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  #1  
Old 12-10-2015
efdoucette efdoucette is offline
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Dear Santa,

My bilateral breathing is really bad. All I want for Christmas is a guide on how to breath easily on my weak side. Any pointers would be most appreciated.

Merry Christmas and many happy laps,
Eric
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2015
tony0000 tony0000 is offline
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Learning to breathe on your weak side is much easier than learning to breath from scratch. What you have to do is (1) figure out what's the difference in your breathing and (2) then eliminate that difference by changing your weak side breathing. Voila!

Well, easier said than done, but in theory it's the way to go.

Good luck!

Tony

"Swim by the mile; improve by the inch."
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  #3  
Old 12-10-2015
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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I have found that the best way, for me anyway, is to start by just turning the head to the 'bad' side, the so-called nodding drill, keeping one goggle lens in the water. Then, after this has gone well, try snatching a breath, at first I found I mainly breathed out and blew bubbles rather than taking in air, but gradually it becomes easier. Then try to establish a pattern, At first I found that breathing every five or seven was easier than every three, as it gave more time to think about the next breath and concentrate on the exhalation, which seems to be a very important element.

By now it has become fairly easy but still requires conscious thought. Watching a skilled bilateral breather gives one the impression that it's as natural as breathing on land. Perhaps by next year.
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  #4  
Old 12-10-2015
Zenturtle Zenturtle is offline
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Only breathe on your bad side.
After a month (or earlier) your bad side will become your good side.
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  #5  
Old 12-11-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Somehow, although I'm not sure how, learning how to breath on both sides is like learning how to eat, write, or throw a ball with your left hand when you are right handed. I think that the earlier you start any of these processes, the easier it is to become "ambidextrous" or whatever the word that applies to breathing would be. I suspect (and I have nothing to support my crazy theories) that if you always do something on one side, then your brain changes over time to accomodate this asymmetry, and then it becomes very hard to break. So maybe these considerations will help you to put into context what it is that you are trying to do. The main lesson here is the sooner the better!
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  #6  
Old 12-11-2015
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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In my case it has taken several years to be comfortable breathing to the right. Perhaps of I had committed to breathing only to the 'wrong' side in the beginning as Zenturtle suggests I would now be completely at ease on either side.

It is definitely a good idea to start as soon as possible.

There was a somewhat heated discussion about this a few years ago, which ultimately led to a somewhat dogmatic member being banned, which when you think about it is a bit silly.

There may be physical reasons why some people find bilateral breathing harder than others, but I suspect that in most cases it is force of habit.

I am quite sure I can't throw a ball properly left-handed but when I did Judo I learned to do my favourite throws on both sides. Most people are one-sided when it comes to jumping, although they can all do a two-legged jump ( if they have two legs).
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  #7  
Old 12-11-2015
Danny Danny is offline
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Here is some more personal data, for whatever it is worth. My father had a war injury in his right shoulder which forced him to do a number of sports activities with his left hand. So, for example, he wrote with his right hand, but he had to throw or serve a tennis ball with his left hand. I was a young adult before both my father and I realized that I was using the same hand for every activity that my father used. As a result, I would call myself something like "mixed ambidextrous". When I started doing distance freestyle (as an older adult), I breathed on the right, but it didn't take long before a coach told me I should learn bilateral breathing to smooth out my stroke. I followed ZTs advice and started breathing exclusively on the left, and after some time, I realized that I now had trouble breathing on the right. I think it was at this point that I really started doing alternate breathing. I think at first it felt like I wasn't getting enough air, but over time it started to become very natural. I still have a slight preference for the right, but if I breath on the left side exclusively for a lap or two, my preference switches sides. When I notice a preference developing as I swim, I always pay attention to my technique to try to pinpoint what it is that is creating this asymmetry. There are a number of different possible causes. Asymmetric hip or shoulder rotation, dropping my elbow on my right side makes left-side breathing more difficult, and initiating my catch on the left side too early makes breathing on that side more difficult. I think that all of these problems can be summarized with one general observation. If I fully extend my shoulder and hip in the spear and catch, it becomes much easier to breath on that side, when I don't, I develop problems. My father, by the way, was never able to do freestyle. His right shoulder couldn't execute the recovery.
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  #8  
Old 12-11-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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I had a classmate in medical school who, just before he graduated was running down the stairs of his apartment building when he skidded on the landing and went through the glass window at the end of the building with his right arm.

He completely severed his right ulnar nerve as well as several tendons. These were all repaired surgically, but, as you all may well know, nerves don't regenerate that well, and the ulnar nerve is important for hand and finger fine motor control, as well as for sensation to the hand skin and muscles.

Well he was right handed, or, at least he was at the time of the injury. There was a lot of rehabilitation work, but he had to learn to write and do medical delicate physical examinations and procedures with his left hand. He eventually became good at it, and had a very successful medical career as a rural Family Physician (doing all things from surgery to internal examinations and delivering babies), so, there is a lot that can be done, when faced with a catastrophic loss of capacity on your "good" side. So sometimes you may have to inflict this condition on yourself to make yourself commit to your goal!

"Necessity is the mother of invention".
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Old 12-11-2015
sclim sclim is offline
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And you remember the bad old days when left handed children were beaten when they used their left hand for writing and other dominant hand tasks. It wasn't the most enlightened approach, but my point is that most became reasonably proficient in bringing their non-dominant side skills up to standard. They also became neurotic, or serial killers or other dysfunctionals, but that's another topic.

And on yet another tangent, English naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson got his right hand and distal forearm amputated following a bullet wound in battle. At the Naval Museum at Greenwich there is displayed a custom made combination fork with a retractable knife that he used when dining: but the whole mechanism had to be operated with his non-dominent left hand! On the bright side, he wouldn't have to make a fist with his right hand to practice early vertical forearm swimming drills.
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  #10  
Old 12-12-2015
efdoucette efdoucette is offline
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So to summarize the above and in the words of Nike "Just do it"

Thanks everyone, great stories, it helps.
Breathing on my strong side is so easy, now to understand the difference going to my weak side. Still much to work on but all fun.

When I look back I've come a long way in 5 years and mostly with small incremental improvements.
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