Wednesday, July 12, 2006

First Ocean Swim

Today was a blast. I attended a "introduction to the ocean" clinic hosted by the LA Tri Club and Acme Coaching. It took place at Ocean Park in Santa Monica. The conditions were rather mild, with small waves and warm water (around 70 degrees), perfect for an ocean swim.

Here is a photo of us as we proceed cautiously into the water. I'm the big flash of skin over on the right. I do not have a wetsuit, but I decided to go ahead and brave the elements anyways. Luckily it was not too bad. It was cold at first, but I quickly got used to the water. It also helped that I was pretty excited and was quickly thinking of other things like avoiding the waves and not how cold it was.

I was nver a surfer and never much of a beach person. It has probably been over twenty years since I have been in the ocean. I cannot remember ever actually swimming in the ocean, even as a kid, so this was all very new to me. I noticed that even without a wetsuit I was quite buoyant in the water, and I barely had to tread water at all. This is probably partly because of the salt content in the water. I was quickly reminded of the saltiness of seawater when I got hit with the first wave. But I admit my boyancy is also helped by the fact that I have a large belly and love handles to keep me afloat!

We did not do much actual swimming. Instead we first focused on how to approach the waves. We learned to time the waves and then dive under them when they crash. That was probably the most exciting part of the clinic. I did ok, but I did get hit pretty hard with one wave that almost removed my swimsuit!

After dealing with the waves we moved farther out and practiced sighting and swimming straight. The water was much less choppy than I was expecting, but then again the conditions were pretty mild, so it may not be very representative of what to expect in first Sprint in Santa Barbara. I did get a few mouthfulls of seawater, but nothing too bad.

After swimming around a bit we learned how to get back to the beach without getting crushed by the waves. It was the same basic deal of timing the waves and getting below them. We also practiced body surfing and letting the waves carry us in. That was great fun.

I think the clinic was a great experience. I never had a great fear of the ocean (more out of ignorance than anything else) but the strategies in dealing with the waves is something you might now learn on your own, or at least would have to the learn the hard way, so this was a great introduction.

The icing on the cake was that I won a raffle among the participants for $100 off an Xterra wetsuit. Seeing how I don't have a wetsuit and I have my first tri next month, it couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks to Xterra, Acme Coaching and the LA Tri CLub, you made my day!

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Blogger theseamonster said...

Looks like you had a great introduction to ocean swimming with a great crew to bring you into the fold. Congrats!!

12:13 AM  

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