The thing about spring is that you can never really tell what the weather is going to do. And we’ve had some crazy weather around here even for spring. On Friday I got up for my morning boxing class and it was 9 degrees and raining! The Friday before that it was 32 and sunny…so how on earth is a girl supposed to know what to wear?

The media had been talking about massive waves and dangerous surf conditions for a couple of days, but I usually tend to take it with a grain of salt because

  1. There are more and less sheltered areas even at a beach as small as Bondi
  2. the media does like to talk these things up
  3. I’ve heard it before when conditions have been just fine
  4. And I tend to have fun on the bigger surf days….bodysurfing!

Well for all my bravado, Saturday was actually HUGE!!!!!!

It was seriously rough out there and the waves were big and powerful. We were particularly careful..coach Kingy spoke to the surf lifesavers and asked them to keep an eye on us. We also took things very easy and stayed between the flags (although the more experienced bodysurfers went off on their own after a bit).

But it was still super hard work. Goggles were lost and salt water was swallowed (and inhaled!).

I may have bitten off more that I could realistically handle and tried to catch a wave that was way too big for me. It tumbled me and slammed me onto the sand and held me down. I finally found my feet and surfaced for air…only to get smashed in the face by another wave! It would only have been a couple of seconds total, but it was enough to give a bit of a fright to even a dedicated big-wave swimmer like me.

I guess that goes to show, that if you’re out there, sooner or later you’re going to get dumped. The question is what you’re going to do about it. As someone who got pretty badly slammed a mere 3 days ago and lived to swim another day, I feel justified in offering the following advice:

  1. DON’T PANIC!!!! That’s in all caps because it is really, really important. As soon as you panic you’re going to gasp and that’s a quick way to inhale water and really get yourself in trouble.
  2. Don’t panic. Even after a couple of seconds under the water, still don’t let the panics set in. I can’t emphasis how important this is.
  3. Don’t fight the wave. It’s headed to shore and it’s probably not going to take you the whole way (if it does, though, even better). It’ll roll over the top of you and you can breathe then.
  4. Roll with the wave. If you’re trying to fight it, you’ll stiffen up. Firstly that’s energy you should save for when it passes, and secondly, you’re more likely to actually hurt yourself if you do get dumped on the sand.
  5. Breathe out. It’ll seem like the opposite of what you want to do, but it’s actually the build-up of carbon-dioxide from holding your breathe that gives you that panicky feeling, not a lack of oxygen. Breathe out slowly and steadily. You can stay down without a lungful of air for a couple of seconds without any problem (practice in a pool if you don’t believe me) and whilst it feels like a long time, that’s generally more than enough time for the wave to pass over the top of you.
  6. If you can find the bottom, give yourself a good push off. It’s easy to get disoriented so don’t fight in a particular direction unless you’re sure it’s “Up”.
  7. Open your eyes and look as you break the surface of the water…the first thing you want to know is how far away the next wave is.
  8. If you’ve fought your way in after a nasty dump, don’t be afraid to sit out a set. If the adrenalin is still flowing, in particular. It’s OK to give yourself a little chance to catch your breathe and calm down on dry land.
  9. But don’t stay out tooooo long. Back on the proverbial horse before it beats you!
Here it comes!

Here it comes!

Peeping over the top...

Peeping over the top…

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