Is bilateral breathing necessary?Bilateral breathing refers to the act of breathing to both sides in an alternating pattern during the freestyle stroke. This technique would result in a breathing pattern of every 3, 5 or even 7 strokes. To contrast, a breathing pattern of every 2,4, or 6 would result in the swimmer breathing to the same side over and over.There are a wide variety of opinions in the swimming and triathlon world regarding the “best” way to breathe in freestyle but today I'm going to share some of the potential benefits of utilizing this technique. Pros: “Bilateral breathing helps to improve your symmetry and balance in the water, reducing your drag, having you swim straighter and reducing the chances of shoulder injury.Bilateral breathing lets you keep your options open when swimming in open water, specifically breathing away from side swell and chop, and drafting close to other swimmers to the side.Only breathing to one side very commonly leads to developing major stroke flaws such as “crossovers, scissor kicks, timing problems, poor catch technique and even possible shoulder injury” (SwimSmooth – “The Great Bilateral Breathing Controversy”). Most Common Mistake in BreathingHolding your breath - It is vital that you are constantly exhaling while underwater, with a final burst of air before your breathDisclaimer: Bilateral breathing is a great training exercise and should be practiced consistently. However, the technique is not always beneficial in an actual race, especially a long distance one.If you are swimming endurance races, you want to keep “refueling” your body as much as possible so breathing every 2 is not problematic. For swimmers with a very slow arm rate breathing every 3 can get difficult so breathing to one side for one lap and the other side for the next lap is another alternative.If you are having problems with the timing of your breathing and getting enough air, you may find that more body roll is helpful because it allows more of your mouth to clear the water without lifting the head. Using good body roll, you will also create more time to take a breath. If you would like to learn more about how to coordinate and incorporate body roll into your Freestyle, please register for the upcoming “Getting Control with Body Roll” AquaEdge Workshop with Clement Dulac on December 7, at 10 am. For more information contact Lead Swim Coach Clement Dulac at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713.316.2705.