So I know you are probably getting tired of hearing about my swims at this point, but here is one more blog about a training swim. Today I headed down to Cabrillo Beach with my friend Jax to be my kayaker. Cabrillo is known to have some of the coldest water in Los Angeles County, perhaps because it faces South rather than West, and I wanted to take advantage of the water temperature for my training. It is also a little over two miles from the beach to LA Light, which makes this an ideal training location.
We got to the beach around 6am and were in the water by 6:30. After wading through a ton of nasty seaweed and passing the surfline, Jax and I made our way out to the “polar bear” buoy to begin the swim. The thermometer on the buoy read 60 degrees, which made sense because I was feeling significantly warmer than I had in the 54 degree San Francisco water.
I followed Jax around the breakwater and tried to find my stroke in bumpy water. At the first feed, Jax pointed out that not only were we dealing with the normal ocean swell, but also the chop caused by the water rebounding off the breakwall. jax also told me that my stroke rate was 61 (which is good and normal for me) and that I looked strong. As we continued to swim toward the lighthouse, I kept thinking that the pelicans on the breakwall were people cheering me toward my goal. The light flashed green and the fog horn sounded every few seconds, calling me toward the turnaround point. I took my second feed at the lighthouse and marvelled in its beauty, while wishing I had a camera to document the image.
Throughout the next half hour heading back to the beach, my stroke grew more rhythmic and the water felt smoother in this direction. I was singing songs in my head, which helped me get in the right frame of mind and zone out a little, as I moved through the water. I was surprised at how strong I felt, considering that I had just raced Alcatraz the day before. As we neared the jetty, the LA City lifeguard tower where I often work became visible when I breathed to my right. We got back to the “polar bear” buoy and Jax told me that it had taken me an hour and five minutes to reach the lighthouse but only 57 minutes to return to the beach.
We turned back to start our second lap and I was still feeling strong and confident, even though my left arm could have been digging a little deeper to hold water. Jax told me to sprint to get through an area with a particularly strong current and i rounded the corner still heading for the lighthouse. We passed a few shipping boats and another kayaker and turned around at the lighthouse to complete our second lap. During the next half hour my arms were starting to ache but at the 3.5 hour feed, Jax suggested that I spring for 15 minutes to simulate my English Channel swim. I began to swim hard and upped my stroke rate to 65 (Jax told me later) until I had passed the Jetty. While heading from the jetty to the “polar bear” buoy, Jax and I spotted several large dolphins and one even swam underneath me! I sprinted the last 100 yards to the buoy making Jax laugh because my stroke rate hit 75 this time and we headed to the beach to finish the swim.
This training swim was a very good confidence builder for me because I showed myself that I could perform even after a weekend of heavy training. I am so grateful to jax for supporting me and helping me reach for my goals. I look forward to continuing to build my training and see what I can accomplish.