today's group (minus me)

We had a special guest for tonight’s Avila swim, my buddy Cliff from Colorado was in the water with us! He’s fresh off of a successful Catalina crossing this past Friday that he completed¬†simultaneously¬†with 2 other swimmers. While still in California he was cool enough to drop in and go for a little swim with me and my local open water group.

Cliff off the end of the south end of the buoy line

After catching up a little bit on the beach with Cliff, Niel and some of our other swimmers started to show up. No one had a route in mind so I decided to send us off on a little bit of a sampler course. The plan was to swim the left side of the buoy line (what’s left of it anyways), to the top of the pier, straight across to the Poly pier, back down the the right side of the buoy line towards the main pier and then back to shore. It’s probably about a mile and a half.

We ended up with 5 swimmers tonight and some reasonably warm water… back to 60! I’m really glad that 55 degree water we had the other day made it’s way out of there, it was a bit too cold for August!

proof I was actually there too :)

As is our nature, we regrouped at each corner and on the front end of the swim that was pretty much every couple minutes. The shortened buoy line was finished really quickly and then the shot to the top of the pier wasn’t quite as long as it usually is. Even though I didn’t see any seals from the beach I started to notice a good number of them popping up here and there around us trying to figure out what we were and why we were in the ocean.

The next leg of the swim, from one pier to the other, was our longest uninterrupted stretch. We separated out in to groups on this leg. Me and Cliff pretty much swam stroke for stroke all the way to the pier, Niel and Lynne came in together with a very curious cormorant in tow, and Pete… wait… where the hell is Pete? We looked back in the direction that we had just come from and couldn’t find him. He’s really comfortable in the water so I wasn’t super worried, but I did want to know how he could magically disappear.

Lynne and her new bird friend

In search of Pete

Eventually he was spotted way further up the pier (we were aiming for the middle of a very long pier… he was shooting towards the top). It would have been a little awkward to have everyone hang tight while we waited for him to stop and then turn back towards us so we split the group up. Me and Niel chased him down and pointed him back in the right direction, in the meantime I sent Cliff and Lynne off to finish the swim we had planned out so that they wouldn’t get too cold just hanging out. Plus while we had been hanging out a whole bunch of seals came to investigate us. They were surfacing and diving all around us which sounds cool and magical, but when you think about who eats seals it kind of loses its allure.

On the way back to the buoy line I made sure to keep an eye on Pete and not get too far ahead. I also managed to find some cold water on the way in. There was a pocket that dropped a good 3-4 degrees, but luckily it was short lived. I must have swam over a little reef or something that had a decent upwelling in effect. Midway down the buoy line me, Niel and Pete all regrouped and then finished the prescribed swim. We were greeted on the beach by Cliff and Lynne who had finished a little while before us.

one of our seal friends about to dive

After the swim I got to talk a little more with Cliff about his crossing and thank him for dropping in to swim with us. I always like visitors! Plus he’s my second Catalina Channel crosser to hop in the ocean with me this season. I think my house is turning into the official Catalina Channel cool down spot… if you need a mellow swim and some cold salt water I’m your guy… just sayin’ :)

Tomorrow I’ve got a lake swim in the works so that should be exciting since I’ve never swam in that particular location. The big question for tomorrow is do I double up with a lunchtime swim and an after work open water adventure… we’ll see if I can swing it…

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