3 Ironman greats give 6 tips to becoming a legend in the surf

The last few weeks has seen some of the best surf Ironman racing I’ve witnessed in a long time.

The fitness, athleticism and surf skills have been exceptional by all the athletes across the Nutri-Grain Series and the Shannon Eckstein Ironman Classic, the latter I was fortunate to watch live (the surf was huge!).

However, there are two athletes that have been consistently waves ahead of the pack this season.

In the professional Nutri-Grain series, Ali Day completed a phenomenal, never seen before, clean sweep of all six Ironman races and Ironwoman Lana Rogers won four, with two second placings.

On these achievements, Ironman great Darren Mercer said, “it’s next level, I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

So, what is it that makes these two athletes so good in the surf and how can we learn from them?

To answer this, we can start by listening back to my ONSHORE podcast interview with 2 x Australian Ironman Champion, Robert ‘Chappo’ Chapman.

Referring to why multiple championship-winning surf athletes are so good, Chappo opined;

“The foundation to (their success) is swimming training.

“They are super consistent and committed with their squad training, and they’re swim fit. When they get in the ocean it becomes a lot more comfortable for them.

“They also just seem to have an affinity with the ocean.

“They all do, you don’t win surf (life saving) titles in any water discipline without a deep knowledge and a feel for the ocean.

“They just appear to have an instinct, a knowing, a peripheral vision of what’s going on around them.

“It’s probably a combination of being innate and a learnt ability.

“The surf skills at the elite level are unbelievable, out of this world.”

So how do we achieve this as a simple ocean swimmer?

“You’ve got to be in the surf,” Chappo says,

“You’ve got to spend time swimming in the surf. Go out, free bodysurf, practice, practice, practice.

“You don’t need to be the fastest swimmer in the pool to be exceptionally good in the surf.

“You can use tactics in the surf that will keep you up with the lead swimmer.”

Another multiple-championship winning Ironman legend, Trevor Hendy, said of Ali after the Series;

“Ali’s been the most willing to learn, he’s already a genius and a freak athletically.

“He’s taken it from being one of the fittest men in the world to being one of the greatest athletes in the world.”

And finally, from Ali himself, remarking on the perfect comeback after sustaining two broken wrists in 2019 that nearly ended his career;

“My advice would be to surround yourself with good people and never stop believing.”

If you dream of being a legend in the surf, here are the six surf Ironman tips to get you there.

6 Ironman surf swimming tips

  1. Get swim fit
  2. Spend time in the surf
  3. Use tactics
  4. Be willing to learn
  5. Surround yourself with good people
  6. Never stop believing
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