...meant that only being able to roll on one side was not enough for me.
There's a little bit of additional fear factor when you only have a roll on one side. Being able to roll on either side means I focus on simply rolling up, regardless of orientation to the water's movement. Not "Uh oh, that's not my rolling side!"
As someone else pointed out, the way you get dumped over is usually conducive to quickly rolling up without having to move the paddle around to orient it...IF that's a side you can roll from. Since the chances of capsizing on left or right are each 50%, being "ambirolltrous" means much less chance of running out of air while waiting to switch underwater to "the rolling side".
Regardless of which way the capsize goes, if a first attempt in moving water does fail, I can either switch sides underwater and try again, or wait till the water feels different and try again on the same side. I've done both in real capsize situations. Usually the first attempt works, but there's no question that for me, knowing I can try the other side keeps me working on the task at hand instead of worrying. And that, too, helps conserve air.
There's another good reason to learn to roll on both sides: It trains the brain/body to not favor one side as much. This doesn't just apply to rolling; it applies to all other techniques as well as many movements outside of kayaking. This kind of training contributes to improvement in a natural, unforced way.
1 Canoe/Kayak Trailer
Touring Kayak Paddles
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