I get asked pretty frequently what my next big swim is and the general answer is, “I don’t know but I have a lot of bad ideas!” Unfortunately my aspirations outpace my funding so focusing my efforts on swims close to home is a pretty good deal for me although it’d still help (a lot) to find a few sponsors for the bigger swims and some local boat captains willing to swing me a deal to pilot some swims.  As we come into MY swim season (fall, winter, spring… summer is for sharks and tourists haha) I figured it was a good time lay out a series of swims I’d like to do based out of Avila Beach. It turns out the ideas that have been brewing in my head stack neatly from 10k to 40k in 10,000m increments. The swims go from difficult towards ambitious and finish somewhere just past absurd. Water temps are likely to run anywhere from about 50 to maybe 60 if we hit a hot day.

Triple Martini Swim – 10k

The Triple Martini is a good start to the ladder because it’s reasonably compact and logistically easy to arrange. One or two kayakers, a waterproof cell phone case and a few harbor patrol/water taxi phone numbers and we’ve got a swim. The Martini swim is a big triangle that runs from the tip of the Avila Pier to the tip of the Poly Pier then over to Avila Rock and back to the Avila Pier. Done 3 times plus the in and out it’s a 10k swim. Thanks to its shape you’re virtually guaranteed at least one difficult leg on each lap. The triangle happens far enough off shore that you pick up a lot of wind you wouldn’t if you were swimming the regular triangle we do on a lot of our training swims which don’t go beyond the end of the Avila Pier.

At this point we only know of 2 swimmers that have completed the Triple Martini. Duke pioneered the course and Niel trained for and completed it this summer. Niel recently reignited my desire to do this swim. He gave me a hat commemorating his completion of the Triple Martini as a thank you for crewing as a (comically ineffectual) kayaker. I’d like to earn my hat by doing the swim. I’m thinking about taking a crack at it around November or December

Avila to Pismo Pier to Pier to Pier – 20k

About 2 years ago I swam from the Avila Beach pier to the Pismo Beach pier as a polar bear swim on January 1st. I wasn’t the first to swim the route, but best we can tell I’m the only genius to do it in the winter. It was a pretty gnarly swim. Cold water mixed with unpleasant conditions which added an hour to my estimated swim time. For a long time I’ve been wanting to come back and attempt a double. I’m not sure which beach I’d start/finish at but I want to go pier to pier to pier. To my knowledge no one has attempted a roundtrip pier to pier swim. Because I’m yet to learn my lesson I’d really like to do this as a polar bear swim in January, I think that’d be pretty legit.

Logistically I’m pretty sure I can put most of this together with a small crew of local friends. Kayakers would serve as navigators/feeders and I’d aim to have land based crew that followed along on the streets above the swim route with cars I could hop into if we need to pull the plug and swim in during the attempt due to cramps/hypothermia/aggressive wildlife.  A motorboat to act as a safety backup craft is a must however. This I’m going to need help on. Either as a favor or via some sort of sweetheart deal. I have the poor, I really can’t afford much.

Avila Beach to Paradise Beach – 30k

Now were’ starting to get a little more ambitious… Avila to Paradise Beach would basically amount to a traversement of San Luis Obispo Bay. Paradise Beach is an isolated stretch of beach south of Guadalupe that can only be accessed via some serious hiking or a monster swim. Although swimming a touch farther to Point Sal proper may be a more complete crossing it’s also a bad idea (well a worse idea). I have little desire to swim into a rocky, surfy, frothy, seal rookery of death and destruction.

This swim is unprecedented, I’ve never heard of anyone attempting this or anything like it. It would require a boat that could hold a small crew (4ish) and keep me on line for probably 10-14 hours. If we’re lucky I can bodysurf a fat swell straight down into the point for a fast swim. If we’re not lucky I could trudge into a south swell that’s being textured over with a strong onshore wind for a looooong time. I’m not sure when we’d be good to go for this swim. I think I’d be ready physically by spring but I’m not sure the conditions would be ideal. I’d have to hash it out with the boat captain, but this may be more of an early summer kind of gig.

Morro Bay to Avila Beach – 40k

Swimming from Morro Bay to Avila is basically nuts. Not only is the distance great you have rough water, cold water, a nuclear power plant, and presumably mutant sharks. This would require a boat that could accommodate a healthy amount of crew because best case scenario this is 12 hour swim. More realistically this is a 16 hour swim. This swim like the Paradise Beach swim is thoroughly unprecedented. Kayakers and paddleboards sometimes make the trek when conditions are right, but you really don’t hear about too many people out on this stretch of coast because so much of it is either inaccessible or off limits.

I’ve was in rest mode for most of September as far as swimming goes. I bodysurfed a lot but I largely abstained from full on swimming (not counting some pace swimming off of the Channel Islands). I needed a break, but more importantly I need new goals to light a fire under my ass and get back to swimming and pushing my personal boundaries… well here they are :) My swim training got back underway in full force at the start of October and hopefully I can work my way up this ridiculous ladder that I’ve just ill advisedly posted to the internet…

One Response to “The Avila Beach Swim Ladder of Doom”

  1. KURTIS says:

    WOW! The goals get more and more exciting. You setting these goals actually inspires me too. Let me know how I can help?

    *All deserve media attention, but the Morro Bay to Avila swim deserves much more then that. WOW. Count Kurtis USA in as the official eyewear sponsor of this quest.