Originally Posted by swimpaired
Sorry for the confusion,
I am right handed and had been breathing only to my right side. I was doing this every other stroke. I changed to breathing on both sides alternating the side every third stroke.
This is one of my favorite pet topics!
Your insight is perfect and I love the way you phrased it... that relaxation is more concerned with getting rid of air underwater rather than taking it in while above. This alone may have improved your relaxation and efficinecy in the water.
The choice of breathign every 2, 3 or 4 (or more) strokes is really just a matter of matching your exertion level with your breathing (or vice versa).
if you could only breath on the right side, you'd have limted options of breathing every 2, 4 or 6 strokes or more. in no other athletic event do we meter out breathing rather than breathing just when we need to (musicians could be an exception).
Breathing 3 strokes isn't necessarily the magic answer either, but having the ability to
a) Breath on your 'weak side' and
b) Breath every 3 breaths
More than doubles yoru breathing options. Now you can breath every 2 to the "weak" side (that alone has doubled your options for example being able to breath away from wind/sun/waves, etc). But now you can also breath every 3, 5 (or even 7 breaths) to match your exertion.
It's good to practice breathing every 4 to each side (4 slows you down enough that you can focus on form), as well as every 3 to learn the pattern and timing of exhalation, AND every 2 breaths if your exertion demands it.