Swimming: The Lost Art Possibly the world’s greatest gym is the ocean and one of the best workouts is surfing.
Through out time those who enter the sea to surf, swim, paddle, dive or other ocean activity come back invigorated, strengthened, renewed and filled with zeal. To raise performance and improve stamina many surfers condition themselves for surfing by swimming. While not everyone desires to surf everyone can benefit from being in condition to surf. Swimming is one of the best exercises known to man and an indispensable skill for every surfer.
In the past surfers knew if they wiped out and lost their board they were in for a swim back to the beach. Today many surfers rely on protective leaches that prevent the board from washing away after a wipe out. Relying on a leash instead of good swimming skills is a mistake and could hazardous. What happens if the leash snaps or breaks? La Jolla cove is known for it’s big waves and potentially dangerous swim in if you wipe out and loose a surfboard. Almost everyone who dares to surf the cove uses a leash and this day was no different. On the outside perhaps the biggest wave of the day was looming in. All the surfers in the line up were caught by surprise when a huge powerful wave broke over them. Everyone made it through intact except one surfer whose leash snapped. Coming up for air this surfer began to panic when he did not have his surfboard with him anymore. Fortunately two San Diego lifeguards were patrolling the line up on a jet ski but unfortunately they did not notice the surfer in trouble. Not use to swimming, at first this surfer froze unsure of what to do. Looking around the surfer spotted the lifeguards in the channel but he did not spot his surfboard, which was floating only a short distance away. Rather than swim quickly to retrieve his surfboard the surfer began waving his arms and yelling for help. This went on for ten minutes or more and still the guards never saw the distressed surfer. In the mean time his surfboard was slowly drifting to shore as he continued to summon the guards in vain. After drifting half way in and safely away from the crashing breakers the guards spotted the surfer and zoomed in for the rescue. Embarrassed to be rescued or fearful of swimming the surfer asked the guards to retrieve his surfboard. The guards refused saying that was not their job and so in the end the surfer had to swim in all the way on his own power. To rub salt into the wound his surfboard ended up broken on the shoreline rocks. Had he swam for his board in the beginning he could have saved it from breaking and himself from long swim?
It is assumed all surfers have a minimum ocean education and swimming skill levels.
With most surfers utilizing a leash these day’s this is no longer true. Many surfers have never ever had to swim for their surfboard. Surfing schools that offer surfing programs offer a complete education when they include ocean swimming education and skill building. Perhaps participants in so California’s professional surfing PE programs in the public schools should be required to take an ocean swimming exam and test before ever being allowed to participate in surfing. One does not have to be the strongest swimmer to be a surfer or an ocean swimmer but one does need to understand the ocean and it’s flow.
Knowing how to avoid or use rips, currents, tides and how to swim with the waves could save a surfers life. Whether swimming for health, piece of mind or a survival skill for surfing ocean swimming is proven to improve health and well being for humans both mentally and physically. For those not so keen on surfing or swimming just dipping ones toes in close to shore can have a completely rejuvenating effect. Surfing, swimming or just dipping all who come into the ocean leave renewed, feeling alive and clean.