"I bet it's cold", "I bet you're right"

Today was a cold one! I went out to the beach way early to get breakfast and watch the waves. The water was glassy but some really big (for Avila anyways) waves were rolling though. They were tall, clean and loud! The bigger waves were booming really loudly. Once I was done with breakfast I went to the truck to collect my swim stuff and my duck feet so I could go do some bodysurfing.


After getting on my board shorts and fins I waded out into the water and it was really cold. Definitely colder than yesterday. It took me a while to get all the way wet. Diving under the first wave of the day took my breath away, but I leveled out after a few minutes. I was cautious with my wave choices because if I timed them wrong I was going to get tossed head first into the bottom by 6 feet of falling water. I got in a few really good rides and managed to not get too beat up. My favorite consisted of me riding right at the top of a wave and then getting chucked forward but landing in a way that I continued surfing… totally weird feeling to be airborne above a rushing ocean!

Once I’d had enough I got out and dried off. I ran into Sylvia on her way to the beach and my parents were walking through town and I caught them up on the side walk. Once Niel showed up I went with him to go get the water temp. It felt really cold to me and I wanted to see if my human thermometer was on point today. We measured about mid-pier and came up with 51.5 degrees… definitely cold!

pretty sure it's the belt makes me look fat... just sayin'

Back on the beach I got geared up and decided to try out my Swim Safety Device (SSD) storage buoy thingie today. I put some clothes and shoes in it, rolled it up, inflated it and attached it to my waist. The 4 of us walked down to the water and once it was deep enough I let the buoy float behind me. While we were all standing around avoiding actually getting all the way in the water we saw a 5th swimmer show up on the beach. We couldn’t tell who it was but decided to wait for him to get set up. Niel and Pete got out of the water for a minute but I stayed in to get acclimated. Once there was a bit of a break in the sets coming in I tried to swim out a bit and get a feel for the SSD. On my way a wave got a hold of the both of us and broke it right off me! The clip that holds the tether to the buoy broke right in half and my stuff surfed all the way back to the beach without me! Luckily Pete was there to pick it up, once I grabbed it from him I ran it back up the beach to toss with my stuff to worry about later. I’m going to have to fashion some kind of replacement attachment or request a new one somehow… I still think the SSD has potential to be a cool tool but it apparently isn’t so great for swimming out through the surf.

pretty good, except for one little problem... that little guy right there

Once I had made my way back to the water we now had 5 swimmers working on getting in the ocean. The ocean wasn’t particularly into the idea however. We were getting pushed pretty hard up top although I felt a strong undercurrent at my feet. Eventually Pete took off swimming up the face of a wave and after the rest of us took a few more waves we chased after him.

Niel ended up out front and instead of stopping in line with the buoy line he just kept going. Me and Chad stopped and watched him for a while wondering how far he was going to swim before stopping. Since it didn’t look like stopping was going to happen soon we followed after him. I guess Niel was basing his guess on where to stop on the swells and didn’t realize that he had swam as far as he did.

wondering where Niel is going

From here we swam down to the end of where the buoy line should be before stopping to regroup. Niel, Chad and I got there about the same time and hung out while Pete caught up. We could really feel the rolling of the ocean out there. I wonder how long it’s going to be agitated like this?

Chad swimming over to a regrouping spot

Everyone was getting pretty cold but we decided to swim to the top of the pier and then renegotiate once we got there. The swim out was ok despite some push in the wrong direction from the ocean. What was not so ok was the steady drop in temperature. You could feel the water slide into being colder and colder. By the time we hit the pier we must have lost at least 2 degrees. All the guys in wetsuits felt it too. We’re pretty confident that we crested into the 40′s out there today. That being said there weren’t a lot of takers for a much longer swim so we finished by cruising down the pier back to the beach.

invisible motorcycle?

On the way down it was hard to figure out where to start looking for breaking waves because such big swells were rolling so far out. Once it was shallow enough to just barely stand I put a few toes down and started looking for a wave to ride in. Chad was right there and we both saw the same one coming right for us. We swam up into it and rode down towards the beach. I ended up staying about thigh deep in the water to watch Pete swim in to make sure he made it ok and he put on a little bit of a show. He swam right at the top of a cresting wave and we had no idea if he was going to get tossed off of it or just barely miss it! He ended up sliding down the back of it but you could tell he was surprised by what had just gone on! If he’d have been about a meter further forward he would have been whomped pretty hard by that wave!

contemplating whether that was a good idea or not...

Post swim I felt pretty good, no shivers.  I think I could definitely push my cold tolerance down a few more degrees but I’m not sure that I’ll get the chance unless we have a really unusually cold spring. We’ll see how it goes! In the meantime I’ll be back out tomorrow and Wednesday. We’re going to relaunch Wednesday night swims for everybody this week and I’m hoping that we draw back out a lot of the crowd we had last year!

all the squiggles at the beach are me running in and out to drop off the SSD

4 Responses to “I Think We Broke Into the 40′s Today!”

  1. william says:

    Avila sounds like fun. I live in Salinas and have been meaning to join the Lover’s Point group…. Yesterday at the Santa Cruz monthly antique fair i picked up a Barracuda neoprene swim cap (now i have no excuse hahaha) and tinted Barracuda googles $5.00 total! A few years back my first swim was in front of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and then i started lap swimming i’ve swum a few times in San Francisco at the aquatic center. But now i’m skinnnier and worried about the cold hahaha:)

  2. Rob D says:

    you should definitely check out the Lover’s Point swimmers, they’re a fun group and the ocean is beautiful there! The best way to get into the whole cold water thing is to just start swimming and build up a tolerance, that neoprene cap will help a lot keeping your noggin from freezing up :)

  3. don macdonald says:

    hi rob, what GPS unit are you using these days. would like to take one with me to tampa.

    also, i will be back in LA the 25/26. had asked beth barnes for some folks to swim with on the north side and wasn’t sure were you lived relative to the north LA beaches…

  4. Rob D says:

    it’s a Garmin Forerunner 310xt… I took the watch straps off of it and tuck it in under my cap for swimming

    I’m way to the north of north LA beaches… I live up towards Pismo Beach which is about 3 1/2 hours from LA so unless you’re looking for a big drive you might not run into me this time around!

    have a good trip and good luck in Tampa!