Do you want to be a better surfer? Then it is time to go swimming!

Training & Technique
Written by: Nico Gil at 29 August '15 0
You are reading: Do you want to be a better surfer? Then it is time to go swimming!

I will begin this article by being as honest as possible and admitting that, to tell the truth, the best way to become a good surfer is simply….. to surf a lot. From a training viewpoint, this is known as the “specificity” principle. But, to be equally honest, it needs to be pointed out that, even if you live at the best beach in the world for surfers or you are constantly travelling in search of that adrenaline rush or even if you are a professional with great means at your disposal, sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where the waves are not very good or there are no waves at all. Without considering the rest of us common mortals, who live miles away from the coast and are forced to put up with long, freezing cold winters!

This is when you will have to find another sport or alternative activity that allows you to keep fit, train in complete safety and make the most of any opportunities you have to get out into the sea.

Swimming is the best thing of all.

Let me explain why:

Water is your element …

So “swimming” will always be a more effective and “specific” type of training than running or cycling for improving or keeping trained the two energy systems required for surfing: the aerobic and anaerobic systems


Biomechanically speaking, freestyle is the closest movement to the rowing action involved in surfing, which makes it an excellent option for improving your rowing efficiency.

More fun!

Being a good swimmer will allow you to develop greater muscular strength in your arms and upper body, so you will not tire so easily and will be able to surf a lot more waves and make the most of your time in the sea.


Swimming training will improve your ability to deliver oxygen to your muscles, allowing you to get to your chosen waves before your opponents,  maintain a good level of strength and power during surfing manoeuvres and recover more quickly between one wave and the next.

Mastery of your board

Your level of fitness in the water will be crucial for avoiding all those dangerous situations, like, for example, a prolonged wipe-out, losing your board or drifting into an unexpected water current.

Let me explain where:

At the pool: this is actually the best place to take a swimming lesson or do a training session. The conditions never change in the pool: still, clear water at the ideal temperature.

In open water: lakes, rivers, the sea and ocean….. all locations where the conditions vary, a stimulating challenge. Here you will find the same conditions as when you go surfing: currents, waves and wind, so open water is an extremely interesting environment for training in more realistic conditions for your sport.


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Written by:

Nico Gil

Nico Gil has lived and breathed sports ever since he was a child. Chosen to represent his country Argentina in international swimming and water polo competitions, he finished his career as a professional athlete in Europe. Today he is a renowned High Performance personal trainer. His career as an athlete, coupled with complex ongoing training and experience acquired over the years, has enabled him to develop his own cutting-edge training systems geared to different branches of physical activity: Health and Sports Performance. Today, Nico manages a sports centre in Tenerife and coaches world class swimmers, triathletes and surfers.