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bi lateral oxygendebt.

after 20 lengths, i have to go unilateral. w.t.f.?

i can run 20 miles in under 3 hours and centuary rides are no problem. why o why is the front crawl such a drain? i hardly use the legs at all. if i do im wasted quicker.

opinions ?


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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    I'm the same, swim is crap but perservere andforce yourself to stay bilateral you'll get there. I turned my attempts into a 36 minute swim at Antwerp half IM last year. My swim training consisted of a weekly 45 minuter as fast as possible. I hated swimming and just got on with it. When the "good" weather came in I put on the wetsuit and went to a local lake and swam around it to get used to the open water sensation (alone and having told nobody - don't tell the health & safety brigade)
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    agent_tiagent_ti Posts: 306
    Best bet would to join a coached swimming session to make your stroke as efficient as possible, its likely that its poor technique letting you down. Having said that though, I much prefer breathing unilateral, especially in a race
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    Do you mean breathing every two strokes........if you think about this in another way......

    If you breath every two it slows you down a lot. If you breath every three or four you will be more efficient and will not have to push so hard - therefore keeping you better for longer.

    As for swimming in general, its definitely a really difficult thing to master, and it seems that if you just have a week off (after being quite happy with things) you lose everything again :(

    I'm currently reading and practising Total Immersion techniques - there seems to be enough people on here who rate it so i thought i'd give it a blast - but so far it feels like i'm going backwards.

    P.S. Halfanironman, what is your time over the 20 lengths?
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    I'm a sub 18minute swimmer for 1500m and a swim coach and I unilateral breath all the time. I've been told off for a number of years by coaches for doing it because of the problems it can cause later in life. What sort of sessions do you do at the minute? Are they just long sets or do you break it up into 50s, 100s, 200s etc?
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    WilkoWilko Posts: 23
    I have been talking to a couple of guys at the local tri club who were asking for a bit of advice, what I told them and has worked for them:

    - Slow down the stroke, concentrate on keeping it long.

    - Keep a steady 4 beat kick (ie, kick four times in each stroke phase being two strokes) - I don't necessarily mean kick harder, mind you.

    - Try to breathe every 3/4 strokes, whichever feels a natural rhythm. Breathe out through the whole 3/4 strokes.

    - Try and keep this going even when you are tired, after swimming since the age of 7 - I still have to tell myself when blowing out of my arse on a long set to keep my form. Just last night my form went out and I dropped 7/8 seconds on about no 8 of 12x200, before sorting out the stroke and feeling a lot less tired and picked the time back up.

    Stickman, my coach tells me off too!
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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    My name is Britspin & I am Bilateral.
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    nivaghnivagh Posts: 595

    I used to breath unilaterally but I am now bi.

    Three key benefits in my eyes:

    1. Less loss of momentum breathing every three strokes compared to every two. (Though I start a race on four strokes)

    2. Less dizziness on swim exit

    3. Choice of sides in poor conditions - when it's choppy and you come up for air but get water instead, or when there's a prevailing wind.
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    graham33graham33 Posts: 265
    I stand and clap for Britspin- a hard thing to admit! [:D]
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    deeessdeeess Posts: 150
    true - admitting you have a problem is the first step in solving it
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    BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Your help....(pause)..and support (sob..pause).....means so much to me...(sob, heaving shoulders)..mere words cannot express....(bursts into tears & is lead way).
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    deeessdeeess Posts: 150
    well hey - i like to think this is a support network. now...the first rule of tri club is that you don't speak about tri club!

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    stickmanonabike wrote:

    I'm a sub 18minute swimmer for 1500m and a swim coach and I unilateral breath all the time. I've been told off for a number of years by coaches for doing it because of the problems it can cause later in life. What sort of sessions do you do at the minute? Are they just long sets or do you break it up into 50s, 100s, 200s etc?

    what problems? is the oxygen debt bad for you over prolonged periods?


    unilateraly i can do 150 odd lengths of a 25m pool without stopping, the thing is, in o.w.s. conditions, i end up swimming off course, i did an extra 1/4 of a mile at the nice iron man. i have bad eyesight, and even though the water was flat enough, there was a slight swell, that fucked up my view of one of the bouys.

    i ended up uni laterally swimming this big arc, which put me way off to the left of a bouy, i would have kept going only due to the fact of a woman in a canoe alerted me .

    i need to go straight, and bi lat is the only way i can see.

    thanks for the answers lads.

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    bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    The problem meant is shoulder and back injury by using the same side to breathe constantly.[:-]

    The advice given by our coach is: on training swim bilateral as much as possible to avoid overuse injury and to be able to use both sides; in order of looking on sides to search position,avoiding choppy waves and other competitors splashing watir in every breath you try to take.[&:]

    On races: best results by some top swimmers in tri are reached by breathing every 2 strokes: unilateral. This also makes you oxygen-debt free to start the bike leg which seems like a good thing to me.


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    BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    I'm with benny - on the breathing issue anyway. I've swum bi-lateral for the last couple of years now after being uni-lateral for years and casuing a big muscle imbalance, rotator cuff injury and impingement. Sometimes I go uni, but I'm careful to mix up which side I breathe on.

    In a race I breathe whenever the hell I feel like it, or whenever I get a chance. Some coaches will rag you for being a uni breather.... go look on youtube for Ian Thorpe and see what you think after watching him swim unilateral. The fastest swimmer in our informal club (5:15/400m) is a uni breather.
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    GGBGGB Posts: 482
    Am new to this but the advice I have been given is ... Bi-lateral helps very much in open water due to the tide - if generally only breathe to the right or left you are going to be getting mouthfulls of water if the tide is against you - so bilateral breathing helps as you can choose which side you breathe on. I have also heard of the problems with muscle imbalance. Ultimately though its up to you which way you do it in a race or in practise just ensure that you can do it both sides ;)

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    JulesJules Posts: 987
    I've learnt bilateral breathing recently, but I find I'm not good enough at it yet for it to be second nature, I occasionally have to think about it.

    This gives me a problem doing drills, as struggle to concentrate on (a) the drill and (b) breathing both sides. So I'm doing my drills breathing single sided and regular stroke lengths bilateral, for now.
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    bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    got the following in my mailbox from 'triswimcoach':

    Bilateral Breathing?[color=#000000] [/color]

    [image]http://app.topica.com/images/pixel.gif[/image]Dear benny,

    This topic is always swirling around the triathlon and distance swimming world: should you be bilateral breathing in swimming?

    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.

    Enjoy today's workout!


    I suppose this resumes what we wrote before, only in a more orderly and practical way.


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    Is bilateral the same as bi-curious ?

    Just wondered
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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    halfanironman wrote:

    after 20 lengths, i have to go unilateral. w.t.f.?

    i can run 20 miles in under 3 hours and centuary rides are no problem. why o why is the front crawl such a drain? i hardly use the legs at all. if i do im wasted quicker.

    opinions ?

    The truth: Swimming is not natural, so it is hard. Technique is all.

    Think of the training that a track sprinter does. Five minutes running, then the whole day in the gym building muscle.

    Compare that to a swim sprinter - hours and hours splashing up and down in pool. Then 5 mins in the gym.

    Technique really is all. You also can't progress on your own as it is impossible to really see in detail what you are doing wrong.

    You have to have coaching. And lots and lots of practice.
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    you do soo well at the other 2 you really need a coach to perfect your tecnique, if you've got that kind of stamina 20 miles so quick and fast century miles, the relief you'll get when it all kicks into place will be immense.

    Now you know what you need to do, tell us mere mortals how you do 20 miles so damn quick !!!
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    By the way im bi tooooooo lol
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    for the last year, i just watch my running millage and alternate the runs between the threadmill and the road.

    this is important imo. gives the knees a chance.i use a life fitness threadmill, and i never really go above 10 kph, each 5 minutes i up the gradient by .5% keeps me in the fat burn zones while still making it hard.

    with the road runs, i usually do a 10 miler once a week, no water, no gells{althogh i usually have had a bowl of oats and a big drink of water b4}. low speed. take it easy . low zone. no problems.

    then about once a month, i just double up my route, i carry a bottle of powerade, 2 gells and a kellogs nutri grain bar.

    i am so used to doing the 10 miler on nothing, that the powerade and gells make the 20 miler a doddle. easy peasy. if i push for the 3h, i am burning sugar by mile 17 all right.

    but if i back it off to 312, 315 its easy. no boink. it has taken me 2 years of weekly running and 1 im to get to this level.

    i never sprint. lsd.

    had a good swim tonight though lads. im presisting, the same way i have with the run. its coming. just........
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    i just want to give this a bump , so i can report that somethings definitly happening with my swim economy, can go much smoother now, focusing on the glide and while not the fastest guy in the pool, i am maintaining bi lateral for longer.


    does anyone maintain bi lateral breathing for an im race? this is my goal, just wondering if its realistic, or worth while.

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    treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    I did,but I was taught to swim bi-laterally so it was second nature
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    it seems to be unusual for most. to hell with most. i am going for it. what was your best im swim time?
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    Got to agree with bi-lateral being second nature when you're taught that way. Haven't swum properly in years and even though i'm breathing out my arse I still keep to 3 strokes to the breath. Means I don't get far mind you but that'll improve I hope. First sprint Tri in May and if I don't get round the swim in less than 15mins (aiming for 14min) i'll be gutted. [:@]
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    I am a swimmer, I was a competitive swimmer from the ages of 10 to 16 - swimming at national comps and for my county and at 18/19 completed a relay channel crossing. I am now 25 and getting back into competitive swimming again as well as my first triathlon.

    I am also a lateral breather!

    I have been told time and time again to breath bilateral - i can do it, but i just found lateral breathing to my left easier and more comfotable. I breath every 4th stroke. 3 strokes bilateral is too few and 5 is too much.

    I was never warned about possible injuries, just that the only reason for bi-lateral breathing was to see where your competitors were in the lanes either side of you.

    I have recently noticed my left (breathing side) shoulder clicking and aching, I do not know if this is due to a repetative strain injury from years and years of unilateral breathing, but I can imagine it is. I am trying to coach myself now to breath more to my right, I must say old habbits die hard, and i am struggling to do it, but I know I have to or I could be in more pain when I do get older.
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    RockieRockie Posts: 40
    "i need to go straight, and bi is the only way."

    Only in tri...

    I was never taught to swim bi-laterally, it just turned out that 2 strokes was too little and 4 was too much. I decided to do it after swimming for over a year, no problems getting accustomed to it. I can breathe pretty much any frequency up to 6 stokes.

    On the down side, I'm dead slow.
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    julesojuleso Posts: 279
    I have a query on this one. I'm still a newbie swimmer and am breathing bilaterally. For my first open water swim, if I do have to breathe to one side because of sun or splash or whatever, would breathing on 2 : 4 : 2 : 4 be a good ratio use? I'm planning to practise this in the pool before the summer but I'd like to make sure I'll be doing the right thing.

    Any replies gratefully received.....
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