Spring Has Sprung

What an awesome weekend to be in the UK!  No really!  Two gilt-edged, copper-bottomed, kick-up-your-heels-it’s springtime sort of days.  Temperatures were in the 16-20C sort of range (62-68F), the sun was out for the most part, and all was well with the world.  Two great swims as well……

Saturday saw SuperHelen, Bojan and me at the Riverbank club for a 10.30 dip.  Strangely, neither Bojan nor Helen were ‘feeling it’ pre-swim.  A distinct lack of enthusiasm:

But in we all got, and had a great swim, up to the 3 Willows and back, 22 minutes against the flow up, and back with the flow from the turn:

It turned out that the water was at 9.5C, a huge bump up with all of the warm weather we have been having recently.  I had been suffering from lower back twinges up until the point we got in that day.  When we got out of the cool water they had mysteriously all gone, and have not returned since.

Sunday was a different kind of magic.  A glittering, azure-papered day more reminiscent of the best that May has to offer.  Helen and I made it down to London Fields Lido for 9.15 AM, for a slightly longer swim than the previous day.  London Fields Lido is a 50 m outdoor heated pool in Hackney in East London.  I had a 10 k planned, and this was to be my first in a 50 m pool.

I took it out steadily, planning a stop at 2 miles.  It felt great swimming in the open air, in the bright sunshine.  At 2 miles I was feeling so good I thought I would leave it to 5 k to stop, just over 3 miles, especially as the 2 mile time was decent (52 minutes), and I was feeling super-strong.

At 5 k I was still feeling great, so I decided to swim through till 10 km.  What the hell!  What was the worst that could happen?  What did happen was that around the 7 km mark I started to get that feeling where your limbs are ‘separate’ from the rest of your body.  I was still swimming strongly, but a slight sense of otherworldliness started to creep over me.  I bailed out and stopped at 7.5 km for a drink of Ribena-flavoured Maxim.  Probably no more than 30 seconds, before heading off again.  The double width fast lane started to get pretty crowded at this point, with many of the swimmers not having much of a clue what to do to be passed safely, or where to chat at the end of the lane.  I more or less managed to keep my composure, but one idiot was singled out for a fairly sharp WTF! as he came in to turn on the wrong side, and completely in my way as I pushed out.

Dodgy Hat Line

Dodgy Hat Line

I persevered through a veritable sea of muppets, and finished the 10 km in 2 hours 46, beating my PB for the distance by a full 5 minutes!  How much of this was to do with having 200 fewer turns than usual in a 25 m pool (I do open turns having never truly mastered tumble turns), and how much was due to pushing and maintaining a reasonable pace, I don’t know.  But I was well pleased.  I also wound up with a hat line, in the UK, in Mid March!!!

The Day I Turned Left

I am a lucky man.  In many ways I am a lucky man!

Amongst the numerous things I am thankful for, I include the fact that my work requires me to come to San Diego 3 or 4 times a year, which happens to be one of the Open Water Swimming meccas, right up there with Dover, Aquatic Park in San Francisco, Sandycove in Ireland.

I am also lucky to get the chance to swim with Dan Simonelli when I come and visit.  Dan knows the Cove like the back of his hand, as he swims here most days, and runs an Open Water Swimming Academy (https://www.facebook.com/OpenWaterSwimAcademy)

I swam with Dan twice this week.  Firstly on Monday we swam out from the Cove on a ‘Tour of the Buoys’, on to Scripps Pier, and back to the Cove.  2 Peachy hours in ideal conditions: water at 58 F, sun coming up over the hills, kind water conditions with little surf or chop.

It felt like I could have swum for hours that day.  Just ideal.

Wednesday was a slightly different story.  The sun curiously (for San Diego) absent, a bit of wind and swell, and some 5-6 ft surf rolling into the Cove.  We set off out to sea and straight into a set of 5 or so waves.  Not the first time that this had happened, but this time was at low tide, and was hard work.  I didn’t want to duck dive too deep under the white water for fear of hitting the rocky bottom, and it was hard work making much progress out to sea.  I could understand how people get into trouble at that spot, as I was starting to feel quite tired, with the waves continually trying to push me backwards onto the rocks, where the seals gazed on dispassionately.

Soon enough, after 5 or 6 waves, the set relented, and we swam out into the Cove.  This time, rather than heading out into the Cove towards the Shores or Scripps Pier, we turned left and headed up the coast in the other direction, for a mile or so.  The water was pretty flat outside the breakers, and it was good swimming.

Wednesday, Swimming Outside The Surf

Wednesday, Swimming Outside The Surf

We then headed back towards the Cove, over to the Marine Room, before slogging out through some choppy water to the A-buoy, and from there back in to the Cove.  Just outside where the waves were breaking, we paused and chose our moment to dash back in.  We only got part way in though, before Dan motioned us to swim back out again, under a mini-set of 3 waves.  Then back in again swiftly and up onto the beach, just in time to see a large and angry looking set of waves crash in behind us.

Another 2 hours under my belt.  Not as idyllic as Monday, but probably more valuable!  Thanks again to Dan for training with me, and giving me the benefit of his knowledge of the Cove.  See you next time!