The surf sense ‘silver bullet’

Andrew developing his Surf Sense

“Wow Andrew was flying out there today, I wish I could swim like him!”

That’s a remark I got from one of my morning ocean fitness participants, Jacquelyn, about another after a particularly challenging session in big choppy swell at Bondi recently.

“You know why he’s swimming so well?” I started rhetorically, “it’s because he’s booked into two sessions a week with OceanFit, on top of that he’s always on the hunt for spare spots and I see him down here swimming on his days off.”

If I hadn’t heard the theme of that comment on this morning, I’d heard it a thousand times throughout the summer from participants looking for the ‘silver bullet’ – that is, they’re looking to become a gifted ocean swimmer overnight.

Andrew is literally flying into the ocean during one of his morning sessions.

There’s no doubt that Andrew was flying because he’s been putting in the hard work; he identified he needed to swim more efficiently and so got help to fix his stroke, he needed to be swimming stronger and faster so he has targeted this with structured pool sessions, but the major factor that helped him on this big surf day was his surf sense.

Surf sense is that instinct you develop from having an in-depth appreciation of how the ocean works and being one with the ocean when you’re in the water. It’s having a sixth sense, it’s being one step ahead and it’s respect.

You can’t develop your surf sense overnight, you can’t be taught it and you definitely won’t have it by the end of the summer.

Surf sense is developed through experience; by being out in the ocean in every condition, every day.

But don’t just swim. A single body surfing session will do more for you than 10 flat-water ocean swims.

Take up surfing, not only does it give you added reason to spend more time in the ocean, but to become good you need to be able to read the waves and conditions to catch the best waves.

So if you’re looking for the ‘silver bullet’, be realistic, get the knowledge and skills you need early from the experts and then get out there!


First published February 2015

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