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.

this is higher than I thought...

...I'm not sure this was the best idea ever...

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.

Niel setting the standard

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.

Dale dropping!

Ed is away!

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.

Sylvia taking a moment to collect herself before leaping

Cathy went next and stood on a higher piece of railing and launched herself. She won for the most photogenic leaper of the day.

If Cathy had a helmet and a spear I would swear this is a shot from the movie 300

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.

wait... why the hell would I jump off a pier!?!

oh yeah, because it's dumb and fun :) - photo by Ruta

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!

Evan half in half out

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 :)

and now we swim home!

4 Responses to “Free Falling into 2013”

  1. [...] Rob Aquatics [...]

  2. IronMike says:

    Why the feined secrecy? Are you not supposed to swim in the winter? Or was it the “falling off the pier” that you’re not supposed to do? If you guys had gone in the water from the beach, no problem, yes?

    I’m still so jealous of you guys with your year-round access. Almost went for a New Year’s dip, but the 44 degree water scared me off. Scared everyone off for that matter.

  3. Rob D says:

    Mike – we can swim all day everyday if we want, it’s the gravity induced entry that’s sort of a problem. There are signs saying no diving all over the pier, but in fairness we jumped feet first… totally different right? :)

  4. Josh N says:

    Looks like fun but I am waaaayy to chicken to do that!
    Caps off to you!