Race Report: Gatorman 2015

La Jolla is such a gorgeous place to swim and play. My stay in town this time was very brief, but it was packed with incredibly enjoyable things.

I considered changing from Gatorman to the women’s 1-mile race, but decided against it because I found a yoga studio I wanted to try. Trilogy Sanctuary is a rooftop yoga studio and vegan restaurant with amazing workouts and a creative and tasty brunch menu. I had savory buckwheat crepes, followed by an hour-long challenging, focused and serene yoga class.

Got to the cove just on time to register for the race, and the usual festival was already full-on, complete with tacos, t-shirts, and a Jolyn trunk show on Girard Avenue. This is pretty much the only race in which I’ve been surrounded by people wearing Jolyn two-piece suits, and I hope more open water swimmers try them–they stay put, are extremely comfortable (especially restroom-wise) and come in lots of crazy colors for mix-and match.

The conditions for the race were stunning: 72-degree water (a tad too warm for me), tropical fish, exciting kelp, the whole shebang. As usual, I waited for the mob to charge and started swimming a couple of minutes after everyone else. Pretty soon I was alone, enjoying the natural underwater scapes and sighting on the pier. Visibility was terrific, which was good but also frustrating, as one could see the pier well and for a long time it didn’t seem to come closer. 🙂

The turnaround was surprisingly difficult, but after I turned the corner I could easily spot the condo building on the other side. Fearful that I would lose my way (I always misnavigate this course) I sighted every six strokes!

I was disappointed and frustrated that the race policy had changed. It used to be the case that they’d let you finish even if you didn’t make it within their 1:45 cutoff time. At exactly 3:15, a motorboat ended up next to me and ordered me out of the water, citing “safety” as their boilerplate reason. I was perfectly fine, healthy, and not tired, and at that point was right next to the quarter-mile marker; it would take me ten minutes to finish swimming the course. Nonetheless, they would not let me do it – they put me on the boat, propelled me about 300y forward, and allowed me to swim the last 100y.

Part of me was boiling with anger and humiliation, but on the walk back to the hotel and in the shower I managed to cool off my temper. After all, the race *did* have a cutoff time, and even though in previous years it was not enforced I didn’t have some right to swim. These guys were probably following orders and it didn’t occur to them that they were ruining my experience–they were dealing with lots of people that day. And in the grand scheme of a well-lived life, I got to visit a beautiful place, eat terrific food, take a wonderful yoga class, and swim a world-class course under perfect conditions, so the unpleasantness at the end should (and eventually did) pale in comparison.

Nonetheless, the experience of being ordered out of the water was unpleasant enough that, if I go back to La Jolla next year, I’ll register for the 1-miler.