I'm interested to see what efdoucette discovered in assessing his flexibility.
However, in response to your suggestions:
Originally Posted by Penguin
You might try, bite my tongue, using a kick board. Turning your head first to one side, then the other. Feel the differences. Try to work through them. Do this for a few laps every time you go swimming. It took me a couple of weeks of this to have it not feel totally awkward, but it did help a lot.
I would not recommend using a kick board for this reason.
When you spear your lead arm into the water, you aim for a 'target' below the surface of the water which is generally below the body line. I might add that this target will vary in depth depending on the each individual's shoulder flexibility but nevertheless it will be below the surface of the water. This is the skate position.
When you hold onto a kick board, your lead hand or hands if you are holding it with both hands, is/are above or at the surface of the water. Needless to say this will generally put the head, hip and legs in less than ideal, if not in incorrect positions.
Leaving the hips and legs aside, the head will be higher than the natural position when swimming whole stroke.
So it's not really an effective way to fix your breathing. And, you may well end up imprinting less than ideal techniques elsewhere in your stroke.
Originally Posted by Penguin
Another thing is to go back and spend time breathing on your traditional side, thinking about and analyzing all the movements and feelings you find there. Then try to transfer them to the new side.
Look for differences in the spearing angle of the lead arm and differences in the catch timing.
Whilst this seems a logical approach it really depends on whether both sides of your body are equal in flexibility. This is something that needs to be determined and can't simply be assumed. Generally, the dominant side will be more flexible.
If both sides are completely equal in flexibility, then yes, you may try note the feeling on the compliant side and attempt to process the information and mirror it on the weak side. But this is difficult.
If flexibility is different on each side, then translating the feeling from one side to the other is pointless because the range of movement is different on each side. You may well attempt to do something which is possible on one side of the body but next to impossible on the other. To give you an example, think about someone who is right handed attempting to write with his left hand.
So where does this leave us?
The primary cause for difficulty in breathing is the lack of balance and stability.
When breathing, the body (the "vessel") is placed in a challenging position and this is where it is critical have control over the balance and stability the vessel. The more control you have, the more relaxed you will feel and this will give you more time to breathe.
My suggestion is to spend time on superman glide to work on balance. Skate to work on stability and re-enforce balance when in the rotated streamline position. Followed by skate, roll on to back to breathe, skate (SRS).
In the last drill SRS, it is important to execute the roll from skate to on your back in control and not just merely rolling onto your back and then back to skate. That is, you should able to be perform the roll at whatever speed you desire, fast or slow. At some point when there is sufficient control over the rolling action including the balance and stability of the body, you should practice stopping halfway through the roll such that the body is vertical.
I should add that kicking should kept to an absolute minimum.
When this can be comfortably achieved, not only will bilateral breathing will come naturally with little effort, but your whole stroke will improve significantly.