I got home last night from North Carolina and first thing this morning I was back in the truck on my way to the beach to go swim at Avila Beach. I left earlier than usual because I knew the parking situation was going to be pretty out of hand. Plus I had to make a stop at the grocery store for some food. On holidays that we swim on we do a little pot luck lunch on the beach so I picked up some chips, salsa and brownies. The drive out was really foggy and Avila was fogged in as well. You could tell that it was going to burn off and leave us with a beautiful day though.

before the fog burned off

I went down to the ocean early and checked out the water to see how cold it felt. Apparently my cold water tolerance is broken! The water was 55, which is pretty warm compared to what we’ve seen recently but 22 degrees colder than the Lake in North Carolina on Saturday! My feet were burning up from the cold. Not good seeing as I’m planning on swimming the San Francisco Bay in a few days without a wet suit. My plan right now was to wear a wet suit today, try to get in the ocean even if I don’t swim on Tuesday night without a suit to re-acclimate, swim suit-less on Wednesday night, and try to get in the Bay on Friday when I get into town. We’ll see how that goes, worst case scenario I end up wrapped in rubber and get scored in a different division for next Saturday’s race.

feet in the water :0

getting ready on the beach

We had a pretty decent crowd out there today. I think we got in with 7 and finished with 8 (Don got in late and caught up to us at the end of the pier). Our original plan was to swim the south end of the buoy line, return to the pier, swim around the top of the pier and down to the first buoy on the north side of the pier, and then circle the whole north end of the buoy line. We ended up deviating from that plan a little bit because there were so many fisherman on the pier. Once we got to the top of the pier we decided to swim straight to the far buoy instead of down the pier to avoid fish hooks. There was a pretty healthy swell building as we got further into our swim. For whatever reason there wasn’t any surf to speak of at the beach but plenty of action beyond the buoy line. All told we probably did around 1 1/2 miles.

Pete getting in

Don after catching up with us

me floating around

At the end of our swim I really didn’t want to get out, but it didn’t sound like anyone was up for some bonus mileage. I even thought about taking off the wet suit and getting back in just to get back into the swing of being cold but instead made my way to where we were sitting to get some food. By now the beach was packed with people and Avila was completely overrun with tourists. After hanging out for about 45 minutes I packed up and went home. Hopefully I can find a few excuses and partners to hit the ocean with me during the week.

the beach is filling up...

Results are posted here

I'm not even sure how I took that picture :)

This morning I made my way off to Lake Norman in North Carolina for the USMS 1 Mile Open Water Championships. I entered the address for the swim into the gps and made my way into the forest. After 15 minutes of driving into the forest I made a left turn deeper into the forest… not that I live in the city or anything, but that was a lot of trees! It’s pretty out here in North Carolina but I’m not sure I could deal with the heat and humidity on a regular basis.

before the race...

Once I got to the lake I stood in line for a while checking in. There were a lot of folks already there waiting and I saw some of the people I swam with yesterday at SwimMAC. I also saw Chris from the USA Swimming Foundation and talked to him a little bit. He went on to win his age group today in the 1 mile!

Once I was checked in I sorted my stuff out and made my way into the lake. The water was nice and tropical… 77 degrees! I’m in for such a shock on Monday when I go back to swimming in the Pacific! I swam out just a little ways, more just to be wet and get used to the water than anything else. Even though I didn’t need to worry about the temperature it’s always weird to go from salt water to fresh water. You float differently and need to adjust fire accordingly.

out warming up

After floating around for a bit I got out to put on my B70 and go listen to the race briefing. We were going straight out to the other side of the lake, hanging a right to a far away buoy down the shore and then a right turn back diagonally towards the start.

start of wave one

The Masters’ race was broken into waves of 20 people. You had to give a 1650 time when you entered so that they could seed you by speed. I guessed too fast apparently. Off the start I was doing ok but the main pack started pulling away from me after the first turn. I felt a little sluggish, probably from all the travel and the excitement of SCY Nationals last weekend, but my pace felt really steady even if it wasn’t super quick. On the third leg a couple people from the heat behind me caught and passed me. Whoops. Anyways, I swam as close up to the the beach as I could at the finish to avoid walking over the rocks and mussel shells in the soft sand out there.

I didn’t catch my time, but I remember it being like 3 minutes slower than it probably should have been. Regardless I had a ton of fun and it was a great lake for swimming. I wish I had easy access to a lake like this for days I can’t trick anyone into the ocean with me. After the swim we did awards and I managed to get 6th place in my age group and walk away with a medal. After the mile I got a chance to meet a bunch of new people and make some new friends. Some people had seen me online either through the blog or at nationals.  A good number of them will be out at other swims that I’m going to be at and I look forward to seeing everybody again!

everybody gathered up for the handing out of awards

Once the USMS race was out of the way there were 3 more races going on and the people running the event opened them up to those of us that swam the 1 miler. You could do a 800m swim, another mile, or a 2 mile. I decided to take advantage of this and do a quick 800m swim as a warm down and a chance to take some pictures. This event started with an all out melee style start instead of the 20 at a time approach we had for the championship. I let the bulk of the other swimmers get out before I made my way down the chute. I swam out and weaved in and out through slower swimmers until I was about half way down the line. I pulled out my camera and messed around there for a while and just made sure to stay out of the way of anybody coming my direction. I made a similar stop at the turn buoy as well. Once I was done playing photographer I swam it back in. I tried to stretch it out and just focus on my stroke.

swimming out on the 800m

rounding the buoy

After the swim I talked to a few people and then made my way back out of the forest. I cleaned up at the hotel and a little later on I met my North Carolina swimmer friend Cindy for lunch. She wasn’t in the swim, but just happened to be on the way through Charlotte today and stopped off to hang out for a bit. I think the rest of my evening is going to be pretty mellow. Going to try and get ahead on some rest now for the coming weeks. I hop a plane (well planes) home tomorrow and should be back in the ocean on Monday with my friends in Avila.

on to the next swim!

Me and Coach Patty on deck

I got into Charlotte around 11:30 this morning and I was pretty tired from flying all night. My plan was to get out to swim with SwimMAC Masters to wake myself up and get all that travel out of my system. En route I made a detour to a Target to buy a towel and some Gatorade. I forgot to pack a towel (again – on Friday in ATL I had to borrow one from my friend Cindy to get me through the day!), and I know I need to drink all day to make sure I don’t get dehydrated tomorrow.

MAC Pool at Latin School

the pool from the inside

Once I got into the pool I found Coach Patty and as it turned out she had Masters swimmers in the water right then. I thought that I was just going to sneak in some lap swim, but since they were mid workout I hopped in and split a lane with one of her guys that’s swimming the 1 miler tomorrow at Lake Norman. I swam maybe 800 yards with the team and then continued on for a while solo to get to around 1500 total. Not an earth shattering amount of yardage, but enough to loosen myself up for tomorrow. After my swim I found my way to the hotel and I’ve been bumming around here. The weather is pretty gnarly at the moment but according to weather reports online it shouldn’t be storming in the morning when I’m trying to race. A big thank you to Coach Patty and the SwimMAC Masters for letting me share their pool for a little bit and making me feel so welcome! I’m looking forward to seeing them all again tomorrow at Lake Norman and getting in my first stop on theRob Aquatics Open Water Tour!

Today was round two of the “Summer of Fly” showdown between me and my workout buddy Mike. We hung out a little bit Wednesday night to trash talk each other and try to covertly figure out how fast the other one was feeling this week. I knew Mike meant business today when he was actually stretching and stuff before we got in the water. The fun part about today was this wasn’t a spontaneous thing like the 50 fly 2 weeks ago… everybody knew what was up today and there was a little excitement in the pool.

We started with a stock warm up and did about 600 additional yards to get ready. Once we were done with all that I gave Dani my camera so she could take on the official cinematographical duties for this very important, possibly historic, motivatory event.


Me and Mike got up on the deck and had about a minute to get ready. Christy started us and we were off. I had a pretty good underwater start and surfaced about even with Mike after he had taken about 3 strokes. He was a little bit ahead at the first turn but I made it up on the second length. We touched essentially even on the second turn and started moving for the finish. Just like last time we were right on top of each other the whole way. Christy rushed down to the far end of the pool to watch the finish so we would know who won. And again Mike got me by a touch… maybe 3/10s of a second tops! Argh! Oh well… I’ve got the 100, 125, 150, 175, and 200 to make up for it :)


turn at the 50

After our race he had to bounce because he’s coaching some kids at a meet down in Irvine. The rest of us sorta kinda kept working out for a bit, but I probably did more talking than swimming. I’m still feeling Nationals and all that travel so it probably isn’t a bad thing that I took it a little easy today.

200 swim
200 kick
200 pull

8 x 50 drill/swim @ 1:00
8 x 25 variable speed @ :45

75 fly showdown!
25 easy

5 x 100 @ 1:30

1800 yards total

Tonight I’m making my way back to the east coast. I’m flying to SFO then Dallas and finally landing in Charlotte tomorrow before lunch. The hope is to get there early enough to go swim real quick where SwimMAC works out and then see what happens from there.

I made my valiant return to the ocean today after a week away spent in pools and airplanes and other places too far inland to be salty. It was kind of cold and overcast all day so I was expecting some cold water. Niel measured about 56 and honestly I don’t believe it at all. It felt way too cold for that and the ocean buoy was barely at 51 degrees after a weekend that had dips into the high 40′s. So regardless of what the real temperature was I decided to wear a wetsuit.

making our way to the water

making my way in

We had a pretty good crowd today, about 8 swimmers. We keep seeing new faces which is awesome, and lots of returnees. I’m stoked to see what kind of numbers we finish the summer with!

Anyways, today’s swim was just a down and back shot of the buoy line good for about a mile. It was a very stop and go kind of swim while we did the first half of the buoy line. We had a first time in the ocean swimmer and I tried to hang back best I could to make sure she was doing ok. Once we got back to the pier we lost a couple swimmers that turned back in. The rest of us swam under the pier and down the next two buoys. 2 more got out, and we finished the buoy line with 4 guys. We swam it back to the pier and came in on the northside of it. Before coming in I worked with one of the guys a little bit on his stroke. While he was swimming past me I saw a little wasted effort in there that we need to try and squeeze out. Hopefully we can help him get a little faster with the same amount of work!

representing in my CVMM cap :)

regrouping at a buoy

After the swim I hung out in Avila with Niel and then drove home towards Arroyo Grande. I dropped in a wine bar in the village to say hi to my buddy/occasional swim nemesis Mike for a bit before grabbing a burrito to take home with me for dinner. Me and Mike are up for round 2 of our Fly showdown tomorrow… 75 yards this time. I’m hoping I can take this round and even it up. And once I finish with the blog it’s time to repack my bags because tomorrow after work I split for Charlotte to swim the USMS 1 Mile Open Water Championships!

If you want more pictures check out the Swim Avila Facebook page or our blog!

As everyone gets home from Atlanta more and more pictures and videos start popping up from the meet which is good because I was a little delinquent in my picture taking this weekend. Here’s a few pictures and videos I grabbed from my friends :)

Me and Jinxi… she wrote a great write up on her blog over here

Me and David, he joined CVMM and USMS to just swim with us this weekend! Check out that RobAquatics swimsuit he’s rocking in there! The first one was taken by Becky, the second one is lifted from David’s twitter stream.

Saturday’s wrap up from USMS. Me and the CVMM Mixed 200 Medley Relay make and appearance about a minute and a half in. There’s also a short clip of me starting the 100 free in the last 10 seconds of the video.

My 50 Free filmed by my friend Becky… listen for the “ohhh he missed the wall!” because I totally did!

Today was the last day of Nationals and it was really such a good time! I’m really glad I had a chance to come out and see everyone from all over country and spend some quality time with my CVMM teammates. Even though it was day 4 and lots of people needed to fly back home the pool was still packed all the way up until the 50 freestyle… best I can tell at least every other person on the Georgia Tech Campus and in Midtown was a swimmer.

My first event of the day was the 100 IM and I think everyone on my team swam it. I was the only guy left from CVMM, so I watched all of our women lay down some fast times in the 100IM. They gave me a whole lot to live up to. While I was getting ready behind the blocks I met a few of the dudes in my heat and one recognized me from the internet which was kind of fun. Off the start I really worked the underwater portion and I could see the shadows of the guys on either side of me stoking on the surface. Once I counted 3 of their strokes I came up and made my way to the wall. Since my backstroke is kind of weak I stayed underwater as long as I could to avoid swimming it. When I came up I think I did a little better than usual since I had a ceiling to navigate by… I think a lot of people are better backstrokers indoors. My turn was a little odd because the pool has these big flat FINA walls with no gutter to grab like in a regular pool. My breaststroke felt pretty good and I went full on straight arm freestyle-style on the way home. Since I was in the far away pool I couldn’t tell what my time was at the finish. A group of my teammates were at the top of the ladder when I got out of the pool and let me know I swam a 1:02! It’s about a second drop my previous best time from Cal Tech back in March. I’d like to take full credit for the swim, but before my race I was talking with Bob Strand and he pointed out a series of dots on the ceiling above my lane and he said I owe him a second of my time for pointing it out. So Bob, there you go… my 1 second drop is all on you :) I’m getting closer to breaking a minute in this race… I really want to get that done!
After this race pretty much all the pressure was off. I only had a 50 free left to swim. I went down to the VIP area to try and grab something to eat. It didn’t go so well. I was late for lunch and they only had a few sandwiches left. I was in line to grab the very last one but I let the lady behind me who had just swam the 200 fly take it. My lunch consisted of pickles, a coke, and a bag of chips… fancy huh :) I supplemented that later with a gu packet.
My last race was the 50 free. Seeing as I had Olympians in my age group it’s fair to say I wasn’t particularly relevant in this one. I just like to swim it. I had to wait till the 47th heat to get in the water. I had a pretty good start and was really moving towards the wall. At the flip I had that awful “hey where’s the wall” sensation. I just barely brushed it with my toes and really had to kick hard to salvage it. I tried to burn off everything I had left in the final 25 since my meet was done when I hit the wall. I managed to pull off a 25.4 which is right on top of my best time, makes me wonder what I could have done if I had done it right! After my swim I hung out and watched Cullen and Brunelli duke it out one more time in the freestyle sprints. This time Cullen Jones took it with the fastest 50 ever in the history of Masters Swimming! What a swim! I hope we see some of these guys again next year.
Now that I was done I changed back into regular person clothes but hung out on deck to cheer for my friends in the 200 breast. My teammate Julie swam it, and I caught my friend Sarah swimming it too. Before I left I caught a killer race between my friends Jim and Bob.

Goodbye for now friend... I have a feeling I'll see you in the pool again someday

Last night I got together with my teammates that were still in town for drinks and a little dinner at the hotel the rest of them were staying in. We had a ton of fun! I’m very glad we’ve all found each other and landed on the same team! But now all the fun is over and I need to start traveling home… I’ll be on airplanes all day, but I’ll be back underwater soon!

I woke up way earlier than I really wanted to today… my first individual event was probably going to be around mid day but I had a relay to swim on early so I needed to be to the pool early-ish. I got in a little after 8 and ran into my teammate Becky. We took a seat up in the spectator section for a while just to have some space to ourselves, but it was pretty packed already even in the cheap seats.

Eventually I hopped in to warm up with my friend Sarah from Finis and we landed in Cullen Jones’ lane. He was cool and chatted with us and the other people around our lane. He kept making his way to the bottom of the pool and blowing bubble rings which is something I’ve never really seen before. He said it helped him hold his breath better during races. It makes sense… note to self: learn to blow bubble rings :)

After a while the rest of the team started to trickle in. We had a pretty strong medley relay… Ahelee on backstroke, me in breaststroke, Jinxi in fly and David on free. My body was still a little on the fritz today and I was worried about my legs locking up again like they did last night in the 200 free relay. Ahelee swam a really strong 50 back and my dive in after was a little weak. I couldn’t quite launch the way I wanted to. My pull downs felt pretty decent but I felt like I was just spinning my arms the last 10-15 yards on the way back to the wall. My split was a high 32 which isn’t super great for me but it isn’t bad either. After our swim the four of us got pulled over into the USMS video booth for a quick interview to talk about our team and how we all came together on the same team. I didn’t really realize it earlier, but me, Jinxi and David are all adopted CVMMers. Hopefully we see that online sometime soon.

a bunch of my teammates down on the pool deck

After the relay I spent a bunch of time just messing around on deck and talking to people. That’s probably my favorite part of this meet. Everybody from everywhere is here. I can’t go 10 feet without running into somebody I’ve swam with or chatted with online somewhere.

When it was finally my turn to actually swim I was pretty ready to go. I figured even if my legs freaked out on this one I’d be fine since I’d be dolphin kicking. I was in the outside lane right along side where my team was sitting. I tried to take the first 25 out real hard and kick it out best I could. On the way back I just tried to keep my head down and get as much out of my pull as possible. I finished with a 26.4 which isn’t a best time but it’s pretty good for me. I still really want to see that 25, but I guess it will have to wait till next SCY season.

I had a ton of time until my 100 free so I went on a little adventure on the Georgia Tech Campus. I walked around exploring a bit. It was good to get some non-chlorinated air and stretch out my legs walking. Only downside was it’s way to humid and hot out here for me. Spending the last 15 years on the coast I’m not so good with the hot weather anymore. When I wandered back into the pool mission number one was to get hydrating again. I downed a few water bottles to make sure I didn’t get too dehydrated again. I also got a chance to meet another one of my twitter friends in person for the first time which was cool.

When the men’s 100 free finally came up I had all kinds of time to wait still because there were sooo many dudes swimming it (59 heats!). And everybody except me was really fast at it! I didn’t even swim with my age group, I was in an overflow heat with a random mish mash of guys from different age groups. When my race got going I felt like I couldn’t get all the way into gear. My first 50 was pretty slow, I took it out in a 27 (there’s that number again) and was a little worried at the turn. I knew I took it out slow and I didn’t feel like I was in the right part of the pack so after the turn I tried to just build my intensity since actually “sprinting” wasn’t exactly on the menu today. As that 2nd 50 went on I started reeling in some of the other dudes in my heat. At the finish I had no idea what I had done. I couldn’t read the results board without glasses on and based on that first 50 I was a little worried about what I was going to see. I got out and squinted at the timers results sheet and they had me in the 55′s! I was pretty stoked on that, best I’ve done as a grown up is a 56 low so I was very happy to be into the 55 range. After talking to my teammates who were watching they said I essentially even split it which is something I’ve pretty much never done, but maybe I should start trying it!

After my race I was ready to get out of the pool and relax a bit, but first I had to watch Cullen and Brunelli duke it out in the 100. Those dudes are fast! Brunelli pulled out a 42.6 for the win and the USMS National record, wow. Once I processed that I figured it was time to start figuring out how to get home. I hopped a trolley by the pool but it didn’t go to my hotel so I got out where I had dinner last night kind of by the convention center hotel and just walked the mile to the hotel. It was a good and a bad idea all at the same time. I like walking when I can, but that heat… ugh. I grabbed some lunch to go en route and inhaled it once I got back to my room. Now that I’m here at the hotel I think this is going to end up a very low key evening. My body doesn’t like me at the moment so I need to give it a break.

look at that crowd!

surprise! there's my buddy Coach Chad from Rose Bowl

Bob Strand breaking down his new 100 Breast record

This was basically the longest day ever seeing as it started Thursday morning and it’s just about to turn Saturday and I’m still up! I hopped on a plane Thursday night from SLO to San Francisco, then one to Cleveland, and finally one last hop to Atlanta. I was on the ground by 10 and probably to the hotel by 11. They didn’t have any rooms ready for me yet, but they did offer me a ride to the pool which was cool. I left my main suitcase with them and hopped in the van.

When I got to the pool I was impressed with just how many people were there. The place was packed and I was running into friends from different corners of the country at every turn. After some floating around I found my team and set my bags down. I was tired out of my mind at this point but excited to be there. I changed into a suit and grabbed my goggles so that I could get in a swim just to recharge myself. The warm up pool was quite the experience… it’s basically permanently packed with people.

My first event of the day was the 100 fly and it turned out to be hours away. I spent all that time walking around on deck talking with my friends. Some I was meeting in person for the first time which was cool. Hopefully I made sense all day despite being borderline delirious from sleep deprivation.

Eventually my event turned up. I was heat 31 of 36 and had an outside lane. My lofty goal was a 57, but I would have been stoked with a 59 given the circumstances. I felt like I had a really strong start, the blocks here are really nice. I didn’t dolphin kick out as far as I normally do though. I think I took about 6 strokes on that first 25 and normally I’m good for 5. On the way back I swallowed a little water and took some bonus breathes to try and cough it out. The second 50 felt pretty solid, I still took a few too many breaths though. I normally breathe every other but that water I swallowed threw my game off a little bit. When I touched the pad at the end of my race I had no idea what I did. I couldn’t read the board from that side of the pool and had to ask my friends behind the block what I did. 58! Perfect, I split the difference :)

My next swim was really soon after the 100 fly. I was leading off the 200 mixed free relay. It was me, David, Becky and Jinxi… super solid relay. Unfortunately this is the point that my body decided to completely unravel. I felt a twinge in my calves when I dove in and they totally locked up off the wall. It hurt ridiculously bad. I tried to keep my head down and just tough it out. I’m pretty sure I yelled at the bottom of the pool. I swam a super sucky 27 something… yikes. I had to just wait and hang onto the lane line and try to work out my cramps, it didn’t work out so hot. My legs are still displeased with me, I’m hoping it works out better tomorrow.

After the meet I went back to the hotel to regroup a bit and then went out to dinner with my team. We had a good time and a few drinks. Probably not ideal, but I drank a lot of water too so that balances it out right? I finished my evening with a beer in the hotel lobby with my friends David and Alicia. We were joined briefly by one of the biggest names at the meet… Cullen Jones! How cool is that? He talked to us for a couple minutes and let everybody get in a quick iPhone picture with him. I’m looking forward to seeing him swim tomorrow although I’m not looking forward to him being in my age group!

USMS is continuing to put out some really great video content for the meet, here’s their wrap up from day 2.

last trip to the pool before ATL

Today has been extremely busy so I was very pleased to have a brief escape to the pool for lunch to get in one last swim before I jet off to USMS Nationals. The sun was shining in Santa Maria and the water felt great. My arms felt a little weird though because I had that creepy just shaved feeling going on. I swam our stock warm up and then detached from the group to go do some faster stuff. 25′s from mid pool to work on turns. A couple starts. Some slow stuff. After 1000 yards I was ready to roll out. I just wanted to have that feel for the water and soak in a little sunshine before I start my travels.

200 swim
200 kick
200 pull

6 x 25 sprints from mid pool focused on turns

easy 50

2 25 sprints off the blocks, easy 25′s back

100 slow

1000 yards total

I’ve been checking in intermittently with the real time results from the meet and it looks like everyone is doing well. I connected some friends from different parts of the country to count for each other in the 1650 and they both had good swims so I’m stoked about that! As the meet goes on you can watch the results here.

Tonight I’m getting on a plane in SLO just before 9pm to get me to SFO, at 11pm I take off for Cleveland, and tomorrow morning the last leg of my epic journey will put me in Atlanta before lunch. I’m hoping championship excitement and adrenaline keep me going through to my 100 fly in the afternoon!!! If you see me on deck stop me and say hi… I’d like to meet everybody that reads the blog to say hello and thank you!

To get the rest of you excited, here’s a video preview of the meet from USMS. They’re going to be doing a lot of video stuff, Facebooking, tweeting etc. during nationals if you want to stay up on what’s going on at Georgia Tech. If you’re into twitter you can follow me at @smsrob or you can watch the #USMS hashtag to see what’s going on!