Wipeouts: a three-wave hold-down is always a nightmare | Photo: Hugo Silva/Red Bull

Getting pounded by an overhead shorebreak wave is tough, and it can get worse if you're held underwater for more than your lungs authorize you to.

Taking a beating in big waves is a bit like dying - it's a very personal and solo experience. But calm down, there's good news - only rarely do people die/drown in this situation.

Learning to deal with brutal wipeouts can be painful, but in surfing, there will always be a few moments when you wish you were at home watching inspiring movies about surfing in tropical waters.

Swimming and running will improve your overall conditioning and fitness levels.

Practicing breath-holding is also an excellent exercise, but you don't need to be close to passing out.

Forget the surfboard. It will be your least concern. A heavy beating will test you both physically and mentally, so you should be ready for the challenge.

Two and three-wave hold-downs are a typical surfer's nightmare. They will make you lose orientation briefly, but you'll eventually pop up safe and unharmed.

The average wave hold-downs range between five and eight seconds in small waves and 12 seconds in head-high plus waves.

Surviving the Guillotine

So, if you can hold your breath for 20 seconds, there's plenty of time left for you to be comfortable.

The trick is to minimize oxygen consumption and keep cool. Whether you're going over the falls, getting sucked by a liquid cavern, or smacked down by an enormous close-out wave, it's really important to hold the nerves.

Nevertheless, here are our pieces of advice for handling the ultimate beating in surfing:

  1. Take a Deep Breath: Oxygen is gold when you're in front of a giant wall of water;
  2. Stay Calm and Relaxed: Don't panic and keep cool;
  3. Stay Positive and Confident: Everything will be okay in a matter of seconds;
  4. Dive Deep: Go head first and vertically unless it is too shallow;
  5. Protect Your Head and Face: Cover them with your arms to protect your brain from dangerous impacts;
  6. Stay Quiet: Let it roll by, and don't fight the washing machine; otherwise, you'll lose precious energy and oxygen;

Taking CPR training will help you deal with brutal poundings in the surf, but it can also benefit other fellow wave riders who may need your help.

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