In preparation for my upcoming Maui Channel swim, I have been doing plenty of pool training, but have had little access to open water. Yesterday I went for a 3-hour training swim to remind my body and mind what long swimming feels like. My former club teammate, Serafina, escorted me on her paddle board and we made our way from Marina Del Rey to Santa Monica. The water was colder than I expected it to be and I initially had a difficult time finding any rhythm in my stroke. Because the current was pushing north pretty strongly, we had decided to turn around slightly before halfway to give ourselves enough time to return.
As we rounded the Venice pier, my stroke began to smooth out and remembered why I enjoy ocean swimming. I was flying across the water, with the current pushing me steadily north. I didn’t see any dolphins, but I could hear their songs surrounding me in the grey water. Serafina signaled that we had been swimming for an hour and I stretched out on my back for a few seconds. Two dolphins passed us by on the outside and Serafina told me she had seen several more earlier in the swim. I was still feeling a little chilly at this point and we decided to swim north for 10 more minutes before turning back against the current.
We turned south and I definitely noticed that I was no longer feeling the current giving me a push and instead fought against it with each stroke. We passed the Venice breakwater and stopped to check in for a minute, as the swell was getting larger. We swam back around the Venice pier and made surprisingly good time, even with the current against us. At this point it was clear to me that we would get back to our starting point before the 3-hour mark and would have to swim around a little to fill up the rest of the time. We reached the jetty and swam north again for 10 minutes and back to the jetty to finish the swim. Even though this swim was *only* 3 hours and I have done many swims that are a lot longer, this swim felt very long. In hindsight, this was due to a combination of forgetting to bring food, unexpectedly cold water, and that this was my first long swim of the season. Overall, this was a successful swim and I am grateful to Serafina for meeting me on a random weekday to make this swim happen!