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Wim Hof and friend in an ice bath. Photo via Twitter
Columns Waterspot

Waterspot: The cold breath of winter

“The goal is to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”

— Cameron Trickey, personal trainer and former pro Australian Rules football player

At this writing, the sky is a blanket of bright blue in all directions. If you stand beyond the shadows, it’s warm outside. Yet, dipping a single toe into the ocean proves that winter is on its way.

For most surfers that means a full wetsuit. I say most because there are a few among us who relish the cold and surf in wetsuits vests, or nothing more than trunks and raw skin throughout the year.

Some of the aforementioned hearty souls have little bodily insulation against the cold, stay out for hours and appear healthy.

While I’m not sure how everyone battles the elements, I do know there are ways to prepare ourselves against the sting of the coming seasonal shift.

While you’ll never see me in sub-60-degree water without a wetsuit, I do wear as little rubber as possible in the time of the big chill.

I first became aware of “The Iceman,” Wim Hof, through friend and fellow surfer, Cameron Trickey. Trickey, who is probably the most ruggedly fit person I know, alternately plunges himself into ice baths and nearly scorching saunas several days a week, and can be seen even in mid-February surfing without a wetsuit.

While fighting the natural-born skepticism of those of us born in Los Angeles (we have been scammed more often than most anyone), I took Cameron’s suggestion to try an ice bath, and found that it was not nearly as bad as I expected.

Through that and cold showers, I learned to tolerate extreme temperatures better than I thought I could.

From there, I learned Wim Hof’s breathing method. I then went from being able to hold my breath for about a minute and a half to my personal best of five minutes and five seconds.

Being armed against the cold and with greater lung capacity, I am now better prepared for bigger, colder winter surf.

Hof, who has swum beneath the ice on one breath of air for eight minutes in nothing but shorts and goggles, is not, as many believe, a freak of nature.

He is simply someone who conditioned himself to push the limits of human endurance. As such, he has run a marathon in temperatures of over 100 degrees without any water and climbed in the Himalayas in boots and walking shorts.

Wim began his frigid journey after his wife committed suicide and he was left with four children. Realizing that he could not run away from life, he decided instead to plunge into it.

Cutting a hole in the ice, he lowered himself into freezing water and stayed there as his painful memories left him. From there he studied the breath work of various people who had mastered their respiration.

Proving there is no difference between himself and any other healthy human, Wim Hof has taught his method to thousands, all with the same results. One of his latest disciples is big-wave surfing pioneer Laird Hamilton.

The perfect method for surfers or other ocean-goers who hope to increase their water time and their down time, I suggest you check out Wim Hof’s website:

Let me know how it works out for you.

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