It was that time of the year again on Friday. Time for proficiency test. Everyone who works as a surf coach has to pass the proficiency test once a year. No matter if you are a stand up paddle coach or work at the local surf school or if you give surf lessons in some other capacity like we do during the Venus Goes Gidget Surf-Aways.
The practical part is aimed at testing your fitness and refreshing your board rescue skills and includes a 500m swim in under 10 min and some other mean boot style camp exercises like ocean swim – run – paddle – run. And not to forget board rescue techniques, which is kind of the easy part. Although not too easy either, if you have to pretend to rescue a 90-kilo guy. Try that with a 5’11 short board…
I’ve never been a big fan of the swimming test in particular. Don’t get me wrong, by all means I know how to swim but I did not grow up in Australia and in Austria we were more focused on our skiing and ice-skating skills rather than swimming. Long story short, my swimming technique is not as polished as it could be and whilst I can swim for ages (I think surfing gave me in-built floaties), I’m admittedly not the fastest when it comes to swimming. And I hate being last.
I guess I was still traumatised from last year’s. Even though I had made it, I’d been overtaken by what seemed like very fast Olympic swimmers and ok, I was not last but second last and just made the 10 min. I’d sworn to myself then that I would swim heaps more and be heaps better next time.
Life seemed to have a slightly different plan though. I actually did maintain my swimming for a good part throughout the year. However, little did I know then that I will have an accident and I will be out of action for a while just two months out of my next proficiency. In addition to that, one week before the proficiency, I caught a nasty cold.
I can tell you I was not a very happy gidget in the week leading up to the proficiency. But I was still determined to make it. I rocked up at the test with a croaky voice, cough and blocked noise. And far out, I was struggling throughout the swim…not fun at all when you are a sick puppy. But I pushed through and don’t ask me how but I made it. And I was only fourth last…well, actually I was fifth best J Not that I’m competitive or anything. I then survived the ocean swim – run – paddle – run too and the aforementioned board rescue bit. Needless to say, I was pretty sick for the rest of the weekend and missed out on any surf. Not that there was too much to miss out on though.
Even though, the proficiency and the swim are a bit of a pain in the b$&% (especially when you are sick), I have to say there is method to madness. It made me realise again and they keep reiterating it too, how important it is to maintain a certain level of core fitness not just for a surf coach but for everyone who surfs.
Have you ever thought about what happens if you lose your board in 5-6ft surf? Would you be able to swim back to shore?
If you find a swimmer struggling in the surf and you are the only other person out there with your board, would you know what to do without getting yourself into danger?
You don’t have to become a lifeguard or surf coach to know what to do, there are other ways of learning. You could do your Bronze at the local Surf Club or if you are not up for the full Bronze, Surfing NSW has launched a great initiative called Surfer’s Rescue 24/7. It is a free CPR and board rescue course for surfers. Have a look here: surfersrescue247.com
As for the swim part of things, it’s quite smart to incorporate some swim practice into your training regime. I’m trying to be a good girl and go for a swim instead when the surf conditions are not great for example. Bondi especially is great for a bit of ocean swim practice on those flat summer days and even though it does not look it at this stage, those flat spells will return eventually.
Looking out of the window now, I have to admit, it’s probably better to have a day out of the water altogether. Strong onshore winds, rain and surf all over the place. Yikes. Looks like the weather is calming down by the end of the week and summer will return then. Yay right in time for our next Venus Goes Gidget Surf-Away.
Have a great week gidgets and friends of gidgets.