Originally Posted by descending
I was forced to learn it from my first coach and I think it's a nice tool to have b/c even in the pool yo unever know when it might come in handy to take a peek at competition. That said I left bilateral behind by the time I was 11-12 years old b/c unless the stroke rate is really high the swimmer doesn't get enough oxygen if they are seeking their fastest result.
I agree that it's a nice skill to have, and probably a necessary skill for open water, but I also rarely use a bilateral pattern anymore, especially in the pool. On longer distance races, (200Y plus), I'm breathing every stroke on the right. I sometimes even breath on consecutive pulls, right/left, if that last pull before a flip turn is going to be with the left hand. Conversely, I breath every 4 strokes on the left on a 100 sprint. On a 50, it's only one (short course) or two (long course), to the left. I have a bit of a "lope" when breathing to the right. Breathing to the left on sprints helps me keep my stroke rate up.