Trapped underwater with a big-wave surfer
“You’re being pulled in all different directions,” Greg Long says, describing what it feels like to be trapped under a 25-foot wave. “You’re no longer in control of the situation, but you’re in control of your oxygen. And if you’re panicking, you’re going to feel like you’re struggling for your life.”
Long, one of the best big-wave surfers in the world, trains constantly for being beaten down by the ocean. He bikes uphill to expand his lung capacity and spends hours in the pool, holding his breath for up to five minutes. But he says his mental training, which is rooted in yoga, is what saved his life in 2012, when he was held underwater by a set of four giant waves at Cortes Bank, off the coast of San Diego.
“Other people tell me they think about recipes or they picture their favorite surf spot, but I’m of the mind-set that even thoughts take energy,” Long says. “I like to tune everything out while trying to keep my bearings on what is up and down. You know when the tumultuous energy starts to subside. Then, you can reorient and start swimming against the current.”