Getting Past the “Death Zone”

 “Death Zone”
1. A non-existent word, created by Chloe, referring to the point in the ocean where the waves break (possibly over surfer’s heads)
2. Not an actual word
Photo Credits – Mom

This weekend, we were lucky enough to have a long weekend with a Poya day Friday (which means that we get school off on Friday). Thankfully, my family decided to take advantage of this short break and head to the beach for the weekend. My mom, dad, my two brothers and I took the 2-hour drive down to Hikkaduwa beach on Thursday afternoon, along with the Turners, who are our close family friends. We stayed in a lovely little beach villa, and it was very cozy. After we settled in, we took advantage to go surfing on Friday and Saturday. I was really looking forwards to surfing, as our family has been going more and more recently, and I think I am really improving (and am starting to stand up on more of the waves than usual). When it is really rough, I also like the challenge of getting past the wave breaks to the clear part of the ocean (although it is very tiring).


Photo Credits – Mom

As soon as we had the opportunity, we got out on the beach and began looking for boards to rent to surf. We could not find any boards on the immediate beach, but we met a lovely man who took us to his home area to rent us some nice boards (since it is not suffering season over here, and since it is COVID season, they had not been used in a while). Us kids, Sam, Ethan, Stephie, Isaac and I all trooped down the road and through the alley to the beach. Thankfully, we had already put on our swimsuits and sunscreen, so we could get right in. The man that rented our boards to us pointed out the best spot to surf, and we headed out there with excitement.


Photo Credits – Mom

The waves were pretty rough and since we were surfing on a point, there were many different sets of waves coming towards us all in different directions at the same time. This made it really difficult to get out, as every time we moved forwards a little bit, a new wave would come and push us back. However, after lots of persistence and slow progress forward, I finally made it past the “death zone” (which is what we call the place where the waves crash right over your head). This was the largest struggle for me, as I am still working on building my stamina and making sure that I have enough muscular endurance to keep going. Since we are out of the practice of regular after-school sports (due to COVID causing school closure), I really struggled to get out and to maintain enough stamina to paddle. I think that to get better at surfing, I need to focus more on my arm strength (as I have lots of leg strength from playing football, but my arms are a weak point for me). My arm strength is a definite area of growth for me, and to make the original process of getting out past the waves easier, if I work on my arm strength and stamina, it would be much easier for me. However, I di have lots of commitment and perseverance to get out there, and eventually (after quite a while of trying), I made it past the death zone. Theoretically, after that, it should be all smooth sailing, but that didn’t actually happen.

Despite my many years of surfing (around 7 years on and off), I found it incredibly difficult to get up on the board. The waves were very choppy, and we were surfing over a reef, which made possibly wipeouts much more dangerous. However, I did try my best and after many failed attempts at standing up and slight wipeouts, I managed to stand up for a couple of waves. I think I need to work on standing up in one go (and not one foot at a time), as it is a bad-surfing habit that I am developing. I also would like to try and push my weight more on one of my feet to start surfing sideways, to try to build up my surfing skills and to make it more challenging for myself. Surfing on choppier waves than usual was a challenge as an extension of my self-challenge (trying to become a better surfer in general). Although I did not write about surfing in my CAS goals (as I don’t surf often enough to consistently practice), I would love to get better and improve my (currently limited) surfing skills. 

Through this mini-surfing expedition, I have decided that I would like to try to learn (possibly get Ethan to teach me), how to surf sideways better and to get better at paddling out.

Here is a video of one of my surfing attempts (this was on the first day when my surfing was much more limited and less skilled than how I surfed on the second day).

Learning Outcomes:

LO1 Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth Students are able to see themselves as individuals with various abilities and skills, of which some are more developed than others.

LO2 Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process A new challenge may be an unfamiliar experience or an extension of an existing one. The newly acquired or developed skills may be shown through experiences that the student has not previously undertaken or through increased expertise in an established area.

LO4 Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences Students demonstrate regular involvement and active engagement in CAS.

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