Normally my Avila swims are planned out on the beach based on what the day looks like but today a couple of us showed up with an actual plan! Weird right? About a month back a couple of us decided to use this weekend to swim what we call the Martini swim. It’s a swim to the end of the Avila Pier, out to the end of the Cal Poly (formerly UnoCal) Pier, across to Avila Rock and back to the Avila Pier. All told it’s about 2.4 miles. It’s far enough off shore that this is the kind of swim we would only do with Kayak support and Niel was cool enough to be our paddler today. What we actually did was a little bit different because the fog was real thick this morning and you couldn’t actually see most of the navigation points. So instead our route followed the pattern below…
Before we got going I spent a little time in the water by myself just to acclimate a bit. The water was 53 today and my plan was to go sans wet suit. I was a little worried about how long I could hang in those conditions so I let it be known I might bail half way through when we came back to the Avila Pier.
We started with 7 swimmers and swam out to the buoy line and then under the pier to the end of the buoy line on the right hand side of the pier. At this point 4 swimmers made their way for the end of the Avila pier while Me, Duke and my teammate Matt from CVMM who was visiting for the weekend swam out to the end of the Poly Pier. I’ve swam to this pier before but never to the end of it… it’s long dude! As you’re swimming it doesn’t really look that far, but then you just keep never getting there. Matt and Duke were keeping a pretty decent pace and I was a little behind the whole way. I’m still pretty beat up and tired from all my traveling and couldn’t quite hang with them. Plus they had that fun neoprene advantage that I didn’t which peels a few seconds off every hundred meters.
By the time we hit the end of the pier and regrouped I was starting to feel pretty good. I think I’m more built for cold water than hot. The longer I was in the stronger I got. After hanging out for a few minutes we made a line back to the Avila Pier. On this leg I was a little closer to Duke, but Matt was really laying it down and had a pretty good lead on the both of us.
At the Avila pier we had quite a few people staring at us wondering where on earth we had just come from. It’s not so often people swim up to the pier from that angle out of the fog! At this point Matt had to bail to get back to his family that let him sneak out for a bit to go play in the ocean with us.
After a little internal deliberation I decided I wanted to finish the martini swim. I was doing ok with the cold and my shoulder was holding together just fine so I figured I might as well go for it. I think this re-energized Duke a little bit because he wasn’t really looking forward to doing that next big chunk all by himself.
From the pier to the rock is the longest leg of the swim. I’m a right side breather and Duke breathes to the left so Niel parked the Kayak right in between us. At this point me and Duke were holding essentially the same pace and holding a really similar line since we were using Niel for navigation at this point. Although you could kind of see the rock it was pretty enshrouded in fog.
The rock is surrounded by a big kelp bed so our plan was to swim up to the kelp and stop. I really dislike swimming over kelp so I was a big fan of this plan. We stopped here for a bit to refuel. I asked Duke if he wanted to keep going to Pismo (another like 5 miles), it didn’t go over so well :)
Looking back to the beach from the rock you really couldn’t see too much. Another wave of fog had rolled in towards the beach and was blocking our view. We needed to rely on Niel again to make sure we went the right direction. He angled us towards the buoy line and then down the buoys back towards the pier. At the last buoy he pointed us back towards shore and he paddled away to the part of the beach you’re allowed to land a kayak at. Me and Duke swam pretty much stroke for stroke all the way back to the beach until we were in water shallow enough to stand up in.
By our math the way we did the swim today probably added up to around 2.6 miles, not bad for a Sunday training swim! I had a lot of fun and Duke enjoyed himself too. I’m really glad we had Niel available to paddle for us! Next on my agenda for a big local swim is Pismo to Avila (10k), I really need to look seriously at some dates… hmmm