7 things every side breathing flyer can relate to

Once in awhile, you see them swimming at meet.  They are a very rare breed.  The side-breathing flyers.  It may not be the “normal” way to breathe, but it seemed to work for Mel Stewart!

I came into college recruited for my breaststroke, but somehow I changed into a flyer. I wasn’t always a side breather either.  About mid-season my freshmen year, my coach told me to side breathe.  I’ve been a side breather ever since, and I now live with chronic neck pain.  But when I say it works for some people, it definitely worked for me with the drastic time drops I had!

If you are a side breather, you can defiantly relate.

1.Amazing neck flexibility.

Being a side breather flyer, you have developed an extremely flexible neck.  You basically can turn your neck around like an owl.

2. You see the competition.

Breathing to the side allows you to see who’s next to you.  It gives you an advantage.  Nothing is more enjoyable than watching you speed past the competition.

3. Chronic neck pain.

Due to the extraneous amounts of butterfly that you swim at practice and meets, you have developed what I like to call, chronic neck pain.  No matter what you are doing, you always feel like you have a crick in your neck.

4. One side of your neck is significantly stronger than the other. 

Typically, side breathers are only able to breathe to one side.  This makes it visible how much stronger one side is compared to the other.

5. You can no longer breathe like a”normal” flyer.  

Since you have started side breathing you can no longer pick your head straight up and breathe like a normal flyer. If you try, you instantly feel like you are drowning.  Once you go to side breathing, you never go back.

6.You constantly choke on the waves at practice. 

Side breathing has its advantages.  But swallowing everyones splash from the lane next to you is not one of them.  One of the worst things that side breathers experience is the constant swallowing of water that we choke down continuously.

7. When people ask you “why you side breathe?”

You get the question quite a bit.  They ask “why do you side breathe?”. The answer is always the same “because I do”.


Courtesy of the Summit League


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4 years ago

You end up becoming lopsided. I am still trying to correct my imbalances four years after being done with competitive swimming.

4 years ago

8. Rowdy has a lot more fun commentating your race: “SHE’S BREATHING TO HER RIGHT!”

About Olivia McLain

Olivia McLain

My name is Olivia McLain and I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri.  I am currently a junior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where I am also on the UNO Women's Swim Team. I specialize in the 100 butterfly, 100 freestyle, and now that its allowed …

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