**Results are now posted here
I left the house at 6:30 in the morning and drove up to Santa Cruz for the 1 mile Roughwater swim put on by the Santa Cruz Masters. They did an excellent job and TONS of people came out for the swim. When I got there the line for race day registrations streamed from the beach all the way up onto the sidewalk! The meet director said there was something like 400 swimmers signed up today!!! So many more people than planned showed up that they even ran out of t-shirts. Luckily I preregistered and got to skip the line.
After getting marked up and finding a spot on the beach to drop my stuff I started contemplating a warm up swim… and by warm up I really mean getting over the shock of how cold the water was going to be. I got my B70 nero comp on and zipped up and decided to just get things over with and hop in. It was 59 degrees! Brrrr…. It took me a while to get sort of used to how cold the water was, but eventually I could deal with it. I’m glad I didn’t have my other B70 (Reaction wetsuit) with me, I would have been pretty tempted to go get it! Since so many race day entries were signing up the race start got delayed, I ended up doing a second swim just to stay used to being cold.
Eventually we got our safety briefing and then walked under the pier to where the race was set to start. The people on the beach were completely confused by what was going on, Heidi said she heard one person wondering if it was part of a movie! It must have been pretty surreal to have an impromptu parade of swimmers stream out from under the pier. We had a few minutes before the start so I dunked myself one last time. I didn’t want to hit the water and have the wind knocked out of me by all the frostiness of the water. A few minutes later the siren went off and me along with the rest of the 1st wave rushed into the water and got to work. I felt pretty good in the water and like I usually do in open water I just tried to swim my own race. I got bumped into once or twice in the first 2-300 meters, but after that I was basically left alone to just swim. The cold water turned to more of a burning sensation once I got 2/3 of the way down the pier, and once I swam around the top of it I was numb to the whole thing.
On the way back I just tried to stay even and steady. I didn’t want to burn myself out in the middle of really cold water a half mile from land. The water was definitely moving but waves weren’t breaking. Luckily this wasn’t scheduled for last week when we had epic 10 foot surf all up and down the California coast! Half way down the pier I started to see the big yellow finish chute when I was on top of small swells. I dug down and tried to pick up my pace a little bit and swim as straight as I could toward the finish. Eventually the water got too shallow to swim and I stood up and ran the rest of the way in. I crossed the line at 22:20 which is a decent 1 mile time for me. I think the first guy across was in the 17′s. I was something like 9th out of 13 or 14 guys in my age group and 80ish out of 400ish overall.
I was stoked to do this swim and I’m glad I made the drive up. It’s definitely good practice for the Naples Island Swim in 2 weeks down in Long Beach and has me thinking about what other open water swims I can make my way to this year. There’s something about open water that is just different… it’s the real intense connection to nature I think. The water, the swells, the tides, the animals you’re sharing it all with (there were seal lions and a dolphin sighting during the swim!) make it just a really cool experience every time you go do it. Anyways, A+ for the Santa Cruz Roughwater and Santa Cruz Masters and Life Guards for putting it together!
Here are some of the pictures from today, I have more on Facebook if you want to check them out!
Getting marked up
Getting my cap on to go test the water
“So uh… this is really frickin’ cold huh?”
Contemplating just crashing a hotel hot tub instead
Awesome crowd! Upwards of 400 swimmers!
Walking to the other side of the pier for the start
Wave 1 is in the water!
There was a ton of support staff in the water
Swimming back towards the finish
Our first finisher
Me coming out of the water