The second pillar in OceanFit’s Four Pillars of Ocean Swimming is ‘Skills’.
[The four pillars are: Knowledge, Skills, Experience & Mindset.]
The Skills pillar is about developing the ocean swimming techniques that will make you a more efficient swimmer as you leave the relative comfort, consistency and familiarity of the pool, and enter the dynamic surf and open water environment.
Basic ocean swimming skills, like sighting, diving under waves, and bodysurfing aren’t in themselves difficult, but they are inherently inefficient, and how fast you develop these, and other, skills and how effective and efficient you are at executing them will largely depend on your general swimming ability.
Your general swimming ability is the base of the Skills pillar.
If you started swimming as a youngster and swam squads into your late teens, you’re likely to have developed a base level of swimming ability and fitness that you’ll never lose – swimming is very much natural or ‘nature’ for you.
Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but we can spot ex-squad swimmers in our clinics immediately, whether they’ve had five or 20-years off because the muscle memory developed over thousands of laps springs back into action and the control they have over their bodies is second nature.
Switching from the pool to the ocean for these swimmers is much easier, their development curve is steep and their limits greater from early on.
If your parents took you to learn to swim classes as a kid, but they pulled you out once you could swim 50m to safety, then there’s every chance that as an adult, you’ll find it harder to master ocean swimming techniques and to gain the fitness and strength required to tame the ocean – for you, your journey will be one of nurture.
That’s not to say you won’t be able to get there, many adults learn to swim later in life and establish themselves as good swimmers, it’s just that you’ll need to put more effort into training, your development curve will be much more gradual and you’ll need to lower your limits and expectations from the beginning.
Whether you’re a natural or a nurtured swimmer, it is with respect for the ocean that we should never feel like we’ve mastered the skills, and it’s why we continue to learn something new every time we get salty.
Fast or slow, strong or weak, confident or timid, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re having fun and enjoying the freedom, that’s what makes us ocean swimmers.