I’ve been keeping busy this past week with the switch to heavier pool swimming now that daylight savings time is here and there’s no more sunshine when I leave the office at 5pm. I made the move back to Kennedy’s 50m pool in SLO and laid down some decent late night long course workouts on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. On Thursday I spent my lunch at the beach soaking in some 56 degree water while searching for waves in an unexpectedly docile pre-storm sea. With my LCM adventures I could definitely feel myself getting stronger as the week went on, but Friday dealt me a major setback. I swiped my card like I usually do and was off to the locker room when they stopped me to let me know that my membership was expired. Shit. I asked for how long since I’d been there all week… the dude said January? Uhhh…. probably not… it was late on Friday night and nobody wanted to figure it out so they just let me go workout anyways. Something similar happened to me earlier this year, maybe it’s the same mistake all over again. I’m going to have to figure out what’s up this coming week, I need the flexibility and late hours of that pool to get myself ready for various longer swims I want to do in the coming months.
Today’s swim in Avila Beach was our first foray into sub 55 degree waters in a long time. Luckily the rest of the conditions and the weather were really fantastic. Niel emailed me Saturday night to make sure I’d be showing up since he figured attendance would be light due to the time of year and rain on Friday. I let him know I’d be there, and this morning I got a bonus text from him telling me to bring my rescue buoy because we might make a run on Avila Rock. I was stoked on the idea since I haven’t been out there in a long time and it’s a cool swim that takes you about 3/4′s of a mile off shore.
While we were on the beach scoping the route and looking for any signs of trouble between here and there we had one more person show up which was a bit of a surprise. Amy has been swimming with us for a little while now but she’s still learning a lot about open water. She was open to the idea of trying it out, but Niel and I decided to scrap our original plans since the rock is a fairly advanced route with no real exit points. That matched with the distance and the cold made it seem like a bad idea. Instead we opted for a Poly Pier swim which would still be a good distance and build up some new experiences for Amy that will help a lot for someday that we take her out to the rock.
We went down to the right side of the Avila Pier and made plans to swim out to the buoy line to regroup. It took me a little while to get all the way in. I was definitely feeling that 54 degree water. It’s not something that I can’t do, it just takes me a little while to get my internal heater pumping and the desire to fully submerse myself. Amy took off swimming first, followed my Niel shortly thereafter… I complained my way through a few more waves and then took off swimming. By the buoy I had burned about halfway through my acclimatization but needed a few more minutes to get all the way comfortable. On the way to the buoy I had a seal stalker. As a matter of fact through the whole swim we had 3 very curious seals trailing us. 2 big black ones and a smaller guy that was grey and spotted. Every time we stopped they’d pop up in various places around us to observe what we were up to.
After our quick regrouping session we swam to the end of the buoy line and then angled for the cross braces on the Poly Pier. We let Amy get out in front of us a bit since she’s slower than Niel and I. She started out on an ok line but then started to peel left towards the tip of the Poly Pier. I chased her down and tried to herd her back online a bit. We were going the right way again and I shifted back into my own gear and made my own way to the pier with the occasional turn onto my back to make sure she was roughly on course. Somewhere towards the end she started drifting outward again. Niel and I had already made it to the pier so we decided to swim her down and cut off her route instead of waiting for her to notice she was off course. Sighting off a couple of extra pipes on the pier can be a pretty hard thing to do especially with the glare of the sun and never having been there.
Once we had everyone regrouped we negotiated the next leg of the swim, it would either be back to the buoy line on the end of the Avila Pier. Since we were directly in line with the tip of the pier we opted for that. We let Amy get a little ahead again and Niel took extra care on this leg to make sure we kept her on line. It’s probably a 600m shot and we made a couple regrouping stops in the middle to keep the group together.
At the tip of the pier we took a few moments to rest and regroup while the people on the pier observed some of San Luis Bay’s more peculiar marine mammals in their natural habitat. Since there was a dude fishing off the corner of the pier we made plans to arc out a ways and then turn in for the beach. The tide was really high so we had a lot more swimming than usual to do to get all the way back. En route I crossed paths with a sea otter. He looked a little displeased with me interrupting his Sunday stroll. About a meter from my face he dove, disappeared into the murky water and popped back up behind me undoubtedly muttering sea-otter-anese expletives about swimmers harshing his mellow.
All told we did about 1.25 miles and I felt really good afterwards. My only real concern was the water quality, it seemed a little questionable on the east side of the pier… fingers crossed on not getting sick, don’t need that! Looking forward into next week I need to figure out where and where I’m swimming so I can keep up my current workout escalation.