Being comfortable in and navigating the surf is a valuable skillset for triathletes. Practicing and integrating the following exercises will help prepare you for whatever Poseidon throws at you come race day.
Study the Conditions
Before entering the water, take a few minutes on the shore to assess and familiarize yourself with the specific water conditions you will be facing. The more information you have on what the water is doing in the moment, the better prepared you will be to work with the water.
Where do the waves break?
Take note of where the waves are breaking from the beach. On certain days, the waves may break right onshore and others the break may be 100 yards offshore. This will help you gauge where you will make your first dive under a wave, as well as how far out you will have to swim before you're clear of the break.
What is the frequency of the waves?
Count the number of seconds between one wave breaking to the next wave breaking. This period of time can often be anywhere from two to 12 seconds. Knowing this will prepare you for the succession of waves to come. For example, sometimes it's most efficient to dive under two waves if they are only a few seconds apart.
What is the sea floor like?
Each beach has unique characteristics, including the ocean floor. Some spots have super smooth sandy bottoms that gradually get deeper as you go out, while others are rocky and have many pits that can present unique challenges. Take the time to walk out into the water so that you know what to expect when the gun goes off to start the race.