I got pummeled by the waves today. They were big for my beach at least.

If I delay a swim until later in the day I often lose momentum to get it in there. Today I did procrastinate which put my swim well into the afternoon when the wind picks up and waves are sure to be strong and unfriendly. But I figured I would just make this a day to practice swimming with waves. As I started driving out of my village toward the sea I was met by very strong steady wind coming in from the coast- the kind that stirs up really big waves. I figured I would just make this a BIG wave practice day then. As I still a few kilometers away I could see white caps on the sea in the distance. I figured then that I would just make this a BIG wave and salt-water drinking practice day.

I finally got to the beach and found a hand-full of sunbathers laying along the beach but the water was virtually deserted. The 1 meter swells were pounding the pebbled shore- these were not swimming conditions. I immediately thought of my TI Israel comrades who just finished a relay English Channel crossing- I thought, even these waves here today could never get as tough as the Channel! So I was not going to hesitate today anymore.

I thought I would do 4x 15 minute runs up and down the coast, closer to shore, to put in a good hour of rough-sea training. But within minutes I was being picked up and slapped down by the peaked swells, getting salt water shoved down my throat.  It was definitely sea-sickness conditions if you were in a boat. Laying just under the waves I was fine, but as I swam along the swells would rise up under my legs and lift me as if to flip me heels over head- it reminded me of  what it felt like as a surfer in Oregon to be picked up on my surf board from behind and smashed back down head first.(I was not a very good Oregon surfer).

Breaststroke was the way to go in these conditions. I did that for a few minutes, just gliding under the waves and then taking advantage of the generous breathing pattern to time breaths between slappings. But that was not how I would be making progress in such rough conditions if I were racing. So I went back to freestyle and started tinkering with my tempo to find a more suitable pattern in this abusive chop. I found that a faster tempo, earlier spearing entry, and rolling toward the waves to breath worked better, when swimming with the waves hitting me at 10 oclock. I could see them coming that way and decide whether to breath or hold it another stroke.  Coming back with the waves was a bit easier as I was then being shoved by the waves at 4 oclock and found I didn’t get water shoved in my face as much.

I could not imagine trying to cross the Channel in such conditions- here I still have 28 C water, visibility to 4m and the shore only 20 meters away. Dang.  But in the Channel it’s cold, dark, lonely and often fierce I imagine. I suppose a swimmer can start out with clear skies and a smooth sea promise, but once in the middle they’re considerably committed to the effort. I am sure it takes a strong mind and heart to decide to stick it out when that promise is broken and France is still a long ways away.

I took advantage of the fact that I had little reason to force myself to keep drinking salt water so I headed to shore at 28 minutes. Enough for today! Next time I’ll get my buns out the door a lot earlier.

© 2010, Mediterra International, LLC. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mediterra International, LLC and Mediterraswim.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Translate »

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

To receive the latest news and updates from Mediterra.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

[css] body .gform_wrapper ul li.gfield { padding-bottom:40px; }