Although more difficult to master, side breathing is more efficient. I
used the classic forward breathing technique during my age group and
university career, However, I have since found a number of reasons to
recommend side breathing:
1. Side breathing does not require you to lift the centre of mass of your
head as high on each breath. This has two beneficial effects:
a. The swimmer does less work on each stroke; and
b. The swimmer is less likely to lower his behind when taking a breath. If
your craning your neck to take a breath, that force gets transmitted down
your back tending to push it down.
2. The swimmer is far less likely to ingest unwanted water when side
breathing. This is the reason I started using this technique. Swimming
butterfly in workout can be a really miserable experience in a wavy pool.
Even when racing in the most advanced pools there are always a series of
large following waves to greet you off the turn, the point in the race when
you've just gone five to 10 metres without a breath. Experienced forward
breathers just don't breath if they see a wave coming at them. However,
this means you've either got to wait two strokes for your next breath, or
break form and take two breaths in a row. And, there is still no guarantee
that there will not be another wave on the next breath. Since your head
breaks the wave and opens up an air pocket beside your mouth; You can
always take a clean breath with your head to the side.
On the cautionary side there are a couple of things to watch for:
1. You can no longer see forward when your head is above water. This is
not generally a problem for the majority of swimmers who wear goggles and
can judge the turn under water on a non-breathing stroke. I, however, am
from the old school: if you don't need goggles, don't wear them; its one
less thing to go wrong in a race. In my case, I take one forward breath
inside the flags to judge the distance to the wall.
2. breathing to the side can develop unwanted asymmetries in the stoke such
as dipping the shoulder on the non-breathing side or shortening the entry
of of the hand on the breathing side.
Once the technique is mastered, side breathing will allow the athlete to
swim butterfly faster than the classic forward method.
> I have a couple of girls who are wanting to use the side breathing
> method for the 100 fly. Is this a more effective method than the
> standard forward breathing method? I told them that this method seems
> to work for some, but not for all. Any suggestions?