TECHNIQUE and FITNESS
ENTERING THE WATER
Once you're ready and you took the time to observe the spot, jump in!
When to fit your fins on? Pros and cons for both techniques below so go for the one you are the most comfortable with regarding the conditions.
1/ Putting your fins on the sand: nice and comfy, fit your fin savers and adjust everything properly. It is not easy to enter the water and progress until you're deep enough to start swimming with them on. You may end up with sand in your fins, it could be easy to get rid of it (depending on your fins) or you may end up with grazes due to your foot rubbing on the sand in your fin...
2/ Put your fins in the water: wait to be hips to chest deep and fit them on. This technique will make it easier to enter the water and progress a bit however, it is not always easy to fit one fin on and to secure the other one while you're getting "bashed" by white water, keeping an upright position and adjusting them. It takes some practice to do it quickly between 2 waves but it works...
Make sure to to do it where you could stand, if you loose a fin while fitting them on, you want to still be able to walk back to the shore and not getting stuck in a rip current...
SWIMMING IN THE SURF
Swim head up to see where you're going but also keep an eye on the surf and other board users coming towards you.
Take your time, be regular within your stroke (sing a song in your head and follow the beat!), keeping your breathing rate low, ready to hold your breathe to go under or accelerate to pass a wave or going out of the way...
You'll have to get used to dive under the breaking waves to make progress (otherwise you may end up in the washing machine!).
A couple of techniques to know:
- Duck dive: dive head first, your arms in front of you (increase the glide and protection if necessary). Keep kicking to make progress and not going backwards under the white water. This technique takes a bit of time but is allowing you to go as deep as you wish.
- Seal dive: body in upright position, use your arms and hands to paddle under, your head being the last to be immersed. Easy and quick to do, low in energy / O2 consumption, very useful in small to mid size surf or to take a break while progressing out.
When the surf is small to medium, no need to dive deep and early, just dive before the incoming wave, adjust your depth and kick to pop out or just glide under after your dive. You could use both techniques to make progress.
When the surf is bigger, you will have to dive a bit earlier
When the surf is bigger, you will have to dive a bit earlier and deeper to avoid the underwater turbulence from the breaking wave.
Same principles than above, keep your arms straight in front of you, keep kicking to make progress and not going backward.
You could also grab the sea bed and wait for the wave to pass.
Just before you surfaced, exhale your air, so once your head is out, you could inhale immediately and keep swimming or re-dive.
When you are surfacing, make sure you've got your arms on top of you, to get protection from potential boards floating around you and also to be ready to keep swimming, looking ahead for direction, surf and board users.
Progressing to the line up, you will have to make your way through waves, breaking waves and board users.
Always swim wide around people to avoid collision or aim for the white water if you've got somebody surfing towards you.
Anticipate your dive