Surfing in itself can be physically demanding depending on:
- how much we push ourselves,
- how extreme the environment is that we are surfing in, and
- what the waves we are riding demand from us.
Grabbing a pair of fins and leaving the surfboard behind once in a while is a good way to not only stay fit, but to train for situations where swimming through waves may be the only option. When would you be required to do an ocean swim:
- If your leash breaks,
- if you choose to not surf with a leash and you lose your board, or
- if you need to perform a rescue swim to assist someone in the water.
When I coach the 6th-8th grade children in Santa Cruz, I always surf with the children, but often ditch the board, and put on the fins to swim with them and get in a couple of hours of ocean swim time. For what I do, I also have a fanny pack carrying an emergency whistle and knife (just in case).
There are a variety of swim fins suitable for ocean swimming. The lifeguard fins are usually going to be made from a harder and less flexible rubber, but will give you speed right out of the gate to get you to where you need to be (as in the case of an ocean rescue).
One day I got to surf practice and forgot my neoprene fin-socks.
The result was multiple blisters that had ripped open and were bleeding by the time I came out of the water. In the cold water of Santa Cruz, my feet were numb enough to not know what was happening. Here is what they looked like after getting back home and cleaning the blisters:
Once you have an open wound, take care of the wounds to assure they stay clean and monitor the healing progress each day. I used raw honey on the wounds, changed dressings every day, and was back in the water in about a week. Open blisters are painful but will heal with proper care.
Keep surfing, grab a pair of fins (with fin socks) and do ocean swims intermittently between your surf sessions, and be prepared in the water like the true Water Men/Women that came before us.