Is it OK to switch from alternate side breathing to same side breathing?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 27, 2013 1:57 PM GMT
    When I'm fresh, I can do the 3/4 tempo of alternate side breathing--breathing on the left and then on the right.

    When I'm getting tired, I go to 4/4 tempo of same side breathing.

    When I'm really tired, I go to 2/2 tempo of same side breathing.

    Yesterday, I saw a triathlete practicing up and down the pool. He was doing 3/4, then he switched to 2/2. At first I thought he was lifting his head to the right swimming up the pool then lifting his head to the left swimming down the pool, but I think he was just lifting to the right both ways.

    What are you thoughts?

    Later, I'll check what's on youtube and share what I find.
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    Mar 27, 2013 10:30 PM GMT
    I swam competitively from 11-19 year round, ending in college (didn't swim the whole time there). Many distance swimmers will breath on every other stroke same side. It actually forces you to reach farther. If I'm working out, I sometimes do this. It's whatever keeps you comfortable, balanced, and then you have to consider whether you're doing distance or sprints. Sprints obviously breathing every stroke will result in slower times...Distance it depends on how comfortable you are at it and want to keep as low of CO2 levels as possible in your blood to prolong aerobic performance.
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    Mar 28, 2013 2:58 AM GMT
    Bluey,

    Thank you. So often I hear people talk about the necessity of being able to breathe on both sides.

    Hey, any comments about one of the points being made in this video? A swimmer can have less bubbles when the arm moves through the water? Yes, I see the difference but is that because the palm is always facing to the feet?

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    Mar 28, 2013 3:09 AM GMT
    This is fascinating.

    Come on, tell me you agree or don't agree with what he's saying.

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    Mar 28, 2013 3:14 AM GMT
    ahhhh, here's an Olympian

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    Mar 28, 2013 3:26 AM GMT
    Freestyle Breathing



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    Mar 28, 2013 3:57 AM GMT
    I don't believe there's one right answer regarding bilateral breathing in swimming. Lots of qualifiers need to be considered.

    For a novice to intermediate swimmer you'd improve in technique by learning bilateral because you're more likely to engrain a symmetrical bodyline through both sides of your stroke. As a coach I've seen many adult swimmers with uneven strokes due in part to unilateral breathing.

    As an open-water triathlete, you want to know how to breath in every wave condition, from unilateral through choppy directional waves, to bilateral in calm water. Being able to adapt to all the conditions will allow you to keep a steady rhythm.

    Regarding counts, it varies from sprint to distance and lung capacity. Keeping the CO2 down is important, but so is body friction caused by head movement.

    So an overall answer would be to learn bilateral and therefore be able to adapt to any situation while strengthening your core centreline. And mix up your counts in different workouts so that you find what works for you.
  • bro4bro

    Posts: 1032

    Mar 28, 2013 4:20 AM GMT
    Unilateral breathing is fine for a relatively short distance race, but if you're training hard and often for a long distance it can give you a repetitive motion injury. I know this from personal experience. I suffered a herniated lumbar disk, in part due to this training error. That was just over three and a half years ago, and I still haven't fully recovered. Believe me, if you knew what a herniated disk feels like, you'd breathe on both sides.

    I'm back to swimming laps in the pool now but not going at it as hard or as often as before. I breathe on my right going down the lane and on the left coming back up. It works out fine. My back never knots up like it did when I was breathing on only one side (yeah I ignored all the warning signs).

    By the way, here's a little known fact - about 70% of competitive swimmers suffer disk degeneration, according to a recent study performed in Japan and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Recreational swimmers (people who swim laps regularly but don't go at it as hard as competitors) experience degeneration at about the same rate as the general population (30%). So, the old myth about swimming being low impact is just that - a myth. Anything can be high impact if you go at it hard enough.
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    Mar 28, 2013 2:08 PM GMT
    bro4bro saidUnilateral breathing is fine for a relatively short distance race, but if you're training hard and often for a long distance it can give you a repetitive motion injury. I know this from personal experience. I suffered a herniated lumbar disk, in part due to this training error. That was just over three and a half years ago, and I still haven't fully recovered. Believe me, if you knew what a herniated disk feels like, you'd breathe on both sides.

    I'm back to swimming laps in the pool now but not going at it as hard or as often as before. I breathe on my right going down the lane and on the left coming back up. It works out fine. My back never knots up like it did when I was breathing on only one side (yeah I ignored all the warning signs).

    By the way, here's a little known fact - about 70% of competitive swimmers suffer disk degeneration, according to a recent study performed in Japan and published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine. Recreational swimmers (people who swim laps regularly but don't go at it as hard as competitors) experience degeneration at about the same rate as the general population (30%). So, the old myth about swimming being low impact is just that - a myth. Anything can be high impact if you go at it hard enough.


    Bro4Bro,

    Thank you.

    I wonder if pro tennis players come up with the same problem. I'm thinking of all of the serves they do to start a game.

    Wishing you the best,
    StephenOABC