Editor’s Note: Learn to push yourself, keep calm, and manage fear in heavy surf with Mark Healey’s Guide to Heavy Water.
Here’s a fact that’s easy to overlook when it comes to pushing your limits in heavy surf: you have to get back to land at some point and the safest route isn’t always what you might expect.
Sunset and Waimea Bay are good examples of places where people can lose their leash and then let their emotions get the best of them because they didn’t have a game plan. They’re faced with swimming in from a lineup that has a big channel and a rip pushing out. What happens in places like this? Well, you want to swim into the impact zone as fast as you can. You want to harness that energy of the waves to push you in. All that water is dumping out into a channel, going out to sea, and you will never make it to shore by swimming directly against that current.