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Breathing to the side in Butterfly

Growing up as a young swimmer in the early 1990’s I recall watching Mel Stewart break the 200m Butterfly world record in Perth, ending a 9-year winning streak for Michael ‘The Albatross’ Gross in the event. Stewart went onto win gold in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

What was interesting about Stewart is that he breathed to the side rather than with his head forward. I have come a across a number of swimmers that do this and get swimmers to try this out especially if they are coming up to high out of the water when they breathe.

By breathing to the side, the swimmer can stay lower and flatter in the water, reducing unnecessary up-down movement that creates frontal resistance in the stroke. Interestingly, Stewart also has a slight arm bend in the recovery, as opposed to most swimmers who recover with a straight arm, which what is more desirable in order to keep the stroke long.

Stewart’s race here also shows the benefit of having a strong back-half to a race, whereas Gross falls away having gone, perhaps, too fast in the first 100m. This is why why work on negative splits in training to prevent fading in the back-half of races.

photo credit: Angela Radulescu CU Swimming and Diving 15 via photopin (license)

Richard Bruford View All

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology.

With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools.

Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin.

In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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