18 mile solo during Shark Week

For my last long training swim before tapering in anticipation of the English Channel, I made a plan – together with the help of friends – to swim from Cardiff to Pacific Beach. My goal was to swim for 8 hours total, which together with the projected distance (18 miles), it would be my longest swim to date.

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Semana Nautica 6mi Event x2

We took a medium-long swim in Ventucky on Saturday.  Visitors and locals were out in abundance for Pirate Days and the Surf Rodeo, so we decided to start from the Fairgrounds and lap around at the Harbor.  Quite a bit of chop, some currents, and no sun.  Surfers were out in gloves and booties; all I had was a Jolyn two-piece.  It was good day.

Then on Sunday, we cruised up to Goleta (Santa Barbara) for the Semana Nautica 6 mile event.  There were 45-entrants, several I knew and others I was excited to meet, mostly from the Ventura/Laguna open water swimming circles.  We would race from Goleta Park to Arroyo Burro Beach in a route that took us out deep as the coastline created a bay.  Initially, it looked like a beautiful day.  I was excited to swim roundtrip.

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T-minus 6weeks

Aside

6 weeks, approx 250miles of swimming, and countless hours of preparation remain until I leave for England.

Thank you very much to everyone who has donated already. While Channel swims are costly ventures, it only takes $1000 to send a young adult cancer patient/survivor like me on an outdoor adventure with First Descents. Last year, I gave $2000 to Team FD. My goal is to at least match that this year, but I think we can do better.

Time to light a fire on #OutLivingIt.

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SCAR Arizona Challenge 2013

4 days, 40miles of swimming in the Arizona desert.

4 days, 40miles of swimming in the Arizona desert.

Day 1: Awesome start, except my support kayak sank… played catch-up for 10 miles.

Day 2: 25mph crosswinds led to the best-surprise-finish-ever.

Day 3: “Are we there yet?” Longest swim to-date.

Day 4: First night swim, ever. Thank goodness for clear goggles.

The moral of the story? Lots of firsts; couldn’t have asked for a more amazing group of swimmers and volunteers; do not underestimate fresh water; and remember to eat.

Would I do it again? Heck YES.

Destination swim: Mission Bay to La Jolla

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Saved the best adventure for last and couldn’t have made it without my athletic trainer, Brian Finn.  Swimming north against the current, I had an audience at the Crystal Pier, discovered how Bird Rock got its name (also where Brian lost his car keys in the washing machine that it is…), and zinc couldn’t save me from an epic set of cap/goggle lines.  Unfortunately or not, nothing more than sea grass was encountered.

Now it’s taper time and in one week we’re onto England.

“Does the Hotel del have a jacuzzi?”

Whoever said that Coronado has the coldest water in the county is correct.  This morning I joined a group of swimmers who will be doing the English Channel in August.  We met at the head lifeguard tower just before 7am and the plan was to swim laps between the Navy barriers at North Island and the Silver Strand.  

But one toe in the water and BRRRR.  Underweight and evident.  Though even Dave and Cindy complained of the “once familiar bite.”  Half kidding, I tossed out the idea of sneaking into Hotel del.  It was too early for such thoughts and dismissed, beginning our swim.

We stayed parallel to the shore and my body felt better than it had during my 6 hour swim back in April, but our paces weren’t matching, my feeds were on land, and fearful of swimming to Mexico, I wanted a kayaker.  Cold and frustrated, the heat was on in my car by 8:30am.  Next time, soon, I’ll come better prepared.

But no swim with this group ends without a highlight or two.  First, Cindy found the “Vegas of sand dollars.”  And why?  Because they thrive in cold water.  Never have I seen so many and so large, lined up like piano keys…  ”She’s a Naturalist,” Dave said as Cindy went diving.

And then, in only 5 feet of water, angled towards shore, a dark body shot beneath me, moving fast.  Startled, I lifted my head.  Dave had seen it too.  A dolphin.  And then we heard the whistles.  The rest of the pod followed, only an arms reach to my left, maybe six of them.  In pure admiration, we turned to watch as they surfaced a few feet away.  They were on their own journey and all the more reason I want a goPro for mine.