Coastal challenge workout courtesy of WOWSA in Huntington Beach, California
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Some swimmers get seasick in rough water conditions. Some swimmers swallow water when the water gets bumpy. Turbulence, waves, swells and surface chop can wreck havoc on a swimmer, especially when they are not acclimated to difficult conditions.

When they practice in a pool and in calm conditions in lakes, they get accustomed to swimming in tranquility.

But every now and then in order to practice what ocean swimmers or channel swimmers may face in the worse-case scenario during races or solo swims, difficult rough water workouts can and should be attempted. These coastal challenge workouts are not easy by any means. These types of workouts are definitely not for beginners and live up to their name. These training sessions are only for the most seasoned swimmers who are accustomed to dealing with ocean waves and who are training with their most experienced swim buddies.

The coastal challenge workouts ask swimmers to train along a long stretch of beach where the surf is constant and where there is no reef, rocks or jetties where injuries may occur. Swimmers can swim inside the surf line or right alongside the line of whitewater and foam-crested waves breaking near the shoreline. so they are in a position to be constantly battered by the crashing surf and whitewater. With waves relentlessly coming at them every 5-10 seconds, the swimmers must always be on high alert. Their focus must be constant and their attention to the dynamics of the ocean becomes necessarily concentrated like never before.

Laura Hamel of Sarasota YMCA Sharks Masters Swimming says, “There’s something thrilling and magical about being tossed around by huge waves. Your body learns to move in rhythm with the water. Even if the surf is disorganized, you can learn to feel what’s coming and adjust your stroke and breathing to accommodate it.”

Under these conditions, as Hamel says, swimmers can gain valuable experience in the roughest and most difficult of sea conditions. They necessarily develop breathing patterns that become in unison with the dynamics of the ocean. They might swallow a bit of water every now and then – or get surprised by a random wave or whitewater, but the practice is invaluable and pays off dividends.

Bruckner Chase agrees, “We live for this kind of [rough] stuff. You should see some of the stuff our guards go out into for our training sessions offshore. We also have a names for these sessions: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday.”

Whether it is coach Pam Lazzarotto in Sauble Beach on Lake Huron in Canada [part of its 12 miles of white sand and sandbars are shown above] or Theodore Yach getting ‘shmangled‘ during his pod’s weekly workouts on Clifton 4th beach near Cape Town, South Africa, experienced swimmers frequently know that dealing in rough conditions during practice makes tough swims more bearable on race day.

The video above from coaches of the World Open Water Swimming Association gives some hints, visuals and information on these difficult coastal challenge workouts.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association