Home Chat General Chat

Bi-lateral breathing

Hi All

Being a novice at triathlon (completed my 1st sprint in sept) i'm seeking advice on whether or not bi-lateral breathing is that important.

I'm currently breathing every two strokes to the left, i'm comfortably covering 2-3 kms using this technique.(3kms just over an hour)

However when swimming with bi-lateral breathing its a real struggle to get any real distance.

When watching the highlights of the 70.3 and ironman on tv i noticed plenty breathing only to one side, and as i'm planning olympic and upward distances myself, is it worth persevering with bi-lateral??

I realise this question may have been asked many times, but would really appreciate any advice.

Many thanks



  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    its more of an ability to be able to breath to both sides. Many people when swimming in open water breath every 2 strokes so as to get lots of oxygen in! But say you are getting hit by waves or there was other swimmers close on one side, its good to have the ability to breath to the other side!

    Also, being able to breath to both sides should help to balance out your stroke.
  • Thanks for the reply Tommi

    I'm having a swim lesson tomorrow,so i'll ask him to work on the breathing
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314


    check out these two threads, more info on the subject.


  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Damn you, benny, with your infernal super-searching Belgian computers! Soon you will take over the world!! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha....! etc

    Anyway, seeing as benny is plugging his opinions, so will I: http://forum.220magazine.com/fwd.asp?messageID=13767

    Most people suggest that you try to train bi-laterally, as it really helps keep your stroke symmetrical, but there is no shame in swimming single sided if conditions, other swimmers, or oxygen needs in a race dictate it. I taught myself by swimming one length right, one length left... get the hang of that and suddenly you will feel much better about waves hitting you, the bloke next to you making a splash, the wind making it hard to breathe one way, you can even just breathe 'on-demand' on those long steady base-building swims.

    It really is an essential skill.

    Don't know about anybody else but when I settle down into a long 80% effort session I am about 1s per 25m faster breathing bi-laterally.
  • Thanks Benny and Bopomofo

    I was expecting people to say get the bi-lateral sorted, so i'll persevere[:D]

    Hope this swim coach i'm seeing tomorrow has a sense of humour!!
  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Also it helps you to go in a straight line
  • RockieRockie Posts: 40
    Where does that leave room for sighting, then? I do bi-lateral also but in open water, instead of breathing side to side, I'd alternate between one side and looking forward.

    Okay that's not very clear... instead of stroke-stroke-right-stroke-stroke-left, I'd go stroke-stroke-right-stroke-stroke-forward.

    Makes sense?
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Makes perfect sense.

    As the frog says, you swim straighter if you breathe bi-laterally, so you should need to sight a bit less. I throw a sighting breath in every four breaths (so every 12 strokes) or so when I'm training in OW.

    When racing, it is all on-demand.

    Another discussion point: when sighting, do you lift your head to the front to sight and breathe? I do it by turning for the breath as normal, then lifting forwards as my arm comes through to enter the water.

    How does everybody else sight? My way seems to work for me, but maybe because that single head-up stroke is quite similar to the head-up 'Tarzan' swimming that we drill quite a lot at my swim class. I'm pretty fast at that.

  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Tarzan drillis great open water practice.

    I'm with bopo on the breathing subject, all same technique for me.
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595

    I find I feel less dizzy after swimming if I have been breathing bi-laterally as well. Anybody else feel this as a benefit?
  • GGGG Posts: 82
    [:)] Hi Guys,

    After reading this thread I thought id try it out at the pool. Im happy to report that it worked a treat for me and after a few lengths I was tearing up the pool.

    It was one of those sessions when everything came together.

    Big thanks to everyone who shared their advise.


  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    I've been giving this a go and finding it very difficult! Breathing on the "wrong" side feels very odd and seems to throw off my stroke completely.

    More practice required I guess.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Breathing on the 'wrong' side will be very difficult at first. The frequent chokings and near-drownings put me off for a long time before I decided to stop trying to do it all at once, and went back to basics:

    Swim single sided, but alternate the side for each length. One length right, one left. Eventually your wrong side will feel natural, and you'll be able to breathe wherever and whenever you like!

    Keep at it, it doesn't take too long doing it like this, maybe only half a dozen sessions!

  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Keep up with it fellas, there will be a day that you're happy that you've learned it properly!
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Just wanted to say thanks for this advice! I've been giving this a go and just tried combining both sides, it all seems to be coming together.
Sign In or Register to comment.