Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Case Against Breathing Every Two Strokes

Sam with Paul (left) and Adam on
the Sydney 3 Day Coach Ed Course
First up, you'll be very pleased to know that the Swim Smooth Podcast is back!

We released our brand new interview with Pro Triathlete Sam Bradley (formerly Warriner) yesterday to your favourite blogging platform:


Sam gives us her insight into her coaching philosophy and what made the biggest difference to her as an athlete at the highest level of the sport, culminating in World Cup wins and a Commonwealth Games silver medal.

A great listen!

The Case Against Breathing Every Two To One Side Only

Do you always breathe to the same side every 2 strokes? If you do then you have multiple challenges developing your swimming.

Over time the act of rotating to breathe to one side tends to develop more and more rotation of your shoulders and hips to that side. Without any non-breathing strokes to help counter-balance this, you tend to over-rotate to your breathing side, way beyond the recommended 45-60 degrees of rotation:

This over-rotation causes a loss of balance in the stroke and your legs to scissor kick apart to regain that balance, in turn creating huge drag at the back of the stroke:

Conversely on the non-breathing side your rotation never develops properly and you become very flat:

That makes the recovering arm swing around the side and have a strong tendency to cross-over the centre line on hand entry, causing you to snake down the pool:

But the bad news doesn't end there! Whilst you are breathing your focus tends to be heavily on making sure you get that breath in so by breathing every two you never provide any focus on the catch from the lead arm at that point in the stroke. As we can see here that means the catch never properly develops, in this case collapsing downwards without any real purchase on the water:

If you were breathing every three strokes then two out of three strokes on that arm would be on non-breathing strokes so you would have a good opportunity to develop your catch technique so that when you breathe to that side it holds nicely.

All That Because You Only Ever Breathe To One Side!

This sequence of cause-and-effect stroke flaws is incredibly common with unilateral breathers.

So common in fact that we refer to the stroke pattern as the "Classic Unilateral Breather Stroke". Next time you're at the pool take a few minutes to sit in the stands and watch some of the swimmers - you'll see this pattern of flaws everywhere.

How do you fix this? Ideally by learning to breathe every 3 strokes to balance out your symmetry and give yourself a decent chance of improving these technical aspects of your stroke.

Many swimmers have tried bilateral breathing and failed to conquer it, simply finding it too hard or difficult to sustain. If that's you then don't miss next week's post - we're going to look at the key reasons why swimmers find bilateral breathing hard and how to overcome them.

There's definitely some initial challenges with learning to breathe every three but as you can see above, the benefits of doing so are huge. More on that next week!

Swim Smooth!

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