Chop

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Theodore Yach swimming around Cape Point in South Africa
noun - Chop is wave action at the surface of the open bodies of water caused by wind. These small, frequent, irregular wave action is irritating to open water swimmers because they can impede forward movement and can reduce visibility from the surface of the water.

The chop was the reason why he went a bit off-course.

Synonyms

whitewater, surface chop, small waves, turbulence, whitecaps, rough water, roughwater

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