Swim Training For Surfing

Surfing is great fun, however surfing when fit is even more fun! Being surf fit means you can get out the back of the waves easier, surf for longer and recover faster after catching a wave or after a bail – all contributing to the scale of fun. As well as increasing your enjoyment, being surf fit is going to make you a better and safer surfer.


Before you head away for your surfing trip or if you just want to increase your surf fitness, check out our guideline below, head into your local pool a couple of times a week and start training.


How to become surf fit


Even though you do not do a huge amount of swimming when you go out surfing, the things you do are similar to swimming.

Paddling – Very similar to freestyle swimming

Core control – Needed when swimming freestyle

Holding your breath – Used in all swimming

Cardio fitness – Used in all swimming


Apart from spending time surfing, doing regular swimming training sessions in the pool is the best way to get surf fit.


What to do in the pool


Here at Swim360 Coach we have developed a special swim training plan for surfers, the plan includes special swimming exercises aimed at simulating aspects of a surfing session. Below is one of our session plans:


Surfers swim session


Warm up –

400m easy and relaxed freestyle

4 x 50m swum as: 20m underwater, 30m easy freestyle – rest 30 seconds between each 50m


Main set –

8 x 100m swum as: 10m underwater, 40m freestyle fast, 25m head up freestyle(link to video), 25m freestyle easy – rest 20 seconds between each 100m


Extra set –

12 x 50m swum as: 1st 50m – 25m butterfly, 25m freestyle. 2nd 50m – 25m backstroke, 25m freestyle. 3rd 50m – 25m breaststroke, 25m freestyle. Repeat 1, 2, 3 until you get a total of 12 x 50m. Rest 15 seconds between each 50m.



100m easy relaxed freestyle


How often and how much should I do


The surfers swim session above is aimed at surfers that can swim already. Depending on what level swimmer you are the swim session can be tailored down or up – for example, everything can be halved (4 x 100m instead of 8 x 100m for example) or can be doubled if you are a good swimmer. Tailor it to your needs and build up as you increase your fitness. For optimum results do these sessions 2 or 3 times a week, however even just doing it once will benefit your surfing.


Carl is head coach at Swim360 Coach, a former Olympian and national champion freestyler. Carl now uses his skills and passion for coaching and competing in the open water.