Why Swimming is Good For: Surfing Pt. 1

For the next few months we are going to start a series titled “Why swimming is good for…”. This week FINIS Vice President Tim Elson explains the benefits of training in a swimming pool for those who surf.

If you do not have the luxury to live by an ocean, and want to stay in surfing shape, swimming in a pool may just be the best option. Swimming freestyle and paddling use very similar motions and muscles. Swimming is one of the best things you could do to help your surfing because for both sports you use every type of energy system:  aerobic, aerobic threshold and anaerobic.  We will now touch on aerobic and aerobic threshold and what types of sets entails both.

Aerobic conditioning will allow you to extend your sessions longer.  Merely by swimming long moderate distances will allow you to be comfortable in a two hour surf session in moderate to big conditions.  Such distances might be 2-3 thousand yard swims with a couple minutes rest in between, or cut the distance in half to 500’s but 4 or 5 repeats again with a couple of minutes rest in between each one.  The SwiMP3 2G would be a great training aid for this getting through these long swims.

Aerobic threshold sets would allow you to continue to paddle strong between rides and get back into the lineup without too much agony.  This type of swimming might be something like 15 x 100’s starting off with a strong effort, but one that can be maintained for all 15 with only 10-20 seconds rest in between each 100.

For strong accomplished swimmer a 2-3 hour session in big conditions could be the equal to doing 5-10,000 yards in a pool.  Thus, when the waves are small, 1-2 hours a day 3 days a week would greatly enhance one’s preparedness for surfing, and an avid surfer should be able to go at least 3,000 yards in an hour or more depending on their age and swimming ability.

Keep your eyes open for part 2 of this blog, where we will describe anaerobic and sprint training in the pool for surf enthusiasts.

**For those of you who are not familiar with the technical swim terms I will now explain some of the annotations that Tim mentioned above.

  • In 25-yard pools a 100 is equal to 4 laps; a 200 = 8 laps  & a 500 = 20 laps
  • In 50-meter pools a 100 is equal to 2 laps; a 200 = 4 laps  & a 500 = 10 laps
  • When you see a “x” it means sets or times through; 15 x 100s = 15 times through a 100 [4 laps]