this happened to me... some fcktard dropped in on me and I had to exit over the top of the wave... the wave sucked my board and the leash snapped... I was in the impact zone. I took a couple on the head but remained calm and let the waves push me in (head over heels for part of it) then pretty much just calmly but deliberately did a back float/doggy paddle in. I figured it would be too draining to try and freestyle swim back into shore.
you shouldn't be out if you are afraid of drowning.... Hmmm I can probably safely say, that ever person on this forum is afraid of drowning. We have all been caught inside on a big day. You did the right thing by asking to keep an eye on you. Some good points here, the better you know the ocean, the more comfortable you will be in hairy situations, meaning, less panic. Swimming in the pool will help, but you need to get comfortable with moving water. Don't give up
My 1st board, in 78, was a 5'2" twin fin by Don Smith of Hawaii. I'm 6'5" 215 to 225 depending. I took a hot awl and put a hole thru the tail and tied a bungie cord to it and around my ankle. My first wet suit was a navy deep water suit with hot water ports. Used several socks and news paper bags for my feet and platex dish washing gloves for my hands. I'd have to make it in boardless under adverse condition the first few years of surfing.
I surf with a real tail wadd for a few years. I quit hanging with him when he paddled by my board I just lost. told me it wasn't his job to retrieve it. I figgered might as well surf alone.