There is a lot of confusion about whether in freestyle it's better to breathe bilaterally or to breathe to one side, especially for new swimmers starting. In my experience as a swimmer and as a coach for many years, I believe bilaterally is the Feng Shui of breathing. Don't get me wrong, breathing one-sided has it place in swimming, and breathing patterns can definitely be played with, once an individual has mastered bilateral breathing. 

There are many reasons I could give you however today I list 3 that are a great starting point to think about the next time you jump in to swim.

1. Bilateral breathing gives you options.

Especially when we talk about open water swimming when you have wind, swell, waves, chop, currents, the glare of the sun, etc. and you're a one-sided breather, all of these elements can build up against you. It can cause distress with the amount of oxygen output one is getting, which causes a potentially dangerous outcome. 

If we teach bilateral from the beginning, and the elements put on a show, we can adapt quickly and make is a safe and happy space to be and to help you with the swim ahead. 

2. Better breathing flow.

Breathing every one breath does not allow you to empty your lungs which can for many swimmers put you nearly into a hypoxic state, leaving you exhausted after a few minutes. Breathing every four breathes can be too long await, which can cause a person to gasp for air which can leave a swimmer feeling anxious, dizzy, and again exhausted. Bilateral breath is challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it the breathing flow becomes fluid, with plenty of O2 and energy left in the tank.  

3. Muscular Balance (IN and OUT of water)

If you continue to breathe one-sided, the side that we breathe to all the time becomes tight and overdevelops muscularly. In contrast, the other side becomes more flexible and less muscle development which in turn causes a muscular imbalance which then creates a lot more opportunity for injuries. 

So go out and test how bilateral breathing feels and let me know how you go!

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