Nearly every surfer has experienced the sensation: pinned to the ocean bottom, trying to swim for the surface, desperate for a few quick gasps of air to avoid what might happen if they don’t. Water swirling; surroundings dark; up is down, down becomes up. It’s a scary moment and therefore, a tough time to stay composed – even the pros say so.
According to Kirk Krack, of Performance Freediving International, who teaches a surf survival course around breath holding, composure is key. While on the North Shore, six Oakley surfers took part in Krack’s two-day course to better prepare themselves for the type of hold-downs and life-threatening situations that come with competitive surfing and freesurfing waves like Teahupoo, Pipeline, Jaws and many of the other heavy-water breaks around the world.
During the course, the crew of guys – which ranged from big-wave surfers Danny Fuller and Rico Jimenez to WCT vets Adam Melling and Tommy Whitaker to upcoming pros Eric Geiselman and Thomas Woods – learned the science of how the body is affected by a lack of CO2 and then got in the pool to put into action their live-saving education. As you’ll see, learning to stay submerged for upwards of four or five minutes isn’t a feat strictly for NAVY Seals – one of the guys added almost four minutes to how long he could hold his breath based on what he learned and applied.
As Jimenez says in the clip, “confidence, knowledge and skill” are key elements to surviving in the water. For these surfers, this course helped to illustrate just how science and technology can feed into future performances when the conditions get heavy and things go wrong.