It is easy to have chafing from the wet suit around the arms and also for the fins to chafe. Get thin booties without soles for fin use and consider using some vaseline or aquaphor ointment for other chafe points.
If you swim regularly in cold water, your body will undergo some adaptive changes. This will increase your tolerance to some extent. You will also begin to actually crave fatty foods, an instinctual tendency of cold water swimmers to want extra body fat to protect them! This is a natural adaptation, but this may be undesirable for your running and overall fitness.
Surf training is great for honing your aquatic skills and for developing confidence in big water. For body-surfing, use a medium fin, like short surfing fins, that permits quick acceleration but is small enough not to get caught in moving parts of the wave. Use velcro-elastic "keepers" for your fins unless you are sponsored by a fin manufacturer!
Keep your head down and always surf with an arm extended up over your head.
It is far better if you get folded by a big chopping wave to have your shoulder dislocated than for you to become quadriplegic from a cervical spine injury. Avoid shorebreaks; the waves are unpredictable and going over the falls may yield a screaming descent straight onto the beach sancl. Instead try to find a good "grab and release" break where the wave stands up nicely and then breaks back into deeper water.
Another open water issue you may be faced with is that of sharks. They commonly attack solitary swimmers, particularly freestylers: the solitary, beefy organism making arm slaps against the surface of the water. Avoid swimming in places where you may resemble part of the food chain, but even then there appears to be protection in numbers. A good example is La Jolla Cove near San Diego. Here triathletes swim and Great White sharks eat small mammals all in the same day. Avoid swimming in the evening and get out of the ocean if you get bloodied too much in the surf.
Sharks virtually never attack swimmers in groups.
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