reacquainting myself with the frosty briney goodness of the pacific

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been able to swim in the ocean! Late last night I confirmed I’d have Niel as a swim partner for today and we decided to hit the usual spot in Avila. SLO County has a page on their website with Beach Health Advisories that we’ve been watching (here) but it hasn’t been updated since the 20th so we just used our best judgement. No major rain since Saturday, no visible debris floating in the water, and everything smelled normal so we went for it. The water was definitely murky but I don’t think it was “dirty.”

all smiles on the beach before we got in

I met Niel just before noon and we caught up a little bit since we hadn’t seen each other in a while. Unexpectedly it was a really busy day at the beach, looks like a lot of people with this week off decided to spend it in Avila. I can’t blame them because it was warm and beautiful out. Although it was busy on the sand not too many people ventured into the water. I saw a handful of boogie boarders but that was it. While we were still on the beach my girlfriend and my friend Robin showed up on the beach to say hi.

most of the apples are gone and beachgoers have been building debris teepees

Niel measured the water temp at 56 today off the pier, there were definitely pockets out there that were much colder! Getting in it took me a little bit to re-acclimate after a week and a half out of cold water, but the waves were breaking in just the right way that I couldn’t fight it for too long. After diving through 2 of them I figured it was time to start swimming.

wading in

We decided to go with the classic triangle in a clockwise direction. It was smooth sailing to the end of the left side of the buoy line, but we picked up some chop on the way to the pier. It wasn’t real big but it was persistent and coming from just the right direction to make this leg a little harder. I actually felt good working through the chop though, it’s been a while since I’ve had that and oddly I kind of like it.

view down towards the Avila Pier

We paused for a little bit at the tip of the pier and waved to the spectators up there. It’s always fun to see people’s reactions to us just chilling off the tip of the pier after having swum there from points unknown :) While we were floating out there it was nice and clear and I surveyed my course for this weekend. The Avila Pier, the rock, and the Pismo Pier all kind of line up when you look straight down the coast.

people watching up on the pier... btw that white line isn't an error in the pic, it's a lightpost

On the way to the creek buoy I had to dodge a mooring buoy that I probably should have noticed a little earlier… I was busy breathing to the right and it kinda sneaked up on my left. Luckily I noticed it in time to swim around, I think that would have been the swimmer equivalent of hitting a parked car. Out at the creek buoy we had a nice big cold patch. I’d say 2-3 degree drop. Niel could feel it too in his wetsuit.

Niel with the Poly Pier off in the background

From here we planned to swim down the buoy line under the pier and back in from the same spot we started at. The wind was picking up and you could feel it pushing you towards shore a little bit. I made sure to be extra cautious swimming through the pilings today to adjust for the mix of the wind and the small swells moving towards the beach.

At the other side of the pier we just floated for a while. I wanted some bonus time in cold water before we went the rest of the way in. By the end of the swim I was feeling good in the water. The cold wasn’t getting to me at all, even while at rest. Hopefully I get water this “warm” on Saturday for my 10k, but even if I don’t I think I’ll do fine with whatever the ocean decides to throw at me.

Eventually we swam back in to the beach and I caught a piece of a wave en route that I rode into the shallower water. We were greeted on the beach by a photographer from the local paper which was pretty cool. I’m not sure what day but there’s a good chance that my smiling bearded face will pop up in the Tribune sometime this week in connection to my Polar Bear Swim :) I’ll make sure to post a link to the blog and over on Facebook when it hits the web!

Our photographer from the paper out on the beach, can't wait to see his shots!

As long as there’s not an epic amount of rain coming down in the next day or so I should be back in the ocean on Thursday for one more ocean swim before the main event. I may even try to squeeze one in on Friday since I have the day off… we’ll see if I have any takers on that one!

2 Responses to “Back<— to the Ocean”

  1. Lorraine says:

    Wow, great swim! I whined when our pool lost a foot of water (a bad filter cap leaked) and was refilled in a hurry to 81 degrees. I’m used to a bathy 84, even though I overheat eventually. How do you manage 56 – sheese!

    Have a great Polar Bear Swim! (I’ll think of you while biking in the 20-degree snowscape to celebrate the new year!)

  2. Rob D says:

    Thank you! I’m not sure why I do well in cold water, but I’m one of those people that runs hot all the time… a dip in the ocean mellows me out :)