Originally Posted by Lawrence
All very well making the stroke more symmetrical but beside the point if in fact you don't or can't swim that way over more than a short distance, in which case surely it makes more sense to refine the stroke you actually use.
I didn't "get it" either, primarily because I couldn't do it - which is precisely the reason I knew I had to do it. When you think of it it's all really a mental thing. Injuries aside, your bodies mostly symetrical and other than level of comfort, you should be able to teach yourself bilateral breathing.
The first few days I tried it I was sinking, out of rythym, taking on water, etc. - all very ugly. But, you have to keep working at it and it gets better every day. It takes a while and you'll always revert to the comfort of one-soided breathing, but eventually you'll be as comfortable breathing on either side.
Does it help me swimming? I think so. It's hard to have a symetrical motion in the water when you do something different on one side than the other. I always felt one-sided (right) breathing under emphasized the proper roll needed to get my left shoulder out of the water on it's recovery stroke. Being able to breathe on either side, I am more able to keep consistent form throughout any breath interval - I'm not captive to a particular one(s).