Those of you that have followed the Adventure Beard and I across the last 5+ years have probably noticed that there hasn’t been a lot to follow recently. At the beginning of the year I turned my attentions towards academic pursuits at the cost of my blogging time. After thinking about it for a couple months I’ve decided to wrap up Rob Aquatics for now. I’m not going to stop swimming. I’m not going to exit the ocean swim scene. I’m just not going to be writing for a yet to be determined amount of time. However, if the inspiration strikes I imagine that I have plenty of blogger friends who would humor me by allowing a guest post :)

Although there wasn’t much broadcast here I was very busy throughout “channel season.” I crewed Julian R’s successful San Miguel Island to Santa Rosa Island swim (a first!), Observed Bob N’s Santa Cruz Island attempt, crewed Lynn K’s Anacapa Island Circumnavigation attempt and follow up Santa Cruz Island to Anacapa swim success (another first!), and pace swam JC M’s successful 15+ hour battle with Catalina Island.

Lynn K tries to round Anacapa

post San Miguel to Santa Rosa high five for Julian

This summer also saw a lot of swim adventure planning. I helped plan and put together a Triple Martini swim, a 4th of July Pirates Cove 5k swim, and an Avila Dolphins field trip to visit the Monterey Kelp Crawlers. We even got a new night of swimming on the local schedule with Friday night swim and tailgate time at Lopez Lake. In the middle of all this local activity I got to bring quite a few new swimmers online and get them settled and comfortable in open water, that always makes me happy on the inside!

Fast Brad at Lopez

Making the turn at Pirates Cove

the gang visiting Pacific Grove!

I mixed in some other watersports… I participated in the Harmount Pier to Pier Paddle that runs from Avila Beach down to Pismo, and I also took an intro to rowing class from the SLO Rowing Club up at Lake Santa Margarita.

start line for the Harmount Pier to Pier Paddle

Rowing is fun! Too bad the club is 45 minutes away...

I was fortunate to be able to take part in a couple adventures as a swimmer by acting as an extremely late addition to a Santa Cruz Island relay which covered the 19.9 miles to the mainland in a little more than 12 hours. I also swam all the piers in SLO County (San Simeon, Cayucos, Morro Bay x 2, Avila Beach x 3, and Pismo) with some Laguna Beach Oak Streaker friends.

2 Victorious Santa Cruz Island relays celebrate on the beach in Oxnard

Climbing out of places that no one should swim in Morro Bay

One of the coolest things that came out of this season was the release of the movie Driven which features Marathon Swimming in the Channel Islands. It follows 3 swimmers, Fiona, Cherie, and Evan on their attempts from last year. Since I was on 2 out of 3 of those boats you’ll spot me all over the place in the film! Narcissistic big screen amusements aside, the film does an outstanding job of showing the public what the sport is about and what it is we’re doing out in the ocean in the middle of the night. You can buy a copy here.


If you’ve been a fan of the blog and would like to high five me on the way out, I’m involved with Will Swim for Food again this year which is a mid-December swim around the Santa Cruz Wharf that raises money for Food Banks. Last year Will Swim for Food raised over $50,000 which is an absurdly fantastic amount of money. I’m getting some of my Avila Dolphin friends to join me and hopefully we can contribute a meaningful amount to the fundraising totals this year. $5, $500, whatever you don’t need right now… anything is appreciated! Click here to donate or to learn more about Will Swim for Food click here.

Click to Donate! Please and thank you :)

I really want to sincerely thank everyone who has read Rob Aquatics, left comments, befriended me in real life, invited me to share your swims, loaned me goggles, supported my causes, given me rides, emailed me questions about fins, let me sleep on your couches, shared your stories of how something I wrote helped or encouraged you to try something new, bought zebra striped swimsuits, and came to visit me in Avila for a swim. You guys are the ones that made it worth all the writing and picture editing and traveling. You kept me motivated to keep training and achieve higher and higher goals. When I came back to swimming I had a hard time with 200 yards. I peaked out somewhere around 12+ miles and I still have some substantially longer swims brewing in my head for the future.

being enthusiastic will get you a lot further than being good

Don’t think of this as goodbye so much as a double crossing… I just need to sit on the beach a minute before I swim back to the other side :)

Your friend in salty adventures,

Rob D.

A long time ago the nice people over at Underwater Audio sent me a waterproofed iPod to play with. Unfortunately they hit me while I was deep in scholastic focus which has been pretty bad for my swimming. I’ve been getting to the lake/ocean when I can but there has been almost no pool time for me recently. I managed to swim just a little bit with their gadget but not enough to formulate a solid review. I decided to enlist my housemate Kelly to help me out. She swam with it for a few weeks and put a review together for me to make up for me sucking at going to the pool :) So… here we go! – Rob D.

I have been lap swimming for about eight years now, so when Rob asked me to review the waterproof iPod Shuffle, I was super excited. I have always wondered if music can really help with the monotony of lap swimming and make my workouts more enjoyable.

One of the benefits of the iPod shuffle is that I already owned an iPod so downloading my playlists from iTunes was super easy. I signed in and downloaded all my favorite songs onto the new iPod within minutes. It was fast, easy, and ready to go for my next trip to the pool.

After I downloaded music into my new iPod I tried out some of the ear pieces out of the water. I went with one that I thought fit pretty well. The ear piece was similar to one I use daily when working out or listening to music. As I headed to the pool for my first music swimming experience, I decided on a couple of things. First, I was going to attach the iPod onto my swimsuit instead of the cap as suggested. I wanted to be able to change the songs or change the playlist without having to stop and take it off my cap. So I placed it on my swimsuit neck line. I realize this will probably not work for men wearing Speedos, but for me and most women it is a great option.

I also placed my cap over the headphone earpiece which was also suggested in the instructions. This helped keep the headphones in while swimming. As I took my first laps I realized that my music was too soft so I turned up the volume. While swimming, I also realized my earpiece was coming lose, which could be the headphones or water entering my ears from the swimming motion. As I submerged out of the water, I realize the music was blasting in my ears. The next time I pulled my head out of the water, I paused the ipod first, which seemed to work well. Although, the ipod did not seem to work perfectly, I really enjoyed having music while swimming. It was motivating and kept my mind entertained without losing track of my laps.

I used the same earpiece having the same experience with my second trip to the pool; however, on my third trip I decided to change the earpiece to something a bit smaller. It was then that I realize my first earpiece might be great for outside activities, but a smaller earpiece made all the difference in the pool. Once I put the new earpiece in I realized I did not have to turn the volume up super high. It stayed in my ear and did not move around much. I still covered the earpiece with my cap, but the earpiece stayed snug in my ear. The product worked great, and I love using it for swimming and running as well. Although, I fell in love with lap swimming years ago adding music to my workouts have made it a lot more enjoyable, and I would highly recommend the product to everyone. – Kelly P.

You can buy waterproofed iPods from Underwater Audio here. A waterproofed shuffle with ear buds runs about $165 right now which is a pretty decent price for a good waterproofed music device.

5 out of 6 Triple Martinians... we'll photoshop Duke into that gap between Dave and Niel :)

This weekend I helped put together a Double Triple Martini event that ended up a triple triple… that sounds confusing but it will all make sense shortly! A while back one of our ocean swimmers Casey, who also happens to be an up and coming pro triathlete, declared an interest in swimming the triple martini. He’d never completed a 10k swim before and wanted something new and challenging to shoot for. Once we found a date that worked with his schedule I went straight to my buddy Dave VM to get him hooked in. He’s a veteran of some big swims like Catalina, Tahoe the long way, and he has plans this summer to do a big lake swim in Sweden that I’m very jealous of. He loved the idea of doing a Triple Martini. Dave digs big local swims and has been covetous of the hats Duke, Niel and I have from the completion of our swims. With him on board I started to pull a plan together and pinned down some kayakers and pace swimmers… eventually we had somewhere around 13 or 14 people involved in this swim to include a surprise entrant in Byron who pace swam 2 laps and decided to just do the whole thing!

Dave and Byron headed for Avila Rock

Anyways there’s a whole long story to go with it that I wrote on the SwimAvila website. Usually Niel does the writing on that website and I just add pictures, but since I was uniquely qualified to write about all the swims going on as roving kayaker and psuedo race director he figured it was best I tell the story.

Casey swimming from Poly Pier to Avila Pier

As a bonus Casey wrote a post from his perspective on his site here.

Byron passing Fossil Point en route to the Poly Pier

I’m sure Dave will wax poetic on the topic in the near future and I’ll make sure to update the blog with a link to that when it comes out! In the meantime check out his Siljan Diary site where he’s been writing about the work up to his swim in Sweden.

Update: here’s Dave’s post on the Martini Swim

Dave rounding Avila Rock with his custom painted olive swim cap!

Students gathered around the SwimOutlet banner along the finish line

The Splash and Dash covered a city pool, a mile worth of city streets and big loops though the Hancock College Campus… unfortunately I only got to see a third of the action. The good news is that I’ve had pictures trickling in from a few different places and thought I’d share some bonus shots that show more of the event :)

A smiling Central Coast Crossfit Swimmer!

 

a lot of participants were new to organized swims, luckily we had caps and goggles provided by SwimOutlet.com!

One of the guys from the football team was so new to swimming he didn't know how to swim and water jogged 500 yards in the shallow end!

 

 

running through the residential parts of downtown Santa Maria

 

Marie and Kelly crossing a very appropriately named College Street to get to the college

 

Aquathoners running on campus

apparently spiderman rocked the 5k?

 

nearing the finish!

 

the finish line ran down the front of the gymnasium building and through 2 rows of sponsors and exhibitors, a first for this event!

proof I was there! crunching numbers in a backroom after clearing out the pool

A good portion of my Spring Semester has been filled up with preparing for the Hancock Splash and Dash which is a community fitness event put on by Recreation Management students at Hancock College in Santa Maria. I was a participant in 2012 and that’s actually what turned me onto the major. I had never really known it existed before participating last year. I’m going to finish up an associate degree in it this year and I think I’m going to finally round out a 4 year degree in recreation afterwards.

Coming into the semester some of the main Splash and Dash jobs were already taken by students that had been around in Fall, but I managed to find a way to contribute a lot in the course of the semester. Having done the event before, as well as about 100 other aquatics events in the last 5 years or so, I was full of ideas for improvement. Initially I was set in charge of recruiting but over time that grew to include running the pool on the day of the event as well as some odds and ends like putting together results spreadsheets and posting stuff to facebook.

We had a good mix of older and younger students and most things came together nicely, to combat that the pool at the college decided to die on us. What’s an event without some last minute adversity right? The pool being offline was a big problem because the original idea was to swim and run on campus without crossing any streets and then finishing up with a mini expo area where our sponsors would be hanging out. It was all very compact. With only a week or two left we had to reinvent the Aquathon a few times. Ultimately we moved the swim to Paul Nelson Aquatics Center, where I swim with Santa Maria Masters, and then the swimmers would run back to Hancock for their 5k while we transported their gear back to campus. On top of running two locations about a mile apart we had to provide a bus from the school to the pool and man a run course through the city. It was an interesting challenge for sure!

This year’s Splash and Dash ended up being a really good event. My friends that did it in both 2012 and 2013 thought this year was a lot better than the year before. People liked the Aquathon and the whole transportation/remote location thing went off better than expected. I’d say between participants, spectators, and volunteers we had over 200 people involved. On top of that there was another big event going on on campus at the same time and we got some cross over from that as well. My dad was part of the other event and he saw all kinds of Splash and Dashers running past his building. Beyond being a special event “lab” for college students the Splash and Dash was also a fundraiser for the school’s athletic department. They’re launching a new women’s swim team next year and the $5000+ we raised will go to helping get that off the ground so I’m pretty stoked about that.

hooray for sponsors!

One of the many  jobs attached to Splash and Dash was finding sponsors for the event. We needed to find prizes, goody bag items, and cash to support the event. I want to thank SwimOutlet, Central Coast Crossfit, Finis, Central Coast CEO Roundtables, and the SeaCrest Resort for helping me out!

I enjoyed having the opportunity to experience an event like this from the management side as opposed to the participant side for a change. Helping put on the Hancock Splash and Dash may be the catalyst to a few other events that have been brewing in my head for a while. I can think of a few swim races I’d like to put together that would make for a good senior project :)

Recently I heard an ad on the radio for a Tattoo & Art event at the Santa Maria Fairpark that grabbed my attention because it included a beard competition run by the LA Beard and Mustache Club. I haven’t been able to find my way into another bearding event since I went to the Wiskerino Contest at the Arroyo Grande Harvest Festival in 2011 so I was stoked at the prospect of a new competition nearby. This competition at the Central City Tattoo & Arts Festival was going to have 4 categories: full beard, partial beard, mustache, and freestyle. I decided that I would take a crack at freestyle with the help of my housemates.

A couple nights ago Kelly did a quick test on my beard with a curling iron to see how that would go. It wasn’t bad so we came up with a plan and figured we’d learn as we went on Sunday. When Sunday morning came around we set up a beard styling battle station. Flat iron, curling iron, brushes, combs, wax, hair spray, mousse, and other various lady potions that I won’t pretend to even begin to understand as someone who hasn’t had hair on top of his head for over a decade. After chatting out the strategy a bit Kelly got to work straightening and separating my beard into pieces. She said she was always the one in high school that did hair for prom and homecoming but styling a beard was a lot harder.

Section by section we got the general shape together but not everything was going our way. We borrowed some bonus hair products from our other housemate Shannon and messed with those for a while. We probably played with my beard for at least and hour. Somewhere in the middle of all that I did my mustache myself since I’ve done that plenty of times, and eventually we called it done.

Transporting my carefully coiffed face was a challenge because we were in the midst of an enormous windstorm. We had dust clouds blowing out of the farm fields and across the freeway, it was nuts. Luckily the bulk of the festival’s activities were indoors but we still needed to make it to the convention center building. The wind was relentless and I tried to use my jacket as a wind break. That worked out well enough and my beard only needed a little bit of touch up once we got inside.

Kelly and I did a lap of the building to check out all the cool tattoo stuff. I was stoked when I found the LA Beard Club’s booth and they were stoked to see me since they didn’t have a freestyle bearder signed up yet. While putting my name on the list I thought, I like those odds :) After signing up we had some time to kill so we kept poking around by the booths and chatting up strangers. It sounds like Saturday was a lot busier but the place had a fun vibe.

At 2:00 they rounded up the bearded folks and ran through each category to determine a winner. A fantastically full bearded tattoo artist won full beard, another artist won the mustache category with a great handlebar, an alaskan whaler won the partial beard award, and yours truly walked away with the freestyle award! For what it’s worth it was a very lonely division, but if there had been an overall beard category I think I would have had a shot at being top 3.

After the contest Kelly and I hung out a little bit to chat and take some pictures with people from the beard club. I was very happy to walk out with something to validate the existence of the adventure beard. I figure the next time someone recommends I shave it I can remind them that it is an undefeated championship level beard… it’s rather prestigious to have it around, haha. I’m not sure when I’ll end up in another beard competition but I hope to keep the streak alive and go 3 for 3!

 

A couple months ago I was walking through Pismo Beach and spotted a big poster with information on parks and recreation programs in the city. Since I’ve been studying Recreation Management at college this year it reached out and grabbed my attention… I have radar for this stuff now! In reading through everything I spotted an excursion to Santa Cruz Island for $100 a person that included transportation from City Hall to the island and back. Considering the boat ride there and back runs about $79 anyways this was a really good deal especially since I didn’t have to drive anywhere. I decided that I needed to give this trip a shot since I’ve been up to the islands a lot of times but I’ve never actually set foot upon a Channel Island before!

I’ve been out to the edge of Santa Cruz Island a couple times now and it in particular hasn’t been very kind to me. The first time I went there was the middle of the night on a tiny boat to help my friend Evan break the record for that channel crossing. I threw up so much and so hard on that trip that I think I busted a rib because I hurt for at least a week afterwards! With that in mind I was cautiously optimistic that I would fare much better on a much bigger boat.

On Saturday morning Allison and I got our gear together and headed over to City Hall to catch our ride to the Ventura Harbor. Our driver and trip leader Charles greeted us and got our bags stowed away. I had more stuff with me than most because I was hoping to get wet while I was out there. That required fins, GoPros, goggles, swimsuit, towel, etc. Around 7:30am the last members of our group arrived and we got on the road shortly after that. Once we got to Ventura we checked in with Island Packers and then were turned loose to explore until the boat was ready to go. I think this time was built into the schedule with the idea that you could go eat lunch before we left. I’m not that brave. I made sure to eat breakfast really early so as to have nothing fresh in my stomach upon departure.

There was a lot of wind brewing at the harbor and having been out in the channel before I knew it was going to be ugly out there. I overheard one of the deckhands explain the conditions to one of the people on the boat as “chunky” and I’d say that was the right adjective. It was above lumpy but below burly. Luckily the Island Packers boats are big catamaran type things that are reasonably stable and FAST! We jammed out to the island in an hour. I felt nauseous most of the way out but didn’t puke so I was pretty happy with that. Allison on the other hand was having the best time ever! She was all over the boat checking stuff out while I stayed focused on the horizon.

When we pulled up to Scorpion Anchorage I got up and took in the beauty of the island. It really is gorgeous out there. We pulled up to a concrete and metal pier and climbed up a ladder from the boat to get up to the top of it before walking down to the island itself. Allison and I opted to follow a guided hike for a while to get a feel for the island. Since there were older folks in our group we got extra time with the tour guide to chat and ask questions while slower movers caught up to us. Along the way we spotted a Channel Island Fox as well as some burrowing bees.

Up at the top of Cavern Point the tour concluded and everyone scattered. Allison and I parked it right there and ate our lunches overlooking the ocean. The view was fantastic. A salami sandwich has never seen such a glamorous location :)

After lunch we hiked around some more before descending back down to the beach. I geared up with my fins and a bright pink speedo much to the delight of the non swimmers in the area. The water felt like it was maybe 59-60 degrees. Walking out was a little tricky because of the mix of sand and cobblestones, but once I was deep enough to push off it was smooth sailing. I brough my GoPro 3 with me attached to my Enjoy Handplane. It’s supposed to be for bodysurfing but it’s really good for taking pictures while diving too. I kicked down to about 10-12 feet and cruised through the kelp looking for fish. I found a lot of tiny bait fish schooling around. They didn’t seem to mind me much at all. There were also some larger 12″-15″ fish that I found tucked in the kelp that were pretty cool as well.

After playing for a while I heard engines in the water. It was the last boat to the mainland showing up to get us. I made a couple more dives to the bottom and then swam back to shore to dry off and change back into dry clothes. Within 30 minutes we were jamming back to Ventura and the van from Pismo City had us home before 10pm. It was a long day but we didn’t get as much time as I would have liked on the island. The next time I go it’s going to have to be an overnight trip to fully explore the National Park portion of the island and get more water time in.

It was only a matter of time until we hit a day with water in the 40′s. We don’t get a ton of it, but February to April is prime season for some freezing. Temps had been hovering around 51 on the nearest buoy but we know that you typically have a standard two degree deduction at the beach this time of year. That formula was spot on when I went to go check the temperature with Niel today… 49! Look out! The good news was that the sun was shining and the sky was cloudless. The bad news was that the surf was up and so was the wind. We started with a strong offshore wind that abruptly changed direction about when we started swimming.

When Allison and I drove down to Avila we had a new kayak with us. Allison picked up a rad 12 1/2 foot fishing style kayak that we think will be awesome for swim support. It’s so stable they even put a standing pad in it! She test drove it last weekend before buying it, but today was going to be its first real world try out. As we drove up to the beach we were greeted by the sight of big surf and a whole crew of surfers. That’s odd. We made a command decision that we weren’t going to risk a kayak surf launch in head high waves. Just didn’t seem like a good idea! I took her down to the sport launch down in the port and she paddled over to the main pier from there. Thanks to the wind and some gnarly currents that were ripping today it took her about 40 minutes to fight over to the pier! When I got back to the main beach things had mellowed a little bit with the changing tides but there were still some serious set waves rolling through. Ruta brought her inflatable kayak and wanted to launch from the beach. I was pretty concerned with that idea but amazingly she made it out unscathed. A mix of luck, timing, and inflatable magic.

We had a hearty group of 5 swimmers make their way into the water today. Niel, Duke, Byron, Ed and then myself in all my stupid wetsuitless/capless glory. The water didn’t feel too bad at first, but once I got reproductive organ deep I changed my mind about that. It had some bite to it. I took my time acclimating and Duke hung back with me while the other guys sneaked out before the next set came in. Duke and I were caught inside for a minute, and after the 3rd head high wave we figured that was our moment to move.

On the swim out to where the buoy line would be if we still had buoys (we’re using a lot of phantom navigational targets these days), I felt most of the cold in my jawbone from below my ears through my molars. It was an odd sensation. I was hoping my beard would mitigate such things. Alas, as mighty as it is the beard is only effective to a certain point :) We met up with the kayakers at the phantom buoy line and Allison was sitting sideways in her boat cross-legged shooting the shit with the guys that got there first. She’s very happy with the new boat, she can crawl all over that thing and feel pretty comfortable.

The group swam down towards fossil point and we sent the kayakers ahead to act as the finish buoy. From that corner we swam up to the tip of the pier. That swim was a bit of a struggle. The chop was really kicking and I sucked some water down through my nose. I had to stop and cough that stuff out… I haven’t done that in forever, I felt like an amateur! Haha. I did feel like my swimming has gotten a little too far away from me though. I need my pool to come back online so I can build my speed and endurance back up because I suck right now.

At the tip of the pier we decided to swim back down the length of the pier. I chatted with Allison briefly before she made the turn to go back to the port. When I was done swimming I would be the one to run down there and pick her and the kayak up with the truck. Ruta was planning to land at the beach after her miraculous launch before the swim. She looked to me a bit to gauge when to paddle in. I was a little hesitant to give too much advice because she had the better vantage point in the water since she was sitting much higher up than I was. I saw a few rollers inbound and had her hold steady. When it looked like we were getting a break I let her know and she went for it. Part way in I had her stop for a second to let a wave roll past her and then she paddled the rest of the way in. From what I could see one of the next waves caught her and spun that boat around but thanks to the weird flex of it being inflatable we managed to stay upright and I don’t think she got dunked at all. At this point I turned my attention to getting myself in. As luck would have it a monster set was about to land on me. I swam a little further out to let those guys crash. Once the third big wave passed I started to swim in. I think I found a rip current because I got stuck temporarily. Once I got to water shallow enough to stand the undertow started to pull me right back out. I breaststroked a little and then bodysurfed pieces of waves to get me to waist deep water that I could walk out of.

All told I felt pretty good with the water temp. No shivering or chattering although I was a lovely shade of pink. Duke called me a jumbo shrimp. I would have stayed and baked in the sun for a while afterwards but I had to go pick up Allison from the Port. She was all smiles when she got in. I think this new boat (#3 in the last year) is a winner and the other kayaks we’ve got right now are going to be released back into the Craigslistian wild.

riding horses at Santa Margarita Lake

Things have been quiet around here and I have a fantastically large pile of excuses to choose from for it :) My best one is that my main pool exploded. Some sort of major pump burst and has shut things down for weeks… every time we hit the last best guess as to when we’d open they add another week, it sucks because I don’t belong to any other gyms at the moment. For a while I had access to like 3 or 4 different pools but I cut that back to just the Santa Maria pool. Oh well. I’m thinking about rejoining Pismo Beach Athletic Club so I have a back up pool, plus my girlfriend and housemate both workout there so I’d have company. Beyond facility issues I’ve added 14 units of college classes to my regular work schedule and I’ve been pretty busy getting used to the bonus workload. Thanks to the magic of the GI Bill I’m majoring in Recreation Management at the moment and so far I really dig it. I found out about the program last year when I did the Hancock Splash and Dash with my noon swim workout buddies and this year I’m going to be part of the group running it! Speaking of… the 2013 Hancock Splash and Dash is on April 27th and consists of your choice of either an Aquathon (500 yard swim & 5k run), a 5k run, or just a 500 yard swim. It’s a fundraiser for Hancock Athletics and run by the Recreation Management students. You can sign up on Active.com, it’s $25 to participate or FREE if you’re a student. If you would have an interest in sponsoring an event like that hit me up directly at rob@robaquatics.com, we’re actively seeking sponsors right now… just sayin’ :)

 

So without my usual pool fix I’ve been off doing other things and that’s probably a good thing. I’ve done some things that are pretty normal for me like limited ocean and lake swimming, lots of bodysurfing, some kayaking, and a little bodyboarding. My Recreation classes have encouraged me to go looking for other activities that I don’t usually do to broaden my recreational horizons a bit. I’ve gone horseback riding, became a roller derby fan, toured a mission, reacquainted myself with rollerskating after a 20 year break, visited a historic light house in Piedras Blancas, hung out with elephant seals, and just today I started a no-grade class through the college on beekeeping which is odd because I’m terrified of bees.

bodysurfing Avila Beach (with the flu! I couldn't stay inside anymore!)

Piedras Blancas Lightstation... worth a visit, bring good binoculars

elephant seals scare me more than sharks I think

 

bodyboarding Pismo

 

I got to ring the bells at La Purisima Mission

 

Roller Derby! I'm hooked... I want to find a men's league to play with

test driving kayaks with Andreas... the red one came home with us :)

 

swimming w/ Lynn K at East Beach in Santa Barbara for an SBCSA board meeting

being chased on skates by my housemate Kelly

I've been spending a lot of time playing with my GoPro 3 as well... I've shot some fun stuff :)

I wish I were swimming more right now, but a break probably isn’t all bad. The good news is my cold water tolerance is pretty awesome right now thanks to time spent surfing, I just really need to beef up my swim training soon… don’t want to get too out of swim shape! As the pool comes back online and workouts and races start coming into season I should have more aquatic goodness to share. In the meantime I high suggest liking Rob Aquatics on Facebook, I post pictures and links there pretty regularly.

On New Year’s Day a small group of ocean swimmers embarked on a secret mission to an undisclosed location. Their mission – to “accidentally” fall off the pier and swim back to the beach while having a ridiculously fun time doing so. Pretty serious stuff if you ask me. To ensure the success of our mission I brought in a couple ringers from out of town, Evan and Cathy, to assist in the execution. To prepare for the fall we all drank entirely too much the night before at one of the finer adult beverage establishments in the village of Arroyo Grande. In the morning my housemate filled my hungover crew with courage (and heart disease) inducing bacon to power us through the day.

this is higher than I thought...

...I'm not sure this was the best idea ever...

We arrived to a beautiful day at the beach after a drive that involved a little bit of light rain on the freeway. Joining us were Niel, Dale, Ed and Sylvia. We geared up and then walked down the pier to a section where the railing is half the height of the rest of the pier making it easier to step onto and over. En route we were asked by a lot of people if we were planning to jump off the pier. The stock answer was “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I wonder what it was about a group of 7 people in swimsuits and wetsuits walking to the end of a pier that would make people think that? Despite our attempts to stay under the radar we ended up with around 40 spectators, whoops.

Niel setting the standard

Now that we were in place it was go time. There was no defined order, swimmers took to the rail in whatever order they pleased. Niel started off to show the rest of us how it’s done. Dale and Ed followed soon after. Despite Dale being the thinnest swimmer in the group she made a pretty impressive splash! It was fun to watch Ed go from super nervous/concerned on the beach when we surprised him with the plan for our swim to super stoked on the whole jumping process. With Ed’s jump all the wetsuited swimmers were now in the ocean… it was time for the skin swimmers to hop in.

Dale dropping!

Ed is away!

No one was really taking the lead so Sylvia clambered over the rail. It’s worth mentioning Sylvia is 75 and a total bad ass. She had a quick “what am I thinking?” conversation with herself, did a mini countdown and then plunged 20+ feet into the 53 degree water below. She lost her goggles in the process but was a champ about it, she was just happy it was the ocean that took them instead of the pool. From this point there’s no turning back for the rest of us young folks in our 30′s after watching a septuagenarian do what was making me a little nervous all morning.

Sylvia taking a moment to collect herself before leaping

Cathy went next and stood on a higher piece of railing and launched herself. She won for the most photogenic leaper of the day.

If Cathy had a helmet and a spear I would swear this is a shot from the movie 300

I decided I wanted to go next and got myself over the rail and onto the outside edge of the pier. Now is a good time to mention that I have a healthy fear of falling off of things. When I was a kid I was terrified of water and the concept of walking on a pier with big gaps in the planks would paralyze me with little kid fear. Now here I am jumping off a pier on purpose… into the ocean? My how things have changed :) I took my time a bit, collected my thoughts, smiled nervously at a few people and then tossed myself into the sea. Everything from there is a blur, it went roughly like this… fall, fall, fall, splash, float up and smile victoriously.

wait... why the hell would I jump off a pier!?!

oh yeah, because it's dumb and fun :) - photo by Ruta

From the water I got to watch Evan take his turn and for the first time I realized how many people had gathered to observe our swim. I also realized just how tall the pier is… I swim next to it all the time but I’m never really thinking too hard about how much pier there is since the only things that concerns me are the pilings at water level since those don’t feel so good on bare skin. Evan took his time a bit, gave us a smile and a quick bicep flex for effect and down he went. All seven swimmers jumped and everybody survived, alright!

Evan half in half out

Now all that stood to be conquered was a 400m swim back to the beach with some healthy waves at the finish. I swam butterfly with Cathy for a bit and then broke off to take pictures and swim sweep in the back of the group to make sure everyone got in ok. Back on the beach we hung out and had a little potluck meal while enjoying the sunshine. As far as Tuesdays go that was a pretty good one :)

and now we swim home!