Manhattan Beach

The past few months I’ve been commuting down to Los Angeles from San Francisco for work. Because of the location of the client I’ve been staying in downtown Los Angeles where there is apparently a dearth of hotels with decent pools, but thankfully the very excellent Echo Park Pool is near by so I have been able to get some work outs in.

This week because of the E3 conference I couldn’t get a hotel room anywhere near downtown, so am stuck out by the airport, which makes my commute worse, but has the upside of at least being near the ocean.

In the previous months I’d never bothered to make the trek out to the coast because of the notorious LA traffic, but given where my hotel is this week it seemed a crime not to head out to the coast and get some open water swimming in instead of trying to find a pool. So last night I popped out to Manhattan Beach for my first Southern California swim.

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(very belated) 2012 South Head Roughwater Swim Report – Part 2

As I mentioned in Part I was lucky enough to be staying at Bondi Beach which was the starting location for the swim, and the swim start was at a very civilized time, so the normal pre-swim rush around was largely absent. Time enough for two breakfasts ūüôā

Getting ready at the start

Getting ready at the start

After days of beautiful blue skies and relatively calm seas we had overcast skies and decent size swells for the day of the swim. The water temperature was roughly in the 70F range so it was a decent day for swimming but somewhat miserable for the crews. It did end up raining intermittently during the swim, and the swells caused my brother to throw up half a dozen times (though thankfully I only found that out after the swim).

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(very belated) 2012 South Head Roughwater Swim Report – Part 1

While the participation levels in open water swimming events may not (yet) rival those of a triathlon or marathon, they are clearly increasing, and that has generated a lot of discussion on what constitutes a “marathon” swim, and what would otherwise just be a long swim.

By adding the 10km open water event to the Olympics FINA has influenced that conversation, and the 10km distance is probably the¬†shortest distance that anyone would give serious consideration to calling a “Marathon” swim.

After doing a bunch of shorter swims and relays in 2010 and 2011 I wanted to step it up notch, and do a “Marathon” swim, so taking the FINA definition I went looking for a swim. My main criteria were:

  • 10km
  • Ocean Swim
  • >70F water temperature

Lake swims still seem a little like cheating to me, and while I swim in the San Francisco Bay I was not confident of my ability to handle 4 hours in really cold water.

After a bit of searching I found the South Head Roughwater swim in Sydney.

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Back in the (Masters) Pool

For the first 18 months of so of my swimming training I pretty much trained alone, almost exclusively in hotel pools. This was brought about both by my travel schedule for work, and being somewhat intimidated by the concept of a Masters workout. I’d never swum competitively¬†growing up, so the whole swim workout was a bit of a mystery to me, as was basic things like lane etiquette etcetera.

In 2011 I managed to get a block of time where I was not travelling for work every week, cast around for some recommendations and overcame my fears and signed up for the masters swim team at the University of San Francisco.

The paperwork around signing up and trying out had all sorts of things about needing to be able to do all four competitive strokes (I can’t swim butterfly to save my life), and all sorts of dire warnings about needing to show up to training all the time, so I was somewhat apprehensive about the whole thing.

As it turns out, the coach Val is a lot more relaxed than the literature had indicated, at my tryout he watched me swim a few lengths, was not fazed when I said I couldn’t do butterfly.

I got great use out of swimming at USF, often getting in 4-5 sessions a week, and tacking on extra yardage after training. I did my first 10km swim in that pool (while it was configured as SCY!), then in 2012 I ended up back on the road for work and let my membership lapse.

A couple of weeks ago I ended up paying the drop in fee at USF to get a Friday evening workout in Рwork had interfered with getting training in during the week and I was jonesing for a swimming fix. I ran into Val at the pool and his welcome made me re-sign up for the Masters on my way out. Last Friday I managed to finally get to my first Masters workout in almost two years.

It was a pretty easy workout, but after not doing interval training for all that time (I tend to just get in an do 1km or 1mile repeats depending on the pool), it was nice to see that I could still keep up.

From a financial perspective it may not be the smartest move (for the number of times I’ll go the drop in fee is cheaper), but having access to a masters workout again is great, and for those weeks when I work from home I’ll try and take advantage of it.