Gratuitous paddling photo courtesy: BrownDogWilson
If you're not a great swimmer then you may need to improve your front crawl as this is the best stroke for gaining improvements in your paddle fitness.
Before embarking on a swimming program for surfing fitness first look at the key areas you will to work on;
Take a long paddle out for example, slightly on shore, waves making the going tuff, your Heart Rate (HR) will start at a low end aerobic level at about 60-65% of your Max Heart Rate (MHR), as paddling continues and the duck diving starts, your heart rate increases, once it reaches about 80-85% of your MHR ( breathing rate is heavy ) you will then become boarder line anaerobic, at this point depending again on wave size, and your duck diving ability's your HR will most Likely be Around 85-95% of your MHR.
These factors must be taken into account when swim training for boosting paddle power, it's just not good enough to swim up and down at a light to moderate pace, swim training sets that best push you up into these HR training zones are the key to really good paddle fitness.
And of course don't forget there also sprint paddle fitness, for example, a wave is fat, sluggish that lacks power, you can't always expect to gently stroke into a wave very often there will have to be some form of super fast arm movement, if you're and intermediate or advanced surfer then you will of course see sets that roll in to the left of you or right, in order to make the wave shoulder there will have to be at some point extra fast paddling.
Sprint training in the pool or resistance cord training can make a real difference to your wave count on slack or poor wave days.
Next up, some basic examples which if done on a regular basis can make a real improvement to your surfing;
Remember what you're areas you're improving:
Set 1 low end chilled out swimming basic surfing fitness
300-400 m front crawl 6-8 minutes
Swim 2x 800m front crawl swimming your breathing should be light; this distance is dependent on your swimming ability if it’s not that great you may want to consider just swimming for 7-8 minutes nonstop.
After each 800m take 2 minutes rest then repeat.
At the end of these swims swim down for 200-300m
Set 2 mid –high end aerobic fitness swimming endurance surfing fitness
4x300 m front crawl at a pace that generates heavy breathing, i.e. 70-85% of your MHR
After each 300m give yourself 60 seconds rest, then repeat it is important during this set to remember that breathing should be heavy, if you can hold a short conversation with somebody but on longer you know your there, again set size is dependent on swimming ability
Set 3 Anaerobic swim training super improvements in surf endurance fitness
This is a bit more complicated, your aim is to push yourself over the high end aerobic training zone, this is a very grey area, it’s often hard to be totally exact on whether you’re in this zone or not unless you are experienced in swimming training types, but the ruff aim is to do shorter distances which will allow you to work at just under your MHR at about 90% effort.
Try Swimming 8x100m Front crawl With an off time, 2.30 seconds as an example this is also your turn around time, you have 2 minutes and thirty seconds to swim 100m at this pace of 90% effort depending on your fitness you should aim to hold the same time for every 100m you swim.
If your 100m swim time is about 1.50 then try to do the same time for each 100m.
Swim down 300-400 easy front crawl.
Set 4 surf fitness swimming sprint training
16x25m front crawl with 30 seconds rest after each 25m, for these one length sprint aim to hit your max swimming speed!
Swim down should just be a light 400-500 swim.
These 4 sessions could be done all in one session if you have the time however this is not the best way to plan out your swimming program for surfing fitness.
Try this basic plan this is only an example mix it up weekly for best results
|A basic plan for swimming sessions during the week to improve your paddling|
|Low End Aerobic set||Anaerobic set||Sprint set|
|Sprint set||Low end aerobic set||Low end aerobic set|
|High end aerobic set|
Break your swimming training up like these to vary the swimming training types but try to cover all areas.
So there we have it. Get started, stick to it and see the results. Happy swimming!
Article by Lee Stanbury, Surfing-Waves.com resident surf fitness guru, author of the Complete Guide to Surf Fitness.
Lee has worked with top surf athletes Ben Skinner and Oli Adams, and developed fitness coaching with the U18 British surf team. Check out his swim store for gear and further tips at fit4swimming.com