|Learning proper paddle technique at Surf Simply.
Photo: Oriana Fowler/Surf Simply
I think that the hardest part of surfing for me – both mentally and physically – is the paddle out. Standing at the water’s edge, I have to psyche myself up so that I can keep my fear and anxiety at bay and so that I don’t feel intimidated by the waves. Well, at least less intimidated. You never know how it will go or how the waves will treat you. Sometimes it’s super easy and you can paddle out with dry hair with just a couple of press-ups up and over the tops of the waves. Other times, you get punched and slapped by the waves and do what feels like a million turtle rolls to make your way through the waves. It can take 20-30 grueling minutes to finally get out past the breaking waves and be in position to actually catch a wave.
I know that I need to build my paddle endurance and strength. Aside from surfing, the best way to do that is by swimming. Yesterday, I finally had a chance to get back in the pool. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to find the time to swim. I love to swim. There’s a pool nearby. I’ve already paid for a swim pass card. I think that it’s mainly the hours. Lap swim is in the morning and in the evenings, which makes sense. I love working out in the mornings and would love to swim then. However, lately, it’s been near impossible for me to wake up before 7am or 7:30am because I’ve been staying up way too late at night. I know that I need to be better about going to sleep earlier at night.
Yesterday, it was so lovely to be back in the water. Swimming brings me a sense of calm and peace. Maybe it’s the methodical motion of my arms and legs and the repetition of doing laps. While I am not a huge fan of running miles and miles around a track, I manage to lose myself in my swims. Swim, turn, swim, turn, swim…
While I felt like my arms were moving through molasses at first, I was able to pick up my pace and get a decent swim. I ended up swimming 2500 yards:
– 600 warm-up (200 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick)
– 500 pull
– 500 swim
– 2 x 200 swim
– 4 x 75 (alternating slow, fast slow and fast, slow, fast)
– 200 cool-down
A big part of paddling (and swimming) is learning to be efficient with your stroke. You want to make sure that every stroke counts and helps propel you forward rather than feeling like your hands are just slipping through the water. How do you do that? Well, you want to lightly cup your hands so that you can “grip” and catch more water. There should be a little bit of space between you fingers. Your hand shouldn’t be tightly closed ice cream scoopers (as my son’s swim teacher likes to call them) but they shouldn’t be splayed wide open either. As your hand enters the water and you begin to pull section of your stroke, don’t pull straight back. Instead, you want to make a S-curve through the water as you pull back. Why? Because you’ll displace more water. More water displaced = more movement forward.
What intimidates you? How do you build up strength and endurance to take on something that scares or intimidates you? Do you have any paddling tips?
Disclaimer: I’m not a swim coach or instructor so this is just what I’ve learned as I’ve worked with some amazing swim coaches over the years and what works for me.