Bilateral Breathing Is Dead Easy In A Wetsuit

Here's two seemingly disconnected things:

You tried bilateral breathing but found it too hard and gave up?

And your pool is shut but you have the opportunity to swim in open water in a wetsuit?

If that's you, we have an opportunity for you:

Swimming in a wetsuit dramatically reduces the load placed on your breathing. This happens because your body is lifted higher in the water by the buoyancy of the suit. That reduces the effort required from your arm stroke (because your drag has been reduced) and reduces the effort required from your kick (because your body is already lifted higher)*. 

It follows then that the lower oxygen demand of wetsuit swimming makes bilateral breathing dramatically easier. So if you can overcome the tendency everyone has to hold their breath in open water (more on this below) then now is the perfect time to revisit bilateral breathing and start reaping those benefits!

Some tips:

- Start at an easy pace.

- Focus on a long smooth exhalation in the water between breaths. This is good breathe technique because it helps get rid of CO2 from your system and will help overcome any open water anxiety.

- Focus on keeping your big toes brushing together. If you normally breathe to one side only it's likely that you have a scissor kick opening up behind you like a parachute. Focusing on the tap-tap-tap of your big toes will keep your legs together and dramatically reduce drag.


Also Try Five (Or Even Seven)

If you already swimming bilaterally in the pool then take advantage of the lower aerobic load in a wetsuit by experimenting with breathing every five or even seven strokes. Everyone's stroke technique and symmetry deteriorates when they are breathing so doing so less frequently means swimming faster and straighter.

It's not just the effect of the wetsuit's buoyancy, most swimmers instinctively swim with a higher stroke rate (cadence) in open water and this will mean the time between breaths is reduced.


Learn A New Skill During The Lockdown

If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while then you'll be used to us waxing lyrical about the benefits of bilateral breathing to your stroke technique. Nothing else gives the same gains when it comes to improving your symmetry in the water - reducing drag and helping you work on your propulsive technique.

So learn a new skill today. You never know, the habit might even stick when your pool eventually reopens. :)


Swim Smooth!

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2 comments:

Unknown said...

I am a bilateral breather, by honing this in a pool setting. However, while swimming in the sea, I find it more difficult to breathe to one side only, to cope with wave action.

Adam Young said...

Hi there - I'm a bit confused by what you are saying there. When you said you "find it more difficult to breathe to one side" in the sea, did you actually mean you find it more difficult to breathe bilaterally?

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