The 2014 OWS race season was a big one for me; I had set the goal of swimming the Semana Nautica 10K in July and knew that I needed a lot of miles in the bank! I swam most of the races that I could conveniently get to; here’s a roundup:
Nadadores 2.4 Mile Rough Water Swim – May 17th
Boy, do the fasties show up for races in Orange County, my 1:01 got me last place in AG!
Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point is a stunning setting for a race. The water was 62 degrees, and the visibility was great. Very well-organized race, with a lot of fast swimmers (winning time was 44 minutes). I highly recommend this early-season race.
Event website: http://www.nadadoresroughwaterswim.org/w/
Santa Monica Pier Paddle – June 7th
A great local race, almost every swimmer friend I know does this. We got lucky with conditions this year. Last year, 12 foot surf wreaked havoc on the womens’ wave. No such drama this year.
It’s only a mile. I find that if I try to “sprint” a race like this, I end up swimming slower. Came in at 31:03, but I attribute that time to that silly 200 yard run up the soft sand to finish.
Event website: http://www.pierpaddle.com/
Seal Beach Rough Water Swim – June 14th
The first 5K of the season! A single loop around a martini glass shaped course in Seal Beach Harbor.
The organizers highly recommend a kayaker escort, and my friend Alicia graciously offered to kayak. Sighting is awful in this race … I can see why they recommend a kayaker. Alicia and I didn’t find each other until about halfway through the race, I guess we should have discussed our plan before the race started!
Did a 1:27, which I was really happy with. Felt great afterwards, so I just jumped in and did the 1 mile race that followed. Definitely doing this next year, but I think I’ll wing it without a kayaker.
Semana Nautica 5K – July 6th
The final tuneup before the 10K the following week. I love this race, and I love the cold water up in Santa Barbara. The sun was shining very bright that morning, so the race organizers were nice enough to switch the direction of the course so that we wouldn’t get blinded.
Told myself to take it easy because I was swimming the 10K a week later, but I felt great and ended up swimming my fastest 5K in 1:22!
Event website: http://semananautica.com/
Semana Nautica 10K – July 13th
The big one! Everything had been leading up to this. We were piling on some nutty mileage at our Tower 26 Wednesday beach workouts, so I knew that I had the miles in the bank. Yes, coach Gerry, I love triple circuits! June was a > 30 mile swimming month, and July was on track to hit 35 miles. I was ready.
My good friend Chris Georges offered to kayak for me. Tom joined us for the road trip and helped get the car from the start to the finish – logistics are important.
I opened with what I later saw was my fastest open water mile, even though I felt like I was taking it easy. Chris and I had agreed on doing the first feeding an hour in. I had my Garmin set to auto-lap every mile, so I knew when I was approaching an hour.
The conditions were amazing, we got lucky. 68’ish degree water, and a gentle swell. Amazing visibility. Got to see a lot of fish and beautiful kelp forests. Chris kayaked slightly ahead of me to carve out a path through the kelp.
Felt great throughout, skipped the last feeding and finished up in 2:37.
The course was .4 miles short of 6 miles, so I did what any self-respecting swimmer would do and went out and swam another half mile. There was no way in hell I was gonna let that day pass and not actually swim 10K.
Little known fact: I missed the World Cup Final for this race.
Event website: http://semananautica.com/
Dwight Crum Pier to Pier – August 3rd
Pier to Pier is a fixture on the Los Angeles swimming calendar and one of the top 10 open water races in the US. This is another race that everyone does, it was great to hang out with friends and later talk about all the great white sharks hanging out along the swim course.
The race is 2 miles from the Hermosa Pier to the Manhattan Beach Pier. The winner this year swam it in 37 minutes – I just can’t fathom how that’s possible.
What I love most about this race is the chaos of the mass start. We practice mass starts every Wednesday, I love them. Nothing like trying to round that first buoy with 500 of your best friends.
Sighting this race is trickier than it should be, so I swim the course a few times beforehand to practice it. Finished in 57 minutes, and didn’t get tumbled by the surf at the end … it’s the little things.
Event website: http://www.surffestival.org/Swim/SwimIndex.html
Ocean Park Bandit 5K’ish Swim
Without a doubt, the crown jewel of the Los Angeles open water race calendar!
We’d always joked about organizing a race, and this was it! Joined about 30 people to swim a course from Tower 26, south to Venice and around Tom “The Human Buoy” Hiel, North to Casa del Mar, and back.
So much fun, thinking seriously about turning this into a summer race series next year!
I already signed up to do the Bridge to Bridge 10K in San Francisco, and will definitely do the La Jolla Rough Water Swim now that it’s back on. A Catalina relay is also in the works! And, of course, the Ocean Park Bandit Swim!