This weekend was busy. I spent 4 hours on my bike on Friday riding just over 63 miles in the freaking mountains and then I spent both Saturday and Sunday morning at the La Jolla Coves practicing a little open water swimming. It was my first time to visit La Jolla for the sole purpose of swimming. Open water swimming is completely different than doing laps in a regular pool. You would think that it would translate over to the ocean, but not entirely.
Saturday was my first time to ever attempt an open water swim. I arrived in La Jolla not knowing exactly where to go. I drove around and saw a life guard stand. I stopped and got out to check the situation. It looked like decently calm waters but there were seals everywhere on the beach and no one swimming. I got back in my car to drive around a little more and finally I found it. There were probably 10-15 swimmers around. Some in wetsuits and some in nothing more than a speedo. Mind you, the water was a mild 57 degrees Saturday morning.
I get prepared to go into the water. I get on my wetsuit (because I’m no dummy) and swim cap and goggles and head down to the water. I put one foot in and lost my breath. It’s cold. Even with a wetsuit, it’s cold. I start heading towards the 1/4 mile buoy because I figured I could handle that. This is when I start feeling things that I’ve felt before. My first triathlon last summer, I had these same feelings. I was short of breath and couldn’t catch it and every time I put my head in the water, I would freak out and would have to immediately come up for air. After about 200m of this, I was able to string together consecutive strokes and make some progress. I turn at the buoy and head back to shore. What really freaked me out was the seaweed that I’d swim into occasionally. At one point, I swallowed a kiddie size pool’s worth of salt water. After I struggled to get back to shore, I was relieved but I wanted to do it again because I knew it could only get better.
Sunday, I get up and do the same routine. I got my coffee and headed down to La Jolla… maybe a 30 minute drive. Once I arrive, conditions are perfect and the water is a warmer 58 degrees. I get on my wetsuit and meet a man and woman that were about to head out. He asked if I wanted to join and of course I said yes because I had no idea how today was going to go. We started off and I got that feeling again of shortness of breath but this time it didn’t last nearly as long. We headed in a different direction too and we stopped for a moment and I asked where we were going. We were going to the half-buoy. That’s a half mile there and a half mile back rather than the 1/4 mile buoy where going to it and back equaled 1/4 of a mile. Once I was aware of it, I felt fine. I found my pace and just went at it. Nothing spooked me (not even the seaweed I’d occasionally hit). I was feeling great. We stop at the 1/2 mile and chit chat for a moment and finally head back. At that moment, my wetsuit was beginning to chafe the back of my neck but it didn’t bother me too much. Half way back to shore, I stop and look around and come to the realization as to what I was doing. I was swimming… in the ocean… without much else to worry about other than not drowning. It was very cool and then I saw something even cooler. To my left, I saw a seal about 10ft from me surfacing every second with a fish in his mouth. It was quite an awesome moment.
I got back on dry land and unzipped my wetsuit. My neck was burning by this time. It hurt so bad. Raw skin with the help of salt water to really set it on fire. I hit the showers immediately to rinse myself and my wetsuit off. Today was so much better in the water and I felt way more comfortable. I was really pumped once I was dry and over looking where I just swam. I can’t wait to do it again… this time with my GoPro!