**UPDATE 6JUL09: If you’re looking for info for the 2009 Naples Island Swim you can get it at NaplesIslandSwim.com or follow my coverage here.

What a cool weekend! I spent Saturday and Sunday down in Long Beach for the Naples Island Swim. We stayed aboard the Queen Mary which was pretty cool, we checked out the Aquarium of the Pacific and I hit both of my goals for this swim (finish & beat someone) in style.

The Long Beach Grunions Masters team did such a great job with this event. It had such a great vibe and everyone was super positive. It was smiles and high fives from all of their volunteers that were running the event.

I got there around 7:30 and paced the beach and did my best to figure out the route from the land. Since the water was a balmy 66 degrees I hopped in about 20 minutes before the start to get over the fact that it was going to be freezing compared to my overheated pool at the gym. After warming up my muscles and freezing my balls off I was ready to go. Everything got started right at 9:00 and there was a ton of people there for the 1 Mile Classic that actually happens to be 1.25 miles.

There was a lot of firsts for me in this race. This was my first Masters Swimming event. It was my first race in 10 years (holy crap!). And it was my first open water swim. Starting from the beach and fighting for my position with a bunch of thrashing arms and legs was definitely new for me. As we made our way to Naples Island and the canal the group started separating into waves of how fast you swam. I actually swam most of the canal by myself (as far as I could tell) because I wasn’t quite with the super hardcore group but I wasn’t back with the next cluster of swimmers either. It was kind of nice in a weird way. There were people chilling on their decks watching us swim and the bridges had a few people cheering us on. It was really the coolest swimming event I’ve ever done. I’m pretty sure I saw a statue of Captain Hook too… or the mouthful of canal water that I accidentally swallowed was mildly hallucinogenic.

Once I came out of the Canal and scooted around the corner of one of the other islands it was a straight shot to the beach. I turned up the heat a little and jammed past the only guy in my vicinity under the pretense that just in case I was in last it was best I beat him to the beach. Once I hit the beach I ran up to the finish line, got my time, promptly forgot it, and much to my delight… I was in Second place for 25-29! I got a suave little silver medal for my efforts, very cool. Time wise I think it took me about 40 min I had a watch on and totally forgot to read it because I was so stoked to be finished. I heard the first wave hit at about 30 minutes but I don’t know for sure, I’ll find out for sure once they post results on the web site. (update** results were posted and I swam 40:48 and was 38th out of 71 overall. First place was at 29:34 and last place came in at 1:11:33)

Open water isn’t particularly my thing but I’ve already decided to try and do this again next year. Long Beach was really nice, the host club were awesome hosts and the course is really cool. This was just what I needed to keep me motivated to make my way to go to the pool 4 nights a week. I can’t wait to get in the water for another swim meet. The next one I have planned is in November in San Luis Obispo but I might try and find one in the interim just for fun!

By the way I did learn one lesson the hard way… if you’re going to do a long distance swim in salt water, lube your armpits… seriously. Who knew. It’s been about 10 hours since I got out of the ocean and my armpits are still raw and on fire.

The race course


Me at the beach before the Race


Testing the water, verdict outstandingly cold


Taking off from the beach, can you tell I practice indoors at night?


It’s like LA traffic with more hitting


Moving towards the edge of the Island


One of the volunteer kayakers that kept us on course


Swimming back to shore


Crossing the finish line


Just for fun… covered in ravenous lorikeets

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