|Side breathing as performed by Christine Magnuson|
Side breathing during butterfly is nothing new. However, I remember watching Mel Stewart winning the 200 Fly in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It was something new to me then, but it just now that I am starting to see why it might be a good thing...at least for some swimmers.
Since Mel's success there have been many to imitate his side breathing technique. For some swimmers, I believe, it may be the best option for their fly stroke.
Reason #1: There is an imbalance in the recovery between the right and left side. Some swimmers "lean" to the right or left during the recovery of their arms. This poor balance could be corrected by breathing to the correct side. For instance, if a swimmer's right arm recovers a bit higher than their left, breathing toward the left side might tend to draw that right arm down a bit.
Reason #2: The upper body is recovering too high out of the water. If a swimmer recovers too high out of the water, asking them to breath to the side may help lower their head position. By asking them to breath to the side and keep their lower cheek on the surface of the water, they may be able to keep their head lower on the breath.
Whether it is the 1st or 2nd reason, the result is the same, a tighter undulation during the stroke. Such a body motion would encourage a swimmer to engage their core throughout the stroke, instead of just throwing their upper body up and down during the stroke.
Tomorrow I have another idead for encouraging a more core strength during the undulation in butterfly.