You know it’s cold when even the seals don’t want to be in the ocean. I got to the beach around 10am and there was a crowd on the sand around what looked like a seal, a Harbor Patrol guy was on site checking things out as well. My first thought was oh man I hope there’s not a bite in it… when I ran into Sylvia a moment later she had the same thought. Great minds think alike huh? :) Luckily for us and for our seal friend he hadn’t been chomped. He was just underweight and discombobulated. He looked like an elephant seal and he wasn’t much larger than a big dog. Speaking of dogs… if you’re at the beach and something like this is going on put your dog on a leash please! A lot of dogs did run-bys freaking out the seal which incidentally can net you a fairly enormous fine if someone feels compelled to dole it out to you. Anyways… the marine mammal rescue people came down from Morro Bay and scooped him up and took him off to get fatter and healthier and hopefully deposited back into the sea.

"you people are nuts, it's cold out there."

After all that excitement Niel showed up and I went with him to take the temperature up on the pier. He uttered the magic words “there’s no way it could be any colder than Wednesday…” and voila 48 degrees. Yikes. That’s the coldest water I’ve seen measured since I’ve been swimming in Avila. I think we’ve hit upwellings that cold, but this is the first confirmed 48. Oh boy.

more like 47.75 but no one wanted to call it that

Back on the beach we told the other swimmers what was up but conspired to tell Duke it was 55 when he got back from his run. He totally bought it :) As we neared 11 more swimmers filtered in, we had a lot of out of towners (Bakersfield, Santa Monica, and Australia!) and a few new people we’ve never seen before. All told we had 10 people get in the water, that’s huge for us in spring! Since there’d be a lot of people who never get anywhere near water like this I felt it wise to tell Duke the real water temperature :)

why am I always tied to shit these days?

Special today I had a new toy to try out, the Swimmer Buddy. It’s a towable safety float like the SSD but it’s made out of a boogie board and has a lot of room to strap gear that can get wet. I attached my GoPro to it to take pictures of today’s adventures. I’ll do a review of the Swimmer Buddy when I’ve taken it out a few more times, but for a first go it did pretty well.

our Poly Swimmer and Australian meet the balmy waters of Avila Beach for the first time

On our way to the water we were stopped by a lifeguard (they’re back in season). He asked Niel “hey has that guy been in the water like that?” about me with no wetsuit. Niel explained that I was that guy who swam to Pismo from there on New Years Day last year. The lifeguard was familiar with my ill advised exploits and said with a smile, “ahh, well then I don’t even need to watch that guy then.” When we walked into the water the cold hit you pretty solidly. Wow. As per usual I moved in pretty slowly. I hung back with our two newest visitors, a girl from Cal Poly and the Australian. He was pretty uncertain that he wanted to do this, turns out the water surrounding his continent is substantially warmer :) Our Poly swimmer swam out a bit and was having a hard time getting her face in the water but was otherwise doing ok, she did a lot of backstroke to give the front of her head a break. Our Australian wisely decided to pass… he’s a high level no body fat kind of triathlete, 48 was just too much even with a wetsuit. He is hoping to come back and get in a swim with us before he goes home, we just need to get back up into the 50′s first!

It's unlikely that Duke is making fun of me for not putting my arms in the water in this picture :)

Eventually I pushed off and swam for the first buoy. The water sort of hurt but I was in control of my frostiness. There was never a descent into shivering but a few choice extremities weren’t feeling so good. I met up with most of the group at the buoy. A few had already started moving towards the last buoy towards the point. After a brief pause I turned and started moving that way too. The conditions were really nice today save the water temp. Nice and smooth, minimal wind, no chop. The SwimmerBuddy towed nicely and didn’t slow me down too much although I wasn’t going  all that fast to begin with.

swimming to the buoy line... brrrrr....

checking for any stragglers

At the last buoy we all reconvened and Niel wanted to go to the tip of the pier like we did on Wednesday. I thought about it a bit and decided it wasn’t a good idea for me to swim that far from shore today. I was pretty in control of my internal temperature but if I lost my grip I didn’t want it to be 500 meters from the beach. I let it be known I was swimming back the way I came along the buoy line and our Poly swimmer decided to follow along. She’s a good swimmer and not new to open water, but this was her first ocean swim. Hell of a day to get started!

so who is going where?

I vote this way

We took off for the first buoy and swam together a bit then she dropped me. I hope she becomes a regular, it’s always good to have a few faster people in the mix to give the rest of us someone to try and chase. At the end of the line we took a quick pause, chatted for a moment and then aimed for the beach. The surf was nice and small so we didn’t have much to worry about, but I was cautious on the way out since I did have a board strapped to me with a giant fin on it!

2 more buoys and we can get out...

I get the sneaking suspicion I'm being followed

On the beach I dried off and towel changed into something dry. I didn’t want to get cold. Luckily there was a lot of sunshine to keep that from happening. Those of us on the beach hung out and talked a bit and shortly thereafter the rest of the crew came back in along the pier. A good number of us stayed at the beach for a few hours enjoying the weather and catching up since we’d been rained out so often recently. My friend Dani dropped in around 1 and we held down the beach until 3 something. It was a pretty awesome day. Hopefully we have more just like it en route, but maybe with some luxuriously warm water in more of a 53-55 degree range :)

with such a big head it's sort of a given that I'd be good at headstands

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