Saturday, July 23, 2011

Avila Beach Pier Swim Saturday

I'm visiting in San Luis Obispo and stopped by Avila Beach early this afternoon to check out the swimming there.  I looked around for Rob, but as I am totally unfamiliar with the place I didn't see him.  Since kids were playing in the water, I figured the water was warm enough to swim it in trunks.  I had looked the temperature up on and it said it was 59 degrees.  Not bad.  I think it may have been warmer than that.  I decided just to swim around the short Avila Pier since it was new to me.
The water was calm.  I got used to it in a few minutes.  I was surprised to see that visibility was lousy, almost nonexistent, and cloudy.  
The scenery at Avila is great!  Parking is a chore.  I didn't bring any cash but I got a free spot out on the main road very close to the beach.
I saw one black seal close in to the beach but it didn't come near me as I swam, as far as I know.  I just swam out on the south side, then around and back in on the north side.  No fins or cap, just goggles.  I'm guessing the swim was about one-third of a mile, maybe one-half mile max.  Uneventful but enjoyable.  I couldn't find my camera so no pictures.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim One Mile Training Swim

for entry see
I had a great training swim tonight at about 6:15 PM.  The sky was overcast but the water was warm.  Very few people in the water.  There was little to no chop so the swimming was nice.  I felt good and put out a strong effort throughout the swim.  There was no current to deal with at all so I concentrated on my form and technique.  I did the pier in about 35 minutes, which is good for me. Oh, by the way, that guy standing on the water in the second and fifth pictures above isn't Jesus;  it was just a stand-up-paddler looking bored.

What Do You Think About While You Swim?

So, this guy with whom I swam a few times several months ago asked me, "What are you thinking about when you swim?"  I thought a few seconds and replied, "Nothing much."
"No, really, what do you think about?" he repeated.  Well, I thought longer about my time swimming and came up with, "Well, I used to think about getting eaten by sea monsters about every two minutes for a long time."  "What?" he asked.  "You know, I couldn't stop worrying about sharks, and I would obsess that I would get bitten by a big one every minute." 
"Oh, I don't worry about that," he said.  'Baloney,' I thought to myself.  Everybody has to think about that from time to time.  It's scary out there sometimes.  Actually, when I started swimming seriously in the ocean years ago, I DID obsess about sharks.  I couldn't STOP thinking about the imminent shark bite to the hip or thigh, truly every two minutes throughout my swims.  At home, I would quickly turn the channel on the TV when one of those frequent shark documentaries appeared. 
When I bumped into a clump of kelp abruptly on a swim, my heart would almost skip a beat as I scared myself half to death.  When I saw the flash of a dolphin, I would think "shark" first for an instant.  And harbor seals ducking and popping up nearby-they gave me a reason for fright. 
But back to his question.  After some years of swimming, I got more serious about the "swimming" part of the swim and less aware of the underlying "deadly sea life" aspect of the swim.  I studied up on the basics of the freestyle stroke.  Back in the day when I learned to swim and to be a swim instructor, I learned about the "reach, pull, and push" of the arm stroke.  I learned of the need for high elbows and rotation of the shoulder using the large muscles of the shoulder and back to decrease arm fatigue.
I learned that the body should lie horizontally in the water with the head looking forward while the water strikes the forehead.  That was proper body positioning for freestyle.
The legs would rest slightly below the surface of the water and when the flutter kick was done, the feet would break the water surface, aiding propulsion. 
I was taught about the body's "natural buoyancy," and I believe that this topic is the number one "most important" part of swimming and water safety.  I learned "Archimedes Principle," that the body HAS to float-well, provided that the lungs are not full of water, that is. 
And it's easier to float in salt water than fresh water, because the salt water is heavier, and thereby exerts a stronger buoyancy effect on the swimmer.
And breathing.  Is anything more critical to the success of the swimmer than the ability to breathe in a relaxed, effective manner.  Think about the rotation of the head to the side, not lifting the head to tire out the muscles of the neck and shoulders.
Well, to answer his question, these are the things that I think about now while I swim.  I'm trying to increase my efficiency and speed.  I'm trying to relax and make my stroke longer and more efficient.  And the kick-doggonit, the kick is such a difficult part of the swim, isn't it?  I think about that one a lot while I swim.
So, sharks be damned, and kelp-you don't scare me anymore.  I'm trying to swim, dammit, and I don't have time to be afraid of sea monsters.  How about you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

21 Area Beach Swim After Work

Mr. M and I went to 21 Area and the water was a warm 70 degrees.  The beach is a bit rough and choppy outside.  This was just a feeling-out swim for the beach to get accustomed to the water there.  There is a small white buoy about 150 yards out that we eased our way out to and then we took our time coming in.  It's such a nice, wide, sandy beach that it's neat just to laze around there.
Sometimes there's things like in this picture out there that can distract one from one's swimming objectives, though. We just have to hang in there and persevere.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Low Tide Oceanside Pier Swim

The 71 degree water makes me lazy.  I swam slowly in a one-foot chop from south to north.  I studied the water for a while trying to figure out the current.  Lots of red flags were out by the lifeguards indicating inside currents but the distant current was difficult to figure.  The breeze was south.  I ended up swimming north and got it correct.  I stopped at the end of the pier and there was no current at all off the end of the pier.  Then a slight north movement inside as I came in.  I found some sea shells with the low tide.  It was a nice day out there today.  My training for the Pier swim is moving along ok.

Kayak Oceanside Harbor

I did a swim with my daughter kayaking in the Oceanside Harbor area Sunday afternoon.  Warm water again, and a beautiful day.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rip Currents Oceanside CA

The lifeguards were on alert this evening when I arrived at 6 PM at the beach at Surfrider Way, a couple of hundred yards north of the pier. There were red flags with "rip current" signs along the beach. I studied the water thinking about which direction to swim. The muddy, dirty area at Surfrider often has rips, and there is a lifeguard station there. The rip current is a strong flow or current of water north or south. The rip tide is due to a low sand area under the water where water from breaking waves on the beach finds a low spot and follows it out to sea again. It can pull you out to sea. The rip tide can be seen by observing the water for a dstinctly different surface appearance-an uneven, bubbly, muddy patch of water perpendicular to the shore.
Saturday evening the wind was blowing south, the surface of the water was moving south, and I decided to swim that way. The first hundred yards or so out from Surfrider was rough heading out because of the north current but as I got out to the distance at the end of the pier there was a gentle south current that helped me swim along southward. Then, swimming in was rough again; I didn't feel a rip current but I felt that I had to swim hard to pull myself in.
The tide was low. Perhaps there was a tide shifting slightly. Who knows. The ocean is a mystery-powerful and ever-changing. I looked at a couple of sailboats moving north and they both had their front sails down; I think it was because they were heading into the wind.
It was warm, 71 degree water, but lousy visibility. Stirred up all the way. Silty. I'm improving and had the energy to run back along the beach to where I started from. A tough, good swim evening.