I got an email from Niel this morning along the lines of : the water is up to 52 and it might rain, sounds like perfect conditions! I’m glad I found someone else whose idea of a good time is just as bad as mine, I have the best swim buddy ever :) I confirmed that I would be there too and waited for my chance to go play in the sea. To top off his swim buddy awesomeness he brought me a copy of Penny Dean’s book on Open Water Swimming! I’m going to have to dig into that this weekend!
Things were looking pretty ugly weather-wise when I left the office at 5. Overcast and windy, about a mile from the Avila Beach offramp it started raining… uh oh. It kept raining as I traversed the windy road that takes you to the beach and a half mile out of town it stopped. Perfect. As I came up onto Front street I saw Niel walking from his car and I managed to snag a really good spot right near our staircase to the beach. When I got out you could smell fresh rain… apparently we had enough rain to smell good, but not so much as to make the water dirty or ruin my day.
We got ourselves set up under the only overhang between the sidewalk and the beach just in case the skies opened back up. We debated routes a little bit while observing what the ocean was up to. Most noticeable was a very steady right to left (west to east) current driven by a fairly strong wind (17ish miles per hour according to the nearest buoy). We passed on taking a water reading since we knew we didn’t want to know, and with the water moving that much we were probably going to have all kinds of different temperatures out there.
We decided to get in on the port side of the Avila Pier, swim to the buoy then down to the phantom creek buoy and over to the cross brace on the Poly Pier. We’d return the same way.
Getting in sucked. The wind and water temperatures combined made for a less than good time. The “good” news was that a set of fairly healthy waves was en route and I wasn’t going to have much of a choice about getting in shortly. When the first unavoidable wall of water came rushing at me I dove through it and came out on the other side with a big “YEEEEEAAAAAAAAAARGGGGHHHH!” It got a giggle from some folks up on the pier watching in wonderment that two crazy people really thought it was an appropriate time for a swim :)
One more wave hit me and then we were off swimming up the faces of the incoming swells and I was doing what I could to acclimate to what felt like 50-51 degree water (the buoy has been running 50.0-52 today). We took a really brief stop at the buoy and then set a course for where we feel the creek buoy would probably be even though it’s been absent for quite a while now. On the way down I saw the Pale Kai Hawaiian Outrigger club setting up and getting ready for their workout. That whole scene is pretty interesting to me but they workout the same days we do so it’s pretty much out for me.
Once we hit about where the buoy should be we regrouped real quick and then turned a little bit to take on the Poly Pier. Although the first leg was bumpy, this one was straight uphill into the wind and chop. Also… that super cold patch me and Duke found on Sunday… right where we left it. Oh man! Cold cold cold between the phantom buoy and the pier. I need some kind of watch thermometer or something to get a reading on these cold patches to see if they live up to how cold we think they are. This must’ve had a 4 on the front of it. The hair on my legs hurt it was so cold. It felt like someone was beating me with a cactus all over my legs and armpits. Really weird sensation.
Eventually we hit the pier and everyone agreed it wasn’t particularly warm today :) We also took solace in the fact that the way back would be all “downhill,” yay! We set a course for the Avila Pier and trudged back through the super cold spot… brrrrrr… Once we were over half way to the pier we transitioned into warmer seeming water (this is the same freezing ass cold water that we got in through at the beginning of our swim) and it felt way better. When we got to the buoy we even just hung out there for a few minutes shooting the breeze no longer affected much by the cold.
As the swells started to pick up again we decided to swim it back in to the beach. I like swimming inline with bigger swells and having all that elevation change while just going about your own business. In the shallower water I looked for something to bodysurf but it didn’t really happen. Once we got out I was ready to just dry off and get changed. I do really well inside the water, but add wind and I have issues sometimes. I managed to get dressed and put together without ever breaking into a shiver, but it was definitely one of the colder days I’ve ever been out. As I was leaving the beach I was treated to a chunk of rainbow peeking through the clouds out towards the point. I tried to get a pic with my iPhone but apparently iPhones don’t work on rainbows… maybe they’ll upgrade that on the iPhone 5? :p
I’ll be back in the pool tomorrow! Hopefully it goes well and I break out of my pool swimming funk… I think I’m going to bring a new toy with me to make it more interesting…