My tri buddy and I signed up for the Santa Cruz Mermaid sprint tri. We've been wanting to try an ocean swim and figured this one would be a nice short introduction, being just a 400 yard swim. Just so we weren't *completely* unprepared, we headed down to the swim route today to check out our swim skills in the ocean.
Let me just get this out of the way up front....I was a *bit* freaked out about the idea of swimming out there. I know, I know, I'm a diver. I should be used to 'swimming' in the ocean. Um, yeah, not the same thing AT ALL. I've only been diving in clear, warm areas. Think tropical. Hawaii, Aruba, Australia, Palau. Toasty spots.
So with much trepidation I met T at Seascape State Beach and we suited up to hit the water. The thing that stood out the most as we walked down the stairs (yes, stairs. and yes, we'd be expected to 'run' up these same stairs during the tri.) was that although there were quite a few people on the beach there was not a soul in the water. Hmm. I'm liking this less and less. The icing on the cake tho was as we approached the place where we were going to start, a bunch of folks were staring off into the water and pointing and chatting. We look but don't see anything. Until a bunch of fins surface. FAB.U.LOUS. A school of sharks I say, only half joking. Of course they were dolphins, but it only reinforced the fact that many things larger than I were circling out there. Oh, but wait, we've all heard those stories where the dolphins protected the people from sharks, right? Uh, right? Just patronize me here, okay. :-)
Okay, let's get it over with. I know I'm going to be eaten. Or at least come back with missing parts.
As we dip our toes in we confirm that it *is* in fact cold. But the further we get in, the more I realize it's not as cold as I expected. Soon enough we're swimming out towards the buoy where we would turn around.
The remains of a cement boat, the Palo Alto, are permanently anchored off the end of the pier and as we passed by it and stopped to discuss the *unique* experience we were having, we saw some BIG round eyes looking back at us. Sea lions. Awww, how cute. "Here little fella" I said as T yelled "NO!" Turns out a surfer friend of hers got bit by one. Oh great, now I'm freaked out even more.
Visibility was nil, water was nasty and super salty. On the positive side, buoyancy was amazing. I could 'tread' water without even having to kick my feet much. Fighting the waves was tiring though and I kept thinking I saw shadows below me. Now I could barely see my hand in front of me let alone anything lurking below. But that in itself was a bit disconcerting.
It was a quick swim, just around the short course and then we hopped out. Finishing up I realized that the temperature wasn't as bad as I expected, the freak out factor was about as bad as I expected, and the saltiness was just plain nasty and worse than I expected. But I still had all my limbs. Generally, I think I prefer to stick to rivers, lakes and reservoirs. :-)
We did a bike tour of the course and after T took off I did a quick tour of the run course. All in all, I'm not that thrilled with the course. The roads are in really crappy shape, there's a steep downhill with a sharp right turn at the bottom of it, there's really no scenery as the course runs through a bunch of neighborhoods instead of somewhere along the coast. All in all, it's a course I probably won't need to repeat. After the actual tri that is.