TriHollywood

Flip-turns, other strokes, underwater streamline and diving into the water are all ways to be a more comfortable and well-rounded swimmer. On one hand, none of those things is required for a triathlon. On the other hand, every race is different and can present unexpected challenges. Breaking out of your comfort zone in the controlled environment of a pool and learning a new skill, like blowing air out of your nose when upside-down underwater, can save you from panic on race day. Plus, when you’re in the pool you might as well act like a swimmer!

RELATED – Coach Debate: Do Triathletes Have To Flip Turn?

Q: Why does the pull with my left arm feel stronger than my right arm, even though I am right-handed? —Laura Rodier

A: A common cause of stroke imbalance is single-sided breathing. If you predominantly breathe to the right side, your left arm will do a majority of the work under the water. Single-sided breathers rarely rotate their breathing-side arm deep enough into the water to perform a strong pull. To develop a stronger and more even pull, practice breathing on both sides and rotating your torso to 45 degrees on both sides.

RELATED – Is The High-Elbow Pull Best For The Freestyle Swim Stroke?

More “Ask Coach Sara.”

Pro triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty has 25-plus years of experience and knowledge about swimming mechanics, efficiency and technique.

Got a swimming question? Coach Sara wants to help. Just tweet your queries to @SaraLMcLarty.

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.