This was the third year I traveled to San Diego to swim the La Jolla Rough Water Swim. The first time I swam the 1-mile, and the next two, I swam Gatorman, a 3-mile course from La Jolla Cove to Scripps Pier and back.

In terms of endurance and effort, it’s not a hard swim. It’s a mere 5k, the water is in the high 60s, and it is absolutely beautiful; lots of interesting kelp and colorful fish.

What keeps getting me every year is the sighting. The chop and swells make it impossible to see the turning point from the water, and on the way back I always end up swimming too much inside the course, which brings me close to La Jolla Underwater Park. Here’s a slideshow of the views to a beautiful mezzo opera (combining two of my favorite things):

I don’t know why the sighting is so tricky, but I may have sighted better this time than last year, finishing in 1:56 rather than 2:04.

Aspiring Gatorpeople may like some recommendations. We like to stay at Scripps Inn or at La Jolla Shores,  have a beautiful brunch at Cody’s, and enjoy gorgeous, healthful, locally-sourced Mexican food at Puesto. The San Diego Zoo is lots of fun, as are Balboa Park museums.

Summer 2014 Initial Thoughts

For my 40th birthday, I want to do something special and fun, openwaterwise. Here are three things I’m considering:

Crossing the Catalina Channel (21 miles). That entails a boat – either the Outrider or the Bottom Scratcher – and swimming at night in 65-degree water.

Swimming from Isla de la Plata in Ecuador to Manta (15 miles). I’ve emailed Ivan Enderica Ochoa, the Ecuadorian open water swimmer who swam the 10k at the London Olympics, and will start thinking about how to put this in motion.

Swim the Suck in Tennessee – 10 miles in beautiful scenery. Registration opens Jan 2014; I hope I get in!

Two Alcatraz Swims!

Last week I swam two Alcatraz crossings – the first with WaterWorldSwim, and the second, the Alcatraz Invitational, with my new club, the South End Rowing Club.

I registered for the latter months ago, because I auctioned two swims for students at the Hastings Public Interest Law Foundation auction last year. I decided to swim Alcatraz on Saturday as well as Sunday because I heard through a friend that the East Oakland Swim Club was trying to get people of color and friends (I would, of course, be “and friends”) to swim open water, and desegregating this sport has always been very important to me. It’s a huge issue in swimming, and particularly problematic when one keeps in mind that many low-income folks of color live in places in which not knowing how to swim truly endangers lives. It was especially amazing to escape from Alcatraz with folks who cared about reversing this sad trend, because Alcatraz itself, in its heyday, was a segregated prison.

The swim on Saturday was incredibly fun. I made new East Bay friends and met more new friends on the boat, many of them from the UK and Australia. I swam butterfly most of the way, save for a few hundred yards when I was chided by a kayaker that I needed to “gain some distance” and make it through the shipping channel on time. So, I can’t count this as an all-butterfly swim, but I’m still chuffed to have made it in 1:08. The secret was to go obscenely slow and let the salt water help with undulation and buoyancy.

And the swim on Sunday was also marvelous. My students are so fast! Especially Lacey, who is an experienced and avid water polo player, who ended up coming in second in the non-suits division with an amazing time of 37 mins. I think Lacey has caught the open water bug and will continue to shine in OW racing from now on, and I hope to have a chance to swim far behind her and cheer for her! Emily and Cliff also did very well. I was still a bit tired from the butterfly effort the day before, so I came in at 57 mins, and was happy as a clam to see everyone on the other side!

Another fun wrinkle was taking a gorgeous gym bag prototype with me. Activyst, a gym gear company trying to advance the cause of girls in sports, makes these bags out of water resistant material, did a contest, and I won–which meant the prototype arrived at my house a few days before the swim and I was to take pictures of it in action. Archer took to it immediately, of course.

Activyst have very kindly offered to sponsor me and help publicize my charity marathon swims, which will be terrific of them. I swam Tampa for formerly incarcerated folks, and I hope to continue fundraising for worthy causes in my next swims, which will probably include Catalina, Swim the Suck, and (if planning goes right) a crossing from Isla de la Plata to Bahia in Ecuador. But more on that some other time.

My next open water opportunity is hardly worth mentioning – 400 yards of reservoir swimming in tomorrow’s See Jane Run sprint triathlon. I’ve never done a triathlon before, and I have no fancy gear or land sport skills to speak of, but I think I can bike eight miles and run three without keeling over. My book is due with the publisher early next week, and after it’s done, I can get more rigorous about training for the bigger marathon swims coming up next summer.

Season 2013 Recap

The 2013 season was a bit of a rollercoaster, but an interesting one. In January, I started training for the 24-mile Tampa Bay Marathon Swim. I focused mostly on pool and swam distances ranging from 3k to 15k, getting to an average 40k per week in the last few weeks. The swim itself was lovely, despite difficult conditions. I was pulled out at approximately 18 miles, with the Gandy bridge in sight, for a shoulder injury. The rest of my season included a mile in the Charles River, Gatorman at the La Jolla Rough Water Swim, and four Alcatraz crossings – one to Angel Island, one to St. Francis, and two to Aquatic Park on consecutive days, the first one swum butterfly. My shoulder injury and a bunch of personal setbacks have slowed me down considerably, but I’m getting back in the mix and will resume a rigorous training regime as soon as my book is with the publisher.