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.
The traffic was not great, so the relatively short drive from the hotel still took a while, but with sunset at 8:30pm I wasn’t too worried. Having never swum at the beach before I decided to check in with a lifeguard just to make sure I wasn’t going to break any local rules or trigger an unneeded rescue. This part was a bit of a trip for me – While Manhattan Beach was not the location for Baywatch, it has the same kind of lifeguard towers and uniforms as I remember from the show.
The lifeguard I spoke to let me know that I should stay within 200 yards of shore, but also that they were used to folk doing distance swimming so I should be good.
There was a decent sea breeze and a lot of chop, I headed past the breakers and turned south east to parallel the shore, but mindful of the requirement to stay within 200 yards of shore didn’t head as far as I might have. The water was delightfully in the mid to high 60’s (i.e. about 10 degrees warmer than San Francisco Bay), but the swell did make things a little interesting. About 15 minutes into the swim I got seriously dumped by a breaking wave and angled a little further out to try avoid a repeat.
I wasn’t wearing a watch so was debating on whether to try for a full mile (when my GPS would buzz) before turnaround, or just call it when I felt it. Given this was my first swim at this location I decided to be a bit cautious and kept the swim short.
When I saw the lifeguard tower I started at I cut back into the shore – apparently my navigation skills need some more work though as I ended up coming in one tower early, which caused me some consternation when I couldn’t figure out where my towel had disappeared to.
While swimming in chop and waves is definitely more difficult, it is kind of interesting. Not a long swim (just over a mile), and definitely not very fast, but a fun exploratory swim, will definitely be back tonight and tomorrow to make the most of the opportunity I have while I am out here 🙂