Avila has been absolutely nuts the last week, it’s like the Pacific rotated a few hundred miles and we’re getting someone else’s surf! We had 3 swimmers tonight… me, Niel, and Natalie… and we didn’t bother making a plan for the swim on the beach because we weren’t sure if we were going to get out! The waves were spaced out more than the last couple trips I’ve made, but they were really big and boom-y.
We walked down to the water together and watched big green walls of doom bear down on us. This was an evening full of disbelief and short yet powerful words :) While looking for a hole to sneak through to open water we got beat the hell up. Niel took an early shot and managed to sneak out through a short set break. Natalie and I continued to get savaged in the whitewater. The way things were spaced out you couldn’t recover from one beating and beat the next wave before it crashed. The wash of the waves would take waist high water and put it up over my head. I got tumbled and tossed back a lot. At one point I saw a little wave and thought we were coming to a break so I tried to swim it out a little further… wrong move… I got washing machined right into the bottom of the ocean… ouch. Eventually, I have no idea how, I managed to swim out. I stopped just past the breaking waves to make sure Natalie got through too, which she did a few waves later, and then we swam out to meet Niel at mid pier.
We all needed a moment to recombobulate ourselves, but not too long because it was cold! We decided to swim the triangle tonight and to hurry up and get started. All three of us swam fairly similar paces tonight and hung close together. The ocean was still throwing big swells at us and some chop was starting to build.
Just past the end of the buoy line we stopped watched the water rise up so high on its way towards us we thought it could almost break into a wave at the buoy line! Absurd. The ocean is amazing in what it can do when it wants to! Anyways we took off for the top of the pier and fought through all the weirdness pretty well.
At the tip of the pier while regrouping the whole group shifted further out to sea while floating around. The current was moving out and the wind was offshore and really building up that chop now. We angled for the phantom creek buoy and I definitely swallowed some salt water on the way there. Again we held in a fairly tight pack which is good because if we had spread out we’d probably never see each other until we stopped.
At the spot formerly known as creek buoy we stopped and scoped out the rest of the route. We started to get some swells from a new sideways direction which was interesting and we could see the backs of really major waves breaking en route to the beach. Our plan was to swim just short of the buoy nearest the pier, turn left, and hope for the best on the way in.
On the way in I flipped over and backstroked a lot just to see where the swells were. I ended up finding a spot that was shallow enough to occasionally stand but positioned in a way that I’d ride over waves as opposed to get pounded by them. I hung back and took some pictures and enjoyed my own personal rain shower. The waves were having the tops blow off as they crested which left me in sets of temporary sprinkles, pretty rad :) Eventually I had to swim it in and I waited for a lull and sprinted until I was shallow enough I could just run out without a wave reclaiming me for the sea.
All told we went about 2000 meters but a lot of that was just getting beat up by the waves trying to get in! Now that I’m home I have a sore jaw and right hip, but I’m out of my mind happy. I’m ridiculously stoked on the ocean right now or I’m just buzzing on the euphoric giddiness of mild hypothermia :) I’ve gotten in 4 Avila swims since Saturday and I’m probably looking at 2 San Francisco swims in the next 2 days! Awesome awesome awesome.
If any of you guys are going to the Open Water Safety Conference in San Francisco this weekend I’ll see you there!