Date: Tuesday March 15th, 2011
Air Temperature: 65 degrees F
Water Temperature: 53.1 degrees F
Weather: Sunny and windy
Waves: 3.9 ft
Today’s scheduled swim is a 6000 yard Pool swim, that doesn’t pan out, we get a call saying that the Pool Heater is broken and the pool is closed.
Last night I checked out the San Francisco Bay area and water temperature, the temperature is currently 52-53 degrees, I read that the currents are very strong and there is alot of sea life including sea lions, porpoises and as the stories tell sharks.
San Francisco Bay is a shallow productive estuary through which water drains from approximately 40% of California, where water flowing in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers from the Sierra Nevada Mountains enters the Pacific Ocean. The water way entrance to the San Francisco Bay Area ( often simply ” the Bay Area”) from the Pacific Ocean is called Golden Gate. Across the strait spans the Golden Gate Bridge.
I get the strong sense that another few ocean swims before my Friday Golden Gate swim would be very helpful. With that in mind Robbin and I hit the road again for Santa Barbara, there is no organised “Ocean Ducks “swim today, I plan to swim at Goleta Beach Solo.
We arrive at the beach, there is no group swim scheduled but as we are getting out of the car Pedro a swimmer who swam yesterday pulls up beside us, he rolls down his window and says Hi, ” I have a meeting today so no swim for me, the waves are big and the strong wind has made the water cooler today and the current is stronger” Then he rolls up his window and is gone!
The good news is the air temperature is warmer today, I change in the bathrooms and Robbin slops baby oil on my back and shoulders, ” How much?” she asks….” Pour it on ” I reply, “I want all the help I can get.”
She walks me down to the water and we hug ” See you in a few” I say, ” I’ll wave when I am turning around”
|The Pier Goleta Beach
I make my way down to the waters edge and walk into the surf, it doesn’t take long for a wave to nudge me into diving in, the surf is noticeably larger than the last few days.
I am off, fast stroking arms, NO West Coast Tim to swim alongside, NO training crew kayak beside me, NO East Coast Tim on a paddle board navigating me, BUT I have my sister watching me from the beach, it makes me feel secure, we have talked about what to do if she sees me in distress or I disappear…
” should I come in”, ” Absolutely not” I say, “stay on the shore, stay safe and call for help”….she does not look comforted by this, but I need her word she won’t try to come in after me, I get it.
I swim out, I want to make sure I am not picked up and crashed into the shore by the heavy surf, the waves are random, they are not consistently breaking at the same spot. Today my goggles fog and somehow I have managed to get sand stuck to the outside of them, I ignore it and focus on relaxing and what feels good, long strong strokes down to the far end of the beach. I know I am getting close to the turn around.
The far end is a vacant space, no car parking spots, no friendly grassy area to sit, no kids playing, no people enjoying walking on the beach, just a desolate rocky area, secluded and remote.
Close to the turn around there is Kelp, I remember that from yesterday, that and the warm water are a sign it is nearly time to turn around, I sight and see the shadow on the cliff, that is West Coast Tim’s turn around point, I pop my head up and wave…is that my sister, I am not sure, I wave again and then put my head back down and stroke towards the pier. I hit some kelp, it jolts me when I knock into it, seaweed tangles around my legs and I kick a little harder to break free from it, anytime I feel something I am trying not to react, ” stay relaxed” I tell myself….” Long Strokes, Long Strong Strokes, just you and the ocean, no one else is here” , as I am telling myself this I see something below me, large, grey and oval, or is it a circular, it seems to be floating below me, I am mesmerized by it, I keep swimming just as I have trained my primitive brain to do, no alarms, no knee jerk reactions to what I am seeing below…and then it is gone, what was it?, a sting ray? I am not sure but it was mystical with an Erie beauty to it.
‘Home James”, I continue on towards the Pier, I am off and very happy to be swimming towards the land mark at the other end of the beach, the Pier is great to sight it is long and large and easy to see from the water, I am excited to wrap up this training swim, I have a double order of Sushi waiting for me on the beach that we bought before the swim and I am HUNGARY.
It seemed to be such a quick trip down to the far end of the beach, the return trip seems to be taking longer!
I am half way back, I recognise the sculpture on the beach, it is spinning in the wind, not long to go now, I put my head down and pull hard with my arms, 50 strong strokes, I breath to my left towards the beach and there is the same sculpture! I am in exactly the same place, I haven’t moved an inch!
” The current must be strong”, I say to myself, ” Time to step it up” , I do and also notice I am being pulled out towards the open sea, I redirect and drive straight into the shore.
I get closer to the shore and begin to get excited ” Body Surfing Wahoo!!!”, I get to body surf into the shore, I love body surfing. I can’t wait. But not these babies, they are too big & intense for that, the first wave picks me up, I stroke fast riding the wave with my body ready to surf into shore….. I AM WRONG, the wave crashes me into the sand , then drags me back out ready for the next wave to take a turn at the ” Swimmer Smack Down”!
The next wave wins again, I am thrashed into the sand like a rag doll and once more getting dragged out, “RIGHT THAT’S IT” I say to myself, “No more glamorous ocean exit, no surf play today, THIS IS WAR, wave # 3 is not going to win, I am taking the next round.”
Wave # 3 picks me up, I stroke hard…but I am ready for it, as it crashes me down to the sand I firmly plant my feet on the landing, the wave pulls against my body, trying to pull me back out to seas but I drive my thighs forwards and pull with my arms towards the beach…I MAKE IT!
I walk up out of the water up the beach, I am completely covered in sand in and outside of my suit. I air punch with my fist and walk towards Robbin and the outdoor shower. I rinse off and change in the bathrooms, then jump in the mini, it is toasty warm from the sun, Robbin and I sit in the mini for a bit.
” What do you think the temperature was?” , Robbin asks, ” 52.9″ I reply, she looks up the current temp on her blackberry, ” Nope 53.1 ” she says. EXCELLENT, I am most pleased, no slurred speech and minimal body shaking, although Robbin tells me I asked her the temperature of the water 5 times while I was warming up!
We grab our Sushi and lay on the beach, the sand was deliciously warm, it was like lying on an electric blanket and soon I was toasty warm and feeling quite content.
What’s up next…San Francisco Bay, I am beside myself with excitement! How will things go…I’ll keep you posted!
|Post swim: Toasting it up on the Beach