One of the (fun) challenges we face as ocean swimmers is swimming in the surf.
In fact, we wear our ability to take on mother nature as a badge of honour here in Australia.
Fundamentally, it’s also what differentiates open water swimmers, from ocean swimmers.
Of the many intricate surf swimming techniques you can master on your way to becoming a pro surf swimmer, there is one principal skill you should focus on to become more efficient in the surf.
That skill is maintaining a streamlined body position.
In order to swim efficiently in the surf, your body position in the water should be as it would be in the pool and open water. That is, it needs to be streamlined and sitting high in the water, in order to reduce drag and minimise fatigue.
To maintain this position whilst dealing with the oncoming surf means you need to become proficient at sighting. Sighting in itself is inefficient, no matter how good you are at it. But, a great sighting technique will mean you can minimise the number of times you need to lift your head and it’ll ensure your lower body stays high in the water whilst taking a look forward.
Breathing every second stroke through the surf will also ensure you have plenty of oxygen in your lungs at all times, reducing the need to swim with your head up for periods or take a short break after diving under waves.
As a wave approaches, you’ll be prepared because of your sighting. And, if you get your timing right, you’ll be able to propel yourself into a dive well before the wave reaches you, in order to avoid the power and turbulence of the wave near the surface.
Throughout your transition from swimming to diving, you need to maintain your streamlined body position, and you need to continue to maintain a streamlined position throughout the dive until you return to the surface to continue swimming.
I often refer to streamlined diving under waves as doing a ‘superman‘, it’s a great way to remember what you’re supposed to be focusing on.
Next time you hit the surf, forget everything else for a moment and just focus on being streamlined.
I guarantee you’ll find surf swimming much easier, and with all the energy you save, you’ll be able to enjoy your swimming more!