Here’s a set of eight 25s that will help you experiment with your breathing pattern in freestyle.
Why Do It:
By learning to breathe on both sides, you will have a more balanced stroke and better alignment. If your right side is just as strong and fluent as your left side, you’ll swim in a more direct line down the pool or in open water.
By learning to breathe on both sides, you can keep an eye on ALL your competitors. And if you’re racing in open water, you’ll be able to site buoys and other landmarks, no matter which direction you’re swimming.
How to Do It:
Start with one length where you breathe ONLY to the right side.
Followed by one length breathing ONLY to the left.
On the third length, breathe every three strokes, with each hand-hit counting as one stroke. This is commonly called bilateral breathing.
On the fourth length, breathe every 4. Focus on starting your exhale as soon as your head goes in the water. Let out your air in a slow steady stream, and use the exhale to calm yourself into a more relaxed stroke that is balanced and symmetrical.
On the fifth length, breathe every 5. Keep your breathing relaxed and steady, and focus on a clean hand entry, full extension, and getting an early catch.
On the sixth length, breathe twice to the right then twice to the left. This is a great breathing pattern because it gives you plenty of air, but keeps you balanced on both sides.
On number seven, breathe on EVERY stroke. The trick is to have NO HESITATION in your rotation. As soon as you get a breath on one side rotate IMMEDIATELY into your breath on the other side. Try to maintain a steady rhythm, with great extension of the hands on every stroke.
On the final 25, take one breath at the start and then THAT’S IT. Focus on staying relaxed and long, with balanced rotation from one side to the other.
Try repeating the set one or more times and you could even add a pull buoy or fins to help you focus on your breathing.
When you get the hang of each of the breathing patterns, try to incorporate them into your longer swims and sets. You may not RACE with these patterns, but they will help you build a more balanced stroke during your day-to-day practice.