Sunday, December 29, 2013

What do you think of this news story in Manhattan Beach? Is it a shark?

I saw this story up the coast near Los Angeles and I wondered to myself: Would I swim in it?
Yes, I believe I would.  That water looks beautiful.  And if it is a shark, I'm too big for the thing to eat. 

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Kicking on my Back with Fins

Nice sky and day today but the beach was stirred up with a little chop, a mild wind, and a mild current moving north to south.  Hardly anybody in the water.  No shape to the waves for the surfers.  Not much visibility and the water at 58 seemed colder.
I wasn't planning on swimming today because my back and neck were out of whack again.  Then I decided that the resistance from kicking with my fins would help my back out and give my neck a rest. 

I was supposed to swim with a few people up north at Avila Beach today but I couldn't face getting in the car for the five-hour ride.  I wanted to go and challenge myself with the colder water--56 degrees per  That I can do without a wet suit if my mind is right.     I lay on my back and kicked past the waves and up the beach for 12 minutes and then I turned around and got out at 25 minutes.  The back held up.  I wore the wet suit but it is pretty thin and old so it doesn't make too much difference anyway. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Brief Swim Saturday Late Afternoon--Not all that much fun.

The sun was moving toward its area of descent at about 3:30 PM today.  The sun shone so brightly that it was difficult to see outward from the sand.  There's lots of shimmering water on a day like today. 

We had a little rain two days ago and the water was still stirred up and a bit choppy.  Waves were about one to three feet occasionally.  I got in thinking I would swim out to the end of the pier and back but it didn't turn out that way. 
The area above in the picture had about ten surfers when I was in.  They were happy with a two-foot wave that would give them several seconds of rush.  I went in on the right side (north side) of this pier picture to the tune of about one hundred yards--that is to be courteous and stay out of the territory of the surfers.  My goggles stayed dirty and fogged up as I was swimming out--I guess it's time to throw them away--and I couldn't see well as I swam.  There were two breaks today.  I was out of the surfers' way on my right and left on the first break, but before I hit the bigger break outside I caught sight of two surfers on my right.  I swam left to evade, and one of them caught a wave and headed right toward my head.  I made myself under the surface instantly, and in time, because this fellow wanted to run over my head.  He missed, I got under, and I continued swimming out past the bigger waves. 
I don't really feel anger about it--more of a sadness that a person is feeling and acting out in such a manner.  Anyway, I continue swimming a couple of minutes and I have to stop because I have no air.  I'm feeling tight around my neck and head, constricted, and short of breath.  I decided the heck with it--swim a few minutes and get out.  I didn't even go out far and I only spent twelve minutes in the water.  Let me look up the temperature now: 58-60 per  Sounds accurate.  I guess that's my report for today. 

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Relaxing Swim Oceanside Pier

Today I was ready to swim again.  The conditions were perfect.  Water 57-59 degrees, but felt warmer.  Totally flat out past small, beautiful waves.  Great visibility, very ususual.  I'd say up to twenty feet.  There were scattered surfers enjoying the small waves on the north side and a few dozen enjoying three-foot waves on the south side.  I wore shorts and my warm cap.  I am spoiled with my warm head swimming.  I'm going to have to discontinue that before I can't go in without it. 
The swim out to the end of the pier was 12 1/2 minutes, and the swim in was longer at 16 more minutes.  The tide was very low again but there was a strong undercurrent near the beach.  It slowed me down and actually took an extra effort for me to get through it.  A little kid in that would find himself mixed up in the foamy water above real quick.
"The first time you quit is the last time you try." 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gorgeous Beach, Oceanside Pier, CA (and it's mine)

     I felt very good this morning. When I came downstairs, my wife looked at me a bit surprised and said "That was the fastest you've come down the stairs in a long time."  Apparently I'm in a good phase.  Praise the Lord (and pass the ammunition).

I think this post will look weird.  I'm not a tech savvy kind of guy.  So I go to the beach at noon and get a parking spot right at the sand, as usual.  Same water conditions as yesterday: low tide, flat water, visibility up to fifteen feet in good spots.  Temp 57-59.  No wet suit today but I did wear the neoprene cap.  The water was colder in close for a hundred yards or so but then it warmed up farther out. 
I swam straight out to just past the pier end--it took fourteen minutes--and then turned around and swam in.  Total time 26 minutes.  And I felt good.  Nothing exciting occurred with the exception of two guys who were swimming out to go around the pier.  That's a very rare sighting of human life ocean swimming around here.  I hope nobody else shows up to crowd me out. 
"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Swim North Side of the Pier

Wow. Two days in a row.  Feels good.  I had a different plan today for a swim.  I wore the back support and wet suit, with my dashing yellow neoprene hood.  I even broke out my fins.  The idea was to work on the low back muscles.  I lay on my back and did a relaxed kick out to just past the end of the pier. Fourteen minutes out.  I did a relaxed freestyle in to the sand.  Twenty-two minute swim.  Short but helpful, I think.

Same conditions as yesterday in the water.  Very low tide.  A bit of a southeasterly wind gave a tiny chop to the water.  58 degree water.  Refreshing.
I am thankful when I can get into this beautiful water.  And I am thankful for buoyancy.  I'm always surprised at how few persons there are enjoying the water off-season, but it's better for me.  I savor the solitary swim.  I am hoping for a good body tomorrow.  Tell your mother you love her.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Friday, December 13, 2013

December Swim after 2 1/2 months off

It has been so long since I swam that I have to remember how to do a blog entry.  September 26th was my last swim, I think.  I know that writing about chronic pain is repetitive and pathetic, but maybe some readers are also in a chronic pain situation and can relate.
I got 3 more steroid/anesthetic epidural injections in October--one per week.  I cancelled a fourth because I was too miserable. It doesn't make sense, I know; neither do I.  For some reason I felt OK this morning and had energy and minimal back pain.  Crazy. 
I drove down there and felt some anxiety about getting in cold water, since it has been a while.  The beach was beautiful, with a very low tide, at least six feet of visibility, and one to two foot waves.  No wind, no current, a flat surface, and an overall beautiful day.  The water temp was quoted at 59.  I wore a short-sleeved rash guard tee shirt and jammers shorts with compression underwear under them. I spoiled myself with my neoprene cap which was great.  I actually only swam ten minutes.  Not ready for the cold.  I think it might have been colder than 59.  Maybe not.  Oh, I also wore my elastic low back support.  My back held up fine, I only swallowed one mouthful of water because I forgot how to breathe, and I feel good now.  Maybe I have turned a corner.  And that's my report from fabulous Oceanside, California for today.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


     This cooler weather that we are having now is really calling me to the beach.  I gotta' get there.  The pain keeps me yelping but some magic medicine might make a pier swim possible.  Give me strength (mental) oh swimmer up above.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Still on Dry Land

      It has been a long time again without salt water.  Swimming season is here with the appearance of a fall chill in the air in the mornings and evenings.  It makes me yearn for cold water for some reason.  My back is still a mess.  More shots.  Epidural steroid injection L3-4 right side last Friday and more the next two Fridays.  I've begun to feel like a former ocean swimmer.  (Well, I was never much of one in the first place).

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thursday, Sept 26 Pier Swim Letdown

     I swam at the beach about 2:30 PM today for a total of 18-19 minutes; and it kicked my butt!  The ocean is angry, a little less angry than yesterday, with a chop up to 4 feet.  Today the chop was up to 3 feet but I think instead of steady, constant nonsensical swimming, the swim today was an unpredictable tossing about in the chop.  I did get out farther through the surf, stopping half-way between the bathrooms and the Pier end.  This was for safety today; yesterday it was because I didn't have the fitness to swim around in the rough water.
     Did I say the water was rough?  Yesterday it was difficult to get a breathing system going but today I decided to swim south because I could breathe on the left and make some progress.  I got tired after a little bit and did an arc into the sand.  I hit the sand at the pink vacation hotel and the Tyson Street park.
     I have a swimming fault that I don't look up much before I enter the surf and while I go through the surf.  This afternoon a big, crazy wave just smashed me good and ground me up.  I actually got a scare in me.  Oh well, I am what I am, as Popeye said.  Warm water, about 68 degrees.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Pier Swim Attempt but Crazy Water!

     So what a difference a day can make!  I felt like another trip at the Pier so I drove there at noonish.  The water was very rough, with a chop up to four-feet all over and whitecaps whipped up by a strong, steady wind to the north.
     One surfer tried to surf the mess for ten minutes and moved on to something more fruitful.  I have no idea what they might have been, but just watching the water would have been fun enough.
     The water was warm, probably another 70 degree day; but from the first step into it the waves were throwing me around like nothing.
     Nonetheless, I swam out through the surf zone, through the surf zone, and through the surf some more.  After five minutes I realized that the surf zone was endless today.  What a crazy washing-machine, heavy-duty big chop to the water.  I pulled up three times to see what the heck...eventually I let reason control my actions and I stopped just a little past the bathrooms on the Pier.  There was no way "I" was gonna' get around so I swam back in.  The entire deal was 15 minutes.  It really made me wonder how the long-distance swimmers do it in the rough water--they must have a helluva' powerful kick.
     Anyway, I did have fun.  I'm glad I went, and I'm a fortunate man.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sept 24 Swam the Pier Today

     I went to the Pier early afternoon to look and maybe swim.  Thankfully, I was given a break from severe pain today and got into an incredibly beautiful ocean on an amazing day.  Water temp was warm, approx 70, I'd say.  Air temp was 76.  Blue sky, no crowds, same old boring perfection.  What a day!
     The water was flat, no current, visibility maybe 5 feet.  Great swimming conditions but just very small waves for the surfers.  Actually, the one-foot waves were good for beginning surfers, bad surfers (like me), the aged surfers, and single-digit surfers (aged 0-9).
     It took me 33 minutes to get around the pier.  Since it has been 3 weeks since my skin has felt salt, my stroke was rough.  I didn't want to take pictures, so I didn't.  And that's all I have to say about that.
     On my walk to and from the beach parking lot to the water, I saw: one young woman apparently soliciting money from a family.  I saw two apparently homeless men walking around the pier area with their belongings trailing behind, one very suspicious van where I would bet money that one could purchase some variety of controlled substances, at least one dozen punky, snot-nosed teenagers with skateboards annoying humanity merely by their tattooed, smoky existence.
     Oh, I forgot.  A special appearance was made by the police helicopter that went round and round in circles at about 250 feet, with a voice repeatedly saying things like "Come out of the covered area," come out in the open from the area below." I watched for ten minutes but it kept going. As I drove away close to that area a homeless guy came running in a low crouch up one block and across a street.  My hunch is that this green, bearded, frayed runner was the person sought by the helo above.  "Why?" you ask.  Because when is the last time you saw a homeless guy RUN?  Case solved; suspect eluded capture.  Life went on in Oceanside.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Choppy Water Tuesday. No Go.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Yesterday (Tuesday) I dragged my sorry, tired butt down to the beach with the intention of swimming the Pier.  I failed.  I didn't get in.  No energy, back hurting.  The day was very nice but the water had a 1-2 foot chop to it, I'd estimate.  Just about 8 surfers on the north side. About 6 people playing on the south side.  The 2 footer waves were just dumping in right at the beginning of the sand.  Kinda' strange.
There would also be a set breaking every several minutes out 25 yards or so (very close also)--but not surfable.  Where can I buy some inner life force?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sept 2, 2013 Oceanside Swim Club Labor Day Pier Swim Done!

     We did the swim this morning and it was fun.  The swim was supposed to go off at 8:30 AM but it was delayed by heavy fog.  We went out at about 10:15 AM.  It was still foggy farther out; we couldn't see the big, orange buoys where you turn.  That was a problem for time and direction.  I felt like I would knock off a few minutes from my last time but I was actually about a half-minute faster at 37:12.  The water had a one-foot chop all over.  The water was a bit rough getting out but I don't think it was an issue for most participants.  The back and forth swimming trying to find the buoys was a pain for both buoys.  Also, on the swim in, the young lifeguards sitting on the surfboards as guides were too far north; this added distance to the swim and the run to the finish on the sand was longer.
     The water was chilly but nothing excessive.  I didn't want to bring my camera down to the sand so unfortunately no pictures.  A lovely, nice crowd, a demanding swim, and a new experience.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim Tomorrow

I had to take yesterday off and I think also today due to some serious back pain.  I did get a little bit of a swim streak going there which was good stuff.  However, the last 4 nights were bad, and I've been taking lots of pills, wearing ice packs, TENS unit, and my daily back support.  And all that crap still doesn't work.  With 2 days off I should be ready for a go tomorrow morning.  I need a calm surf zone tomorrow.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Swim. Monday is the Labor Day Pier Swim

No need for photos today--Friday. The water was just like yesterday. 32 minutes around the Pier.  I saw 2 large dolphins far out swimming along relaxing past the surfers.  By the time I got that far out, they were long gone.  I felt great today on my swim--really great.  I think I improved a bit over the last couple of weeks.  Lots of surfers stretched along the beach, with small but nice waves to keep them excited.  Also the last two days were great for new surfers.  I saw some of those.  Surfing is like fishing; you don't have to be good to enjoy it.
Today there were many bands of COLD water and warm water.  The cold was nice.
I don't feel like writing tonight.  Take it for granted that you need to get in the water if you can, even if you are a broken-down old fool like me.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Special Prep Swim Oceanside Labor Day Mile Pier Swim

Thursday was excellent at the Pier. So flat, CLEAN, mellow, no currents, ripples, no nada.  Just a glorious swim.  I did my Pier in 30 minutes.  I never do that.  This was 3 minutes quicker, and the tide wasn't low.  I felt good about my stroke, its efficiency, and my relaxation.  Not many people there-just lucky beachgoers.  The back was medium bad last night, but not horrible.
I have some photos.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Prep Mile Swim for Oceanside Labor Day Pier Swim

I went earlier to the beach today to get a prep swim in for the Labor Day Pier Swim.  I am getting excited about it.  Last night was very painful with my back but ok this morning.  The water was fantastic.  Blue water with the best visibility that I remember for us: approximately 20 feet visibility. Amazing here.  Temp about 61 to 63 degrees per with waves 1-2 feet.  This was a great day for beginning surfers to get out in the prime areas because no surfers were there.
I saw about 8 swimmers going around the pier, probably also getting ready for the feel of the upcoming pier swim.
I have said it before but I'll say it again: This stuff is free folks!  We will now be coming into my favorite fall and winter months when the beach is quiet and barely used except for the surfers.
I was concentrating on my form today, my breathing bilaterally, and stroke efficiency.  My swim time was 33:50.  I knocked 2 minutes off of my swim time.  It was mellow water, though.  But I'll take it.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prep Swim for the Labor Day Pier Swim

I signed up for the Pier Swim on Labor Day.  I'll get some practice swims in to get my wind back.  My back is holding up with the brace.  The water was warm today but kinda' wishy washy back and forth.  I felt like I swam slowly but the time was 36 minutes.  Good visibility at about 10-15 feet.  Beautiful day.  Not many people at the beach.  A success.  It's nice to be able to get there.

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nice Oceanside One Mile Pier Swim

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."

I took the camera but I didn't give a rat's you-know-what for taking photos today.  I parked free (up to 4 hours free) 2 blocks back from the Pier today.  You can't beat that deal with a stick.  The water was lovely, inviting, and comforting.  Probably low sixties, but I got used to it fast: 2 minutes.

I'm wearing that white wide elastic back support every time I swim now and it is helping me so much.  I didn't get extra pain from yesterdays swim, and today's swim will probably just give me a little increased pain.  I wish I had thought of it sooner; my wife bought it for me at a garage sale about 4 months ago.  I have lost some weight and could use the next size down, I think.

So there was not one surfer at the Pier today because the waves were so small.  There was a decent shaped wave every now and then but the real surfers need the big excitement.  By the way, I recently saw that movie :Looking for Maverick's, or something like that, and it was very good.

It is time for the yearly Labor Day Pier Swim; I think I will swim it this year.  Although it pains me to pay $40 to do what I can do for nothing.

My mile Pier swim today was 37 minutes but my wind wasn't great.  I felt slow.  I felt that the water, although flat and calm, was pushing me side to side and slowing me down.  And I didn't have the extra juice to pick up the pace and finish strong.  Oh well.

I love the water.  By that I mean the ocean or the beach.  There is a flushing or cleansing that occurs out there alone that I haven't found anywhere else.  That may be a blog for another day.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

End of Summer Swim South of the Pier Near Wisconsin St

"The first time you quit is the last time you try."


The swim yesterday was 35 minutes in 62-63 degree water.  The water was smooth and beautiful.  So relaxing and weightless.  I can't figure out my computer so the heck with it.  When grren is mixed in with the blue water, as yesterday, Oceanside has a tropical feel to it.