On New Year’s Day a small group of ocean swimmers embarked on a secret mission to an undisclosed location. Their mission – to “accidentally” fall off the pier and swim back to the beach while having a ridiculously fun time doing so. Pretty serious stuff if you ask me. To ensure the success of our mission I brought in a couple ringers from out of town, Evan and Cathy, to assist in the execution. To prepare for the fall we all drank entirely too much the night before at one of the finer adult beverage establishments in the village of Arroyo Grande. In the morning my housemate filled my hungover crew with courage (and heart disease) inducing bacon to power us through the day.
We arrived to a beautiful day at the beach after a drive that involved a little bit of light rain on the freeway. Joining us were Niel, Dale, Ed and Sylvia. We geared up and then walked down the pier to a section where the railing is half the height of the rest of the pier making it easier to step onto and over. En route we were asked by a lot of people if we were planning to jump off the pier. The stock answer was “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I wonder what it was about a group of 7 people in swimsuits and wetsuits walking to the end of a pier that would make people think that? Despite our attempts to stay under the radar we ended up with around 40 spectators, whoops.
Now that we were in place it was go time. There was no defined order, swimmers took to the rail in whatever order they pleased. Niel started off to show the rest of us how it’s done. Dale and Ed followed soon after. Despite Dale being the thinnest swimmer in the group she made a pretty impressive splash! It was fun to watch Ed go from super nervous/concerned on the beach when we surprised him with the plan for our swim to super stoked on the whole jumping process. With Ed’s jump all the wetsuited swimmers were now in the ocean… it was time for the skin swimmers to hop in.
No one was really taking the lead so Sylvia clambered over the rail. It’s worth mentioning Sylvia is 75 and a total bad ass. She had a quick “what am I thinking?” conversation with herself, did a mini countdown and then plunged 20+ feet into the 53 degree water below. She lost her goggles in the process but was a champ about it, she was just happy it was the ocean that took them instead of the pool. From this point there’s no turning back for the rest of us young folks in our 30′s after watching a septuagenarian do what was making me a little nervous all morning.
Cathy went next and stood on a higher piece of railing and launched herself. She won for the most photogenic leaper of the day.
I decided I wanted to go next and got myself over the rail and onto the outside edge of the pier. Now is a good time to mention that I have a healthy fear of falling off of things. When I was a kid I was terrified of water and the concept of walking on a pier with big gaps in the planks would paralyze me with little kid fear. Now here I am jumping off a pier on purpose… into the ocean? My how things have changed :) I took my time a bit, collected my thoughts, smiled nervously at a few people and then tossed myself into the sea. Everything from there is a blur, it went roughly like this… fall, fall, fall, splash, float up and smile victoriously.
From the water I got to watch Evan take his turn and for the first time I realized how many people had gathered to observe our swim. I also realized just how tall the pier is… I swim next to it all the time but I’m never really thinking too hard about how much pier there is since the only things that concerns me are the pilings at water level since those don’t feel so good on bare skin. Evan took his time a bit, gave us a smile and a quick bicep flex for effect and down he went. All seven swimmers jumped and everybody survived, alright!
Now all that stood to be conquered was a 400m swim back to the beach with some healthy waves at the finish. I swam butterfly with Cathy for a bit and then broke off to take pictures and swim sweep in the back of the group to make sure everyone got in ok. Back on the beach we hung out and had a little potluck meal while enjoying the sunshine. As far as Tuesdays go that was a pretty good one :)