Surfers learn to stay calm (and hold their breath) when taking on monster waves

Pushing the Limits: Breathing techniques to help big wave surfers survive

WAIMEA BAY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Practice makes perfect.

That’s true for just about everything, including when it comes to practicing for the conditions you’ll encounter when you paddle out into the biggest surfing waves in the world.

On Oahu’s North Shore ― and at big-wave beaches around the globe ― surfers are paddling into life-threatening conditions.

How they handle the challenges that are thrown their way are key.

That’s why North Shore big-wave surfer and certified dive master Ricardo Taveira has designed a course to help prepare surfers for the beatings.

Taveira training course for big-wave surf survival is based on his own experiences at Waimea Bay.

“The idea was to train myself and all my friends that surf Waimea Bay because it is a big wave spot and you can get hold down for a long time,” he said. “So the idea was to become more comfortable.”

His two-day course starts with a classroom session.

Attendees go over the curriculum together, with a focus on breathing technique using the diaphragm to fill up the lungs for maximum capacity.

At the start of the course, people can typically hold their breath for about 40 seconds.

“The course is not difficult. It’s just challenging,” Taveira said. “A lot of people think I can’t hold my breathe for three, four, five minutes, but everybody can.”

Taveira also stresses relaxation, focus ― and not panicking.

“Using your breathing pattern you can control your fear, somewhat stabilize your fear so it doesn’t develop into panic,” he said. “Work with panic because panic is what kills people.”

After the course is done, participants can hold their breath for much longer. Some held their breath for up to give minutes.

“Pushing the Limits” is an ongoing series that explores how surfers are taking on bigger and bigger waves while still living to tell the story.

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