Niel, my training partner and star of lots of my open water pictures, had a birthday today so we celebrated the best way we knew how… in the ocean! It was warm and sunny at the beach, and a perfect day to knock out a swim for lunch.

We met up on the sand and hung out for a little while and contemplated our swim. The tide was way out and there was a little bit of a breeze moving left to right, but nothing major. We ended up doing the same swim route as we did on Tuesday except the other way around. We planned to get in on the right side of the pier, swim to the creek buoy then to the Poly Pier. After that it would be back to the top of the Avila Pier and down the side back to the beach.

click for swim details

Niel had measured 55 off the pier again today but we both agreed it felt way colder… my human thermometer said more like 53. The walk into the surf was pretty frosty, and the surf was so far out I felt like we might make it all the way to the buoy line before we would have to start swimming! Ha! Eventually Niel took off swimming and I had to work myself up enough to toss myself in the water. Luckily a set of waves that were big enough that they couldn’t be dodged showed up to make that decision for me! Whoosh!

I sprinted out to the buoy and regrouped with Niel for a second and then we made our way to the Creek buoy. On the way down I got a grip on the temperature and everything leveled out for me. One more short stop at the buoy and then we made our way to the Poly Pier. Since this is a somewhat longer leg I got to stretch out a bit and focus on my stroke. The cold water had me a little tense and I needed to relax a little to get my stroke in order.

Out at the Poly Pier we hung out for a bit and talked. I also spent some time fidgeting with my cap. Besides having a huge head I’ve been packing a gps underneath it… this has been leading to lots of rolled up caps. On top of looking stupid it doesn’t really do me any favors. I need to find some kind of new cap that is sufficiently snug to hold down my gadgets, but won’t roll up as soon as I hit water. I’m about ready to go get a water polo cap :)

The swim back to the tip of the Avila Pier was a little rocky, we picked up some chop but nothing major. The two of us took slightly different lines and spent most of this leg of the swim on our own. I don’t think we were ever more than 10m apart, but with Niel off to my left I never really saw him since I was breathing on the other side and looking forward at the tip of the pier when sighting. It’s always weird when you get that alone in the ocean feeling even when you know you’re not. Especially considering how much sea life is probably hanging out under us while we’re out there that we just never see.

Since I picked the direction for the swim today Niel made sure to make fun of me for always knowing the wrong direction to go in regards to the chop… I do kinda have a knack for picking the hard way :) Eventually we swam back in along the length of the pier and I body surfed a little wave to cover the last piece of the swim. Apparently I took it in a little to far because when I got up my suit was full of sand! Whoops. All told a good swim and a great day to be in the water!

In other news… if you follow along on Facebook you may have noticed that I’m doing an 8 mile marathon swim in Utah’s Great Salt Lake in June. Well that portion of the event (there’s a 1 miler as well) is capped out at about 12 swimmers and is very close to filling up! I think they have room for about 3 more swimmers. If you want in on a very unique swim go check out the site: to learn some more about it.

And while I’m at it… a quick link for you guys to check out… Jen Schumacher who I got to watch swim mainland to Catalina back in October while on the boat for the Swim22 relay has a post on her site today that really caught my attention. She was swimming in Laguna Beach, the same spot I was this past Sunday, and had an unexplained “incident.” Totally worth a read, check it out here.

2 Responses to “Niel’s Avila Beach B-Day Swim”

  1. Gords says:

    Thanks for the plug Rob. The GSL 8 mile race will probably be full by the end of next week at the rate we’ve been getting entries. But the one mile race is unlimited.

    Happy Birthday to Niel!

  2. Brendan says:

    The cheapest $3.95 Sporti Solid silicone black swim cap on swim is the best cap I found. It’s thick and doesn’t tear when you pull it on (not yet). And inexpensive.