How to thrive in any conditions
- Pay attention to the pattern of the waves ahead of time (typically 3–6 to a set, and 12–18 seconds apart). Ask the lifeguard for patterns.
- If you’re nervous in big waves, wait for the 30–40-second stall after a series and then go.
- To get under a wave, dive down and drive your fingertips into the sand, count 1,001, 1,002 and pop back up.
- If possible, do a practice swim in the water the day before to see how your body reacts to your planned gear.
- If it’s lower than 58 degrees, dip your head in multiple times before the race to rid yourself of an ice-cream headache.
- Warm up your core with a short jog and light band work as close to the race start as possible.
- Do not go out with a big effort at the beginning unless you’ve practiced it frequently (or are a pro).
- Switch your breathing side if necessary.
- Chop from head-on: Learn to roll, bounce and ride into the chop if possible. “It generally hurts weaker swimmers badly as power is needed,” Rodrigues says.
- Chop from behind: Simply ride the offshore waves and allow your body to flow with the water.
- Wear clear goggles (no tint).
- Sight very frequently (every 4–6 strokes).
- Look for larger markers or landmarks as visual assistance, and use triangle points for reference.
- If you get trapped in a fog bank, stop, then listen for voices from the shore line or an assistance craft and head toward it.