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Anyone want to help a surfer?

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Feb 28, 2004
I don't know how many of you have had much surfing experience.
Being held underwater on a big wave or two and tumbled around like your in a washing machine after an adrenalin pumping wipeout makes it really difficult to hold your breath for any length of time.

So I would be grateful if anyone had any suggestions for me on how to hold my breath longer, and/or techniques to reduce heart rate etc.. in these sort of situations.

The most important thing with a big wave hold down is the abilty to relax. I've got a 3:40 static when fully relaxed in the pool however on a wipeout I can barely endure 10 seconds. The difference is that you heart rate is up from a combination of paddling, riding the wave, adrenaline, and now the force of the wave knocking out what little breath you managed to get before the fall. The wave is now holding you down and sometimes you don't even know which way is up. When this happens, I usually let my body go fully limp and my mind go blank to relax and get my heart rate down. Then when the wave lets up I try to follow my leash to the surface.

Some guys here in Hawaii train for wipeouts by running under water while holding rocks. I gues any sort of dynamic breath hold training would have the same effect. Hope this helps.
Hi hed

Welcome to DB Tmyers is right about relax. You might also try doing some dry statics, the length of time will probably surprise you and it gets you used to relaxation and co2 tolerance. Apnea walking is another good technique to build capacity and get used to the feeling.

good luck

Try doing exhale statics as well- where you completly exhale all of the air that you can out of your lungs and then see how long you can hold your breath.

Nothing builds up your confidence like knowing you can do a 1-2 minute+ breath hold with no air in your lungs at all.:cool:

I agree with Jon, I surf and freedive and have never got a full lung during a wipeout and big hold down. Empty/part empty lung training does heaps for the confidence levels which in turn has a big impact on how calm you are when that 2nd or 3rd wave of a set holds you down in the impact zone. There are lots of techniques you can try and training you can do but relaxing because you are confident in your breath hold ability makes the biggest difference.

I just realised you are down south. There is a lady in Adelaide (Maryanne Stacey) who was a member of the Aussie freedive team that went to Hawaii. She runs freedive courses and would probably help you. PM me if you would like her contact details.
Hi Hed.
Been surfing all my life. Used to spend winters on the North Shore, which is where I learned to freedive(Sharks Cove on the flat days, epic!).
I'd agree with all thats been said sofar. Target CO2 tolerance with apnea walking. (I wouldnt recomend running with rocks as the Hawaiins do, sounds like a recipe for disaster without a spotter.) O2 tolerance/empty lung work not such an issue as there is usually enough O2 to suvive even a two wave hold-down. As long as you keep your head, and your finger off the panic button.

Freediving has changed my whole approach to surfing big waves. I surf(the paddling part atleast) like I dive ie. slowly. I try to never let myself be caught out of breath. Even if I'm about to be caught inside by a 20' set I paddle slowly and focus on my breathing(slow and deep usually, but in this situation a bit of purging!). I know I can hold my breath long enough if I'm relaxed, so I rather take the devil I know(having the 20'er break infront of me) than the devil I dont(scratching you arse off only to have the lip land on your head).
And when I'm being worked I find I'm a lot more mindfull now of which muscles arent as relaxed as thay could be, definitly something I picked up from freediving.

Also, in bigger surf, I sit on my board during lulls and breathe a bit deeper and from the abdomin(as opposed to lying on my board)

Another freediving trick i have used to good effect is packing. Sometimes when you straighten out on a very big wave and you have a wall of whitewater behind you its best to wait a few second before jumping off your board as I'm shure you know. I used to hold my breath during these few seconds because Iwas afraid that if I continued breathing I might suddenly go down at the end of an exhale with not much air in my lungs. Now I pack during these few seconds. It's safe cause even if you inhale water into your mouth it wont end up in your lungs. Also, the extra bouyancy the air provides maked the swim up a bit easier if youre not wearing a suit.

One thing I've often thought of doing in big surf but havent yet tried is doing a few static warmups on the beach or in the channel. This would give you nearly double your bottom time(or comfort in this case). The warm up effect(increased buffers) should at least last the duration of a heat.

One more thing. In Cape Town where I'm from, I find that if I lay face down in the water for a few seconds at a time(during long lulls), or even splash water on my face I feel a slowing of the heart. Water here is cold though 12-14 celcius.

A session of pack-stretching before paddling out might also help to a small degree.

Even if you dont do any of these things and just dive your confidence should grow. chow
Try counting to yourself. I know it sounds simple but when you realize how short of a hold down it really was, it helps you relax a bit more. Yeah I know it sounds too simple but helps me. Then again bouncing off the reef never did anything to improve my breath hold.

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