Today was a pretty exciting day, it was the first ocean swim lesson of the year! I started working with a guy getting ready for an Alcatraz swim this summer, I’m really excited to help him work towards his goals and be able to spread that open water swim stoke to new people… being stoked isn’t just for surfers, us ocean swimmers can get in on that action too :)

I met up with him at 9 this morning and took him out for probably about 1000 meters worth of circles around the left side of the buoy line. We had fairly mellow conditions at first, but the wind chop picked up a little bit as the class went on. We worked on picking his stroke apart and fixing a few things, as well as sighting and holding a line. The main words of the day were: relax and stretch. They’re pretty simple concepts in theory but not very natural for humans suspended in moving salt water to act on. I saw a lot of improvement in the course of our hour and I’m excited to get back out next week to expand on that!

To make my day even better I got to go back to Avila for a second swim after work! I’m a lucky guy :) Turns out while I was at work the conditions degraded pretty badly. The wind was a lot stronger and the chop a lot more substantial. It was on the verge of breaking further out towards the end of the pier.

I met Niel on the beach and we were joined by Ryan, John, and new swimmer Damien. After a little indecision on the course we decided to face the chop head on from the start and do a reverse triangle. Might as well get the burliest part out of the way early right?

We marched on over and the wind was really kicking, I could already tell the water wasn’t going to feel so great at first thanks to that. We waded in pensively and took our time walking through the waves. There were a couple kids with intentions of surfing right there who drifted into that area about the same time we got in. I don’t think that went so well for them… sideways chop and surfboards don’t usually mix so well. I don’t know if they caught any waves, but they were long gone by the time we were done swimming.

Eventually everybody took off but me… I’m not sure what I was holding out for… a mystery burst of warmer water? Who knows. Eventually I tossed myself in and chased after the guys and met them at the first buoy. We tried our best to explain the phantom creek buoy to the new guy and it’s a good thing we did because the dude is fast and smoked all of us right out of the gate! He took it out a lot further than we normally would, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I took a brief pause en route to let John and Ryan pass me so I could take a couple pictures before I got back to swimming the rest of the way to the regrouping spot.

From here we were aiming for the top of the pier and doing our best to avoid hawaiian outrigger canoes that were cruising around out there. I put a little more effort into this leg to try and keep up with Damien and get a vibe for how fast he is since I kind of just hung back on that first leg. This plan worked for about 50m and then kinda fell apart. He’s quick, I’m not :) The water was coming from an awkward angle on this leg and it was probably the hardest stretch to swim, and since we went so far towards the Poly Pier this was a long swim as well.

While waiting for everyone to catch up you could really see the conditions continue to deteriorate. The clouds were rolling in and that wind wasn’t giving up. Luckily the next leg was at least a little “downhill.” I paced alongside John on this one. I really tried to focus on my stroke and what I was doing with my catch. I spent my morning talking all about this kind of stuff so I figured it was a good idea to apply it to myself as well :)

We took a short break at the 2nd buoy on the point side and then swam it down to buoy number one and in towards the beach. On the way in there was a really weird “warm” stretch that was an odd color compared to everything else. This might explain Niel measuring 55 from mid pier when everything else was registering 50… no idea where the hell this water was coming from though… but as an ocean swimmer it’s best to just enjoy the warmth and not question the source because you probably really don’t want to know, ewww… haha

We wrapped it up with a little bodysurfing into the beach and then everyone scattered to go about with their evenings. I took off pretty quick to get home and try to catch up on life a little bit… not sure I was particularly successful, but it’s the thought that counts right?

Tomorrow will consist of a trip to the pool and then, who knows… my regular lake swim buddy is splitting town for a while and I’m not sure if anyone else wants to swim Lopez tomorrow, I’m going to have to send some texts and emails tomorrow to figure it out.

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