Over the past week, there has been an increased swell in Santa Cruz. This has caused a problem for both entering and exiting the water. Swimmers need to be careful in timing their entry/exit so that they do not get pounded or tossed in the surf zone. It can lead to serious injuries. This is something that can be practiced to prevent problems.
In some cases, when entering the water, if the wave is too high or if it is breaking in front of you, it is better to actually go through the wave. Some refer to this as a “dolphin” type of approach where you would attempt to punch through the wave. It can help you to get through the wave safely.
Exiting the water is a bit challenging. If you have the time and can afford to wait, it is better to look at the timing of the waves and exit the water between the sets. If you can not wait, another method is to attempt to swim in after a wave has passed. That is, come in on the back side of a wave. That will give you the most time between waves in which to make it to where your feet are in the bottom and you can start to get out. In this case, once your feet hit the ground, it is important to get out of the water as fast as possible because there is most likely another wave coming in right behind you. You are in a vulnerable location and your rapid exit is important.
If this is a race, for the entry, pay attention to what the waves are doing before the start. If you can get in the water to warm up and quickly practice, it is great to do so. The “dolphin” entry may be key. For the exit, you may end up simply taking your chances. If you exit while the wave is breaking, it may be necessary to body surf the wave. Be prepared to be bounced around and do not stiffen up. A rigid body will get hurt.
Play it smart and safe.