Yesterday the guys and I went for a little swim in the ocean. The ocean wasn’t particularly pleased with us however. Niel measured 49 degree water from mid pier and according to the nearest NOAA buoy the wind was running between 11-22 knots while we were swimming with gusts much stronger than that. There was a very obvious right to left current running down the beach from the wind, and some occasional plus size sets with big barrels but no way out of them. A couple surfers were out testing their luck but they mainly just took turns getting folded in half and thrown at the bottom of the ocean.
We ended up with a crew of 4. Myself, Niel, John, and Ed who was joining us for the first time on a Wednesday. We decided to start by swimming against the current as opposed to finishing our swim with that. We marched over to the west side of the pier and started the long walk into the water. My wetsuited compatriots took their time a little bit as well, but I was the last one to the party by a long shot. I did a lot of clapping and cursing and jumping up and down as I acclimated and psyched myself up to actually submerge. When I finally got out deep enough that I had to contend with unavoidable waves I dove through the face of one and came out the other side yelling! I find being loud distracts me from being cold :) I may have frightened small children up upon the pier with this one though… it was a frosty growl that started deep within me. YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH! After that I laughed… the giggle of a lightly hypothermatized madman… and took chase after my buddies who were already at the first buoy.
Since it was so cold and I was so far behind they didn’t wait for me. I veered right to catch up with them maybe 10-15m down from the first buoy. Niel stopped for just a second to make sure I was ok, I briefly doubted my intelligence aloud and then we swam face first into the chop and the sun. It was lumpy and bumpy and good for a few mouthfuls of water. As we neared the end of the buoy line I could feel myself relaxing into the water temp, but I was feeling it more than usual. Not sure if that was because of the actual temp itself or if it’s because I spent so much time out of the water processing the flu out of my system. If I wouldn’t have gotten sidetracked by illness I would have really wanted to attempt a 10k-ish distance at this type of temperature. I probably don’t have enough time to get ready for that type of swim before temps creep back up this year. I’m a mix of relieved and disappointed :)
At the creek buoy we regrouped and decided to swim to the end of the pier since everyone was doing ok and the chop was pushing that way anyways. Although the chop and wind were to our backs it wasn’t all that helpful. You had to really pay attention when breathing since your head was liable to be inside a wave whenever you attempted to get a little air. Some of the guys took a more inside route but Niel and I looped a little further out since we were going to get pushed into the same spot anyways. Might as well work with it then have to fight it at the end if you get too close to the pier.
Niel and I got to the pier first and floated a bit while the other guys caught up. There were a few people on the pier checking us out wondering why anyone would be swimming on such a windy day. We decided to swim straight back in on the creek side of the pier since people were fishing on the other side and their lines would be way out with the current making it more likely we’d be pulled out as catch of the day. The swim back in was pretty tough. Lots and lots of motion to fight against. John and I both took a quick pause at the buoy line to ensure all swimmers were accounted for and then we finished the swim in.
Since the waves were occasionally pretty big we treaded lightly as we found the edge of the breakers. Whenever I stopped and tried to put a foot down I’d get pulled back out so I had to keep moving to maintain position. Ed doesn’t have a lot of experience with this part and I tried to tell John to wave at him if he breathed in his direction so that we could help him in. John had no idea what I was saying… I’d frozen my mouth out and was talking gibberish, haha. Ed managed just fine on his own and the rest of us came out without much trouble.
Back on the beach I felt pretty good. That cold water induced mild euphoria. Despite the wind I never got the shakes (wind bites into me worse than being submersed), but made sure to change into real clothes quickly while the guys went and showered off. I usually skip the beach shower because I’m much more interested in the real deal back at the house. I was pretty amped up the rest of the evening after swimming. I’m so stoked to be back and in full effect oceanically. I’m off the next 3 days and the weather is supposed to be decent so I’m looking forward to a lot of time at the beach. My next real swim should be on Sunday but I may sneak in some form of surfing at some point if I like the looks of what’s going on in the water.

3 Responses to “I’m Not a Smart Man but I Know What Cold is”

  1. Peter says:

    Rob,

    Fun post-sounds like a good swim. I was curious how you carry your camera while swimming?

  2. Rob D says:

    Peter – thanks! For this one I had a GoPro camera attached to my wrist that was set to take a picture every 2 seconds. I finished with a full SD card of like 900+ pictures. I got a lot of garbage but there were a few good shots mixed in there. Typically though I keep a normal point and shoot camera in the front of my suit.

  3. Rob, I’ve only recently found your blog – and really like it.

    This looks like a great swim session – I’m only jealous that I wish I lived closer to some big surf (although our mountain lakes & waterfalls are pretty good too). Keep up the good work!

    Cheers,
    Dan