last swimmer comes in under the pier while we chat with a cyclist on the pier

After a few days of big heat here on the Central Coast we slipped back into our usual summer fog. At some point in the middle of the day the temperature at my office in Grover Beach dropped like 10 or 15 degrees as the marine layer drifted in. Since it came in so deep and so thick I figured even Avila would be ensconced in a layer of gray when I went out for my Wednesday night swim. It was all fog between work and the Avila Beach off ramp, but as I wound my way closer to the beach I passed into a pocket of sunshine that was oblivious to the fact that it was supposed to be foggy. From the beach you could see the marine layer off the coast lined up like a wall running from the hills in the north and looping around to Shell Beach in the south.

the northern section of the marine layer bubble out past the pier

There were only 3 of us swimming today… Niel, Pete, and me. Because the fog out over the water was so thick we decided it was best to stick to the buoy line in case it decided to make moves for the beach. We didn’t want to get lost in a fog bank in the middle of our swim. Although there was a NOAA warning earlier in the week about major waves hitting south facing beaches it never came to fruition. The waves were healthy with nice clean faces on them, but not huge as advertised. As we got in I was very pleased to learn we had nice “warm” water.┬áThe water was all the way up to 62 degrees which is a swing of 9 degrees from what the guys measured on their Sunday swim. It’s kinda crazy just how wildly our temperatures are yo-yo-ing this summer. I fully expect my race down at Corona Del Mar this weekend to be 47 degrees now to balance out my 62 degree excursion today :)

Pete swimming towards us as fog spills over the hills

Today’s swim route was pretty easy… swim to the south end of the buoy line and follow it all the way to the point, turn around and swim the buoy line all the way to the other end on the north side of the pier, then turn around and swim back to where we started. We think it was about 1.25 miles or so.

me and Niel down at the point

On the way down to the point we swam through a lot of loose kelp. Bits and pieces of it were all over the place. This is my least favorite kind of foliage… the ninja kelp. Virtually invisible until you hit it and your imagination decides it’s something far more exciting than a plant. My brain usually goes straight to shark or jellyfish. Amazingly after some very lively swims I didn’t see any animals at all in the water today. No seals, no nothing… just birds overhead. I think I figured out where they all went afterwards though. A huge bait ball was building like 3/4 of a mile off shore like straight out from the point, I didn’t realize this until we were back on the beach. You could see thousands of birds circling in one spot and they were eventually joined by a fishing boat. I’m guessing that’s where all the seals and who knows what else were spending their evening!

The swim from the point back towards the pier was interesting in that we had some current pushing back at us and a lot of that water was quite a bit colder than what we had started in. It didn’t really throw off my swim at all because even at what was probably 57 or 58 degrees it was still way warmer than what I had this weekend in Port Hueneme!

We regrouped at the pier and then swam underneath together. The view on the other side was pretty cool. That dense wall of fog with the sun shining on it and some boats parked inside our little bubble.

looking off towards a sailboat parked just out past the buoy line

We wrapped up our swim by going under the pier one more time and then arcing out towards the beach. We didn’t want to swim too close to the pier because there were a few dudes fishing up there. On the way in we were followed by a decent set of waves. I backstroked a little and waited for an opportunity to surf something. I caught a good one and bodysurfed down to the really shallow water right at the edge of the beach. In retrospect I should have swam back out for a few more because it’s pretty rare we get waves that nice and clean to ride.

Tomorrow I’m back in the pool and this weekend I’ll be racing 1 mile’s worth of open water in Orange County… I’m also looking for somewhere to swim on Sunday or a bonus swim to do Saturday while I’m down there.

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