Lynn and Cherie down in Shell Beach

This weekend I got a visit from some of my Laguna Beach Oak Streaker friends, Lynn and Cherie. Lynn is one of my favorite people and I’ve swum with her all over the place and we’ve crewed a lot of swims together. Cherie I met at Jamie Patrick’s swim camp and I’m slated to swim along on her upcoming Anacapa swim in August as a pace swimmer. Both are super cool chicks and I was very stoked when I got the word that they’d be road tripping up the coast to come see me and swim in Avila Beach with me and my local crew!

super high tide!

Saturday morning the girls swam the Seal Beach Rough Water Swim and then hopped in the car to drive to my place in Arroyo Grande. I surfed in Pismo with my friend Danilu while they fought their way through traffic. As they got closer I asked what they would want to do when they arrived and the text back from Lynn read “BEACH!!!” I figured I can do that :) Once we got the car unpacked and everyone set up in the guest room I took them out to Shell Beach to check out some of our more dramatically pretty beaches. We poked around at Shelter Cove but the tide was extremely high so there was only so much beach to explore. From there we drove a little further north and hit the beach at Beachcomber Drive and took the staircase down the cliff to the skinny strip of sand and walked the length of it. We collectively determined that it’s not too bad living around here :) After the beach we headed south for Nipomo to go see Beth who would be paddling for us on Sunday when we swam in Avila Beach. We hung out on her back deck and caught up and we also met local kayaker and waterman Tom R. who will be doing some paddling for Lynn at the Semana Nautica 6 Miler in Santa Barbara next week. Once we split Beth’s we went back to my house and I cooked dinner and we hung out at my kitchen table until we ran out of wine… pretty good night :)

Lynn stalks a giant snake in my backyard

Sunday morning we planned to get out of the house fairly early to get some breakfast and start swimming a little before the full group swim got going. While waiting for Cherie to get ready Lynn spotted something moving in my backyard… it turned out to be a 3 foot long California King Snake! Adventure nature hike in my backyard ensued soon after! Once we were done following snakes around my yard we piled into our vehicles and made moves for the beach. We met Beth out there. She’d already been in town for a while and had dropped her kayak off on the beach. We sat down for a big breakfast at the Custom House. The waitress overheard us talking about swimming and asked “like here? In that water? Without wetsuits? Really?” :) I always enjoy that reaction.

everybody ever was at the beach today!

Post breakfast we got all our swim stuff and started to get set up on the beach. A couple people were already there and then more and more just started filtering in. At a certain point I decided we should just hang out and wait for the start of the regular group swim so there wouldn’t be a bunch of disjointed groups swimming all over the place later. Ultimately we ended up with 16 swimmers in the water which is ENORMOUS for us! I was super stoked. Beyond the core group of locals and the Laguna Beach visitors we had a couple lifeguards, a first time ocean swimmer from Bakersfield, a Morro Bay surfer, a Cal Poly Triathlete, and then we had some bonus locals come out to enjoy the nice weather and water that we don’t see real often. On top of that we had Beth and her Kayak out in the water to keep us out of trouble which was extra good seeing as there was a boat race going on again today.

swimming to the buoy line

Cherie passes a buoy

The water was measured at 59 today and between that and all the sunshine we had an extremely comfortable day for a swim. I hung back and let most of the group get going in front of me and kind of held down the back end of the pack to make sure everyone was doing ok. We were planning a classic triangle route and everyone swam down to the end of the buoy line together. When we regrouped out there the main group swam to the tip of the pier but we peeled a few folks off that group to just swim along the buoy line instead. I took that group back to where we started and then we swam to the edge of the pier. I gave a few tips on swimming under a pier and then Sylvia imparted our newer swimmers with a few pearls of wisdom gathered across 6 decades of swimming this beach.

Sylvia explains the pitfalls of pier swimming to first time ocean swimmer Rob


After shooting the pier we met up with the main group at the creek buoy (minus the 2 lifeguards that needed to get to work) and then we all swam back to the start together. It was awesome watching all those swimmers snake through the pilings. At this point the majority of the group turned in with a mile under their belt and went to go soak up some sunshine on the beach. Myself, Niel, and Brad (the Poly Triathlete) set out to do one more loop of the triangle course. I was happy to get some bonus distance in and to be able to open it up a bit more for a mile.

Cherie all smiles at the creek buoy

Niel and I cruised at a good pace while Brad pretty much blew us out of the water. The boat racers were still way out at sea which was good for our purposes but there was a lot of fishing going on at the pier. We swam pretty far out from the tip of the pier and then instead of swimming straight for the creek buoy on the other side we swam parallel to shore for a hundred meters or so and then turned towards the creek so as to avoid drifting lines in the water.

Niel rounds the pier

At the creek buoy we tried to figure out what to do with Beth since we couldn’t land her kayak where we were going to finish swimming. When touristy beach time is in full effect kayaks are a nogo inside the buoys and can really only be launched/landed from the part of the beach nearest the creek. We decided to swim to the pier and then swim in on the west side, Beth would go land by the creek mouth and then I’d help her carry the boat back to our hang out spot.

Beth and Lynn chatting at the end of the first loop

Post swim I stayed on the beach along with a bunch of other swimmers and we enjoyed an outstandingly beautiful day. I got to say my goodbyes to Lynn and Cherie and then catch up with some of my buddies down on the sand. We rehashed Olympic Trials a bit since one of our pool training partners coached a kid that semi-finaled a few events during the past week. We also firmed up our 4th of July plans to do a roundtrip swim to Pirate’s Cove which is the local, um, nude beach… should make for an interesting landing if we make our turn around in the middle of one of their volleyball games :)

2 Responses to “Oak Streakers Invade Avila Beach!”

  1. Beth Barnes says:

    Hmmmm, loving the account of the weekend but one picture struck me…the buoy with NO BOATS clearly marked. That may explain why Shawn, the lifeguard was a bit displeased with the kayak but said, ‘since it’s you guys I’ll cut you some slack’! Thanks lifeguards, anyway I’m trying to help, not hinder! Avila Beach rocks in every possible way! Thanks, Rob!

  2. [...] veteran) is in and she was slated to be on the boat as well. Cherie and Lynn came up to Avila for a training visit in early July and we all keep pretty good tabs on each other via the magic of the internetz. Cherie looks on [...]