Been keeping salty this week… started with a one on one training swim on Tuesday afternoon. The weather was a little cloudy but that was burning off. We had a breeze blowing in from the Port and the surface was getting a little textured. There were big groups of birds out and about but they were really far off shore. Before Jen got to the beach I went and measured the water temp (58, our coldest swim together), and let the lifeguard know where we’d be swimming. My plan was to get in her first full ocean mile by doing the triangle route.
She met me down on the beach and we suited up and I explained the program. The first couple legs would all be familiar things we’ve already done before, but the other side of the pier would test what we’d learned previous by introducing new buoys and landmarks to sight off of. We waded in through a small pod of tourist boogie boarders in the white water and then made a line for the first buoy. You could already tell the water conditions were going to be rougher than we’ve had to date so this would be a really good experience builder on a lot of fronts.
Once we had swam down to the furthest buoy on the left side of the pier Jen asked me if the water was as rough as she thought it was. I assured her we had stumbled onto a real deal ocean swim and she was doing great. There was a persistent tightly spaced swell coming at us with an inch or two of chop on top of it… fun! We swam headlong into it towards the top of the pier and made good time despite the push back. Out at the tip of the pier we had a small group yelling questions at us about triathlons. At least they weren’t talking about sharks like the people from Saturday!
We worked on sighting the next buoy and picking alternative points to sight off of since we were pretty much guaranteed to lose the buoy in the chop with our faces in the water. I swam on the inside to herd Jen away from the pier since we had fisherman right there. It was a little awkward for me because I was breathing on my weak side and right into the chop… I got a couple less than pleasant mouthfuls, delicious :/
On top of the rough water there were boats in the way as well that made navigating a little harder and there were a few short legs off in the wrong directions but those were all quickly corrected. In working with a lot of beginners recently I think some of the most important parts of swimming in the ocean are all in your head. If you can relax, think, and adapt you’ll do just fine.
After making it to the creek buoy we turned it back in towards the pier and then home to the beach. On the way in I spotted a piece of nonnative fauna floating towards me… the invasive plasticus bottellus, my least favorite ocean species. I grabbed it, took the cap off so I could crush it, recapped it, and then swam back to the beach with it so I could throw it away instead of letting it continue its oceanic journey.
Post swim we stayed on the beach and chatted a bit while watching the ocean. I’ve talked with her about bait balls before and how if there’s a lot of bird activity in one area we’ll either go somewhere else or abandon a swim, but up till this point she hadn’t seen one. Well nature decided to put on a show out by the buoy in the kelp bed by fossil point. Probably upwards of a thousand birds were swirling and diving in a 50m circle. I’m glad they waited for us to have our fun before doing all that!
On Wednesday evening I was back out at the beach for our regular group training swim. We had 4 of us swimming – Niel, Ryan, Kim and myself. On my walk to the water I saw a bait ball in action on the right hand side of the pier so my route vote was “not over there.” We decided on swimming down the pier and then turning towards Fossil Point to see what happens.
Niel measured 62, but the water at the shore felt a lot colder. It got nicer further out, but the first 25m of ocean not so good. I took my sweet ass time getting in and then chased down Kim and tried to stay close to her since the water was pretty turbulent. It was a lot like Tuesday but amplified.
At the end of the pier we decided to swim for the end of the buoy line first so that we could all stay together since Kim wouldn’t have been in for a trip all the way to the point. Even with the swell pushing at our backs it didn’t seem to help much. I started right alongside Niel but at some point he decided to take a more creative line out towards the kelpy buoy! He figured it out before he hit the kelp, but Ryan and I did stop at one point just to make sure he was going to turn before we finished swimming to the right buoy. It’s kinda funny, a lot of us have been having navigational difficulties with that particular buoy. I think it’s because it blends into the background real well and if you aim for the buildings that look to be above it at the pier you can end up off track if your line isn’t really straight.
When we were all at the buoy we talked about what was next. The consensus was to swim it in. No one was super motivated to go all the way to the point and we didn’t want to leave Kim by herself to swim in solo. I swam alongside her on the way back into the glare of the sun and the chop. She was having sighting issues so I stopped her and changed the plan a bit. Instead of picking her head way up to not see anything anyways I had her sight off me and try to stretch out and relax a bit. See if she could build some better momentum and work a little smarter as opposed to harder. Keeping the head down by just looking at me helped a whole lot and her swimming looked a lot better. Now we just need to see if we can get that same low sighting in a forward direction!
At the buoy we all grouped up, nodded at each other and swam for the beach. I landed right behind some Russian sounding tourists who where getting really frustrated with boogie boards because they couldn’t catch anything. The perfectly timed wave showed up and I rode it all the way into like 6 inches of water, I think they found that a little demoralizing. Some weird bearded fat guy emerges from the ocean and out surfs them with no board :) Ultimately we didn’t swim that far… less that a mile… but we got our money’s worth out of those conditions.