The first wave-catching outing of the season is always dicey. Trepidation infects you; your arms are a bit out of shape, your lungs haven’t been recently tested, your fins might not fit perfectly, and your body board goes its own happy way. The waves look bigger now than in late summer when you’re used to reading the swell.
An early big set puts you off guard. One after another, the rollers dash against you. When you come up for air, you can’t see. Your hair is over your eyes, your board is pulling against the current, and your legs are kicking madly to propel you outside. There is no rest.
Here comes a large roller—do I swim towards it and avoid its heartless crashing over my head? Or, do I stand my ground and take it like a woman? I swim towards it. I always do that. No question about that one. There’s something smug about swimming hard towards the swell and just in time catching the pre-break arc, curving up, catching air, and feeling the forceful waters drawing everything just inches shore side of you to the washing machine.
This weekend was cooking: air temperatures in the 80’s and water temperatures in the mid to high sixties. Add a bit of a swell. Outstanding for May. I am not a year-round body boarder. But I thoroughly enjoyed my outing. Catch a wave. Take a left. Woosh down and yell. When it takes you ten minutes to get back outside, it’s a pounding day. Get another ride and swim upstream for ten minutes.
Two days later, I can’t lift my arms.