Bilateral Breathing in Swimming: What is It, and Should You Do it?

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We hear a lot about bilateral breathing, especially when it comes to distance swimming and triathlons.

What is it?

Simply, it means breathing to both sides when you swim freestyle, typically every 3 strokes.
1 stroke=1 arm pull or every time your hand enters the water.

Should you do it?

The short answer is “yes!”. For purposes of balancing out your stroke, easier navigation in the open water, and avoidance of shoulder injuries due to overuse, bilateral breathing in freestyle is optimal. HOWEVER, if you are a beginner, it is NOT necessary to learn to breath on both sides immediately. Most people have a stronger breathing side where they can get air more easily than their weaker side (I speak from experience!). When you are first learning freetyle, save bilateral breathing practice until the end- when you have mastered all the other parts of the stroke.

As we have covered, breathing is the hardest thing to do in freestyle swimming. So there is no reason to make your life more difficult than it has to be when you are learning swimming and putting it all together.