Friday, August 16, 2013

12Aug13 - Smelling the Roses

Yesterday I woke up and started packing my gear.  I was going to Solana Beach, CA to stay with the Van DerByl family for 2 days.  The best highlight of the drive was seeing the "Boob" buildings which were featured in the movie The Naked Gun.  I took a pic and giggled for at least 15 minutes after passing it and did call my wife to say I was "thinking of her"  hehe
Everywhere I look, something reminds me of her  LOL

Arrived at Grace's house and we just relaxed with Neil for the afternoon.  No swimming for me.

The 12th I "slept in" until 0645 then watched TV until Neil and Grace woke up.  Neil went off to work and Grace took me to La Jolla Cove Athletic Club.  This club has been around for a LONG time.  It was first a men's only club but sometime in the 80's they allowed women to join.  They had to build a bathroom for them.  So the men's bathroom has showers, sinks, sauna, hot tub, lockers and is comfortable with soft floor.  The women's bathroom has nothing but a toilet and sink!  I told Grace that I don't feel bad because it's the first time I've EVER heard of a male bathroom being nicer than the female one.
We headed down to the Cove and Grace showed me her favorite training area.  I immediately was jealous.  I wish we had something like this in Utah.  The scenery was magnificent.  It was a mile in length from beach to beach so if you wanted to do a major distance swim, you could just keep feeds at both ends and do laps till your heart was content.  There is a swimmers only lane that goes right down the middle of it.  It's a couple hundred feet wide and has buoys lining the sides.  In the middle are other round buoys that mark specific distances!  Amazing!  No one is allowed in the swimmers lane except swimmers.  If a boat comes in or even a kayak, they will get a ticket!    You could literally swim there all day and night and never see anyone in your area except another swimmer.
When we got going, I felt like I was swimming in an aquarium.  There were bright fish everywhere swimming around and under me.  I followed Grace out into the middle of the swim lane.  There were about 10 sea lions laying on their sides warming their fins in the sunshine.  We swam up to them and I got close enough to see one looking back at me.  It was clear by the look on it's face that I should not get any closer but I was okay where I was.  I watched it for 30 seconds then slowly backed away.  Grace then took me to a cave.  We swam through a narrow opening and inside was a rookery of sea lions.  They were EVERYWHERE and tons of them.  We just hung out in the water and soon more kept jumping in and swimming around us.  They kept getting closer and I turned around to see one about 3 feet from my face barking at me.  She was LOUD!  Grace said I'm fine as long as I don't touch it.  No way in Hell am I going to reach my hand out to touch this thing!  At that time one brushed by Grace and she said it was a good time to go.  Agreed!  The opening had kayakers coming in so we went out a side opening which was really narrow.  We had to time it with the flow coming in and out.  Grace went first and timed it perfect.  I was stupid and followed right after her instead of waiting for my own tide.  I made it 3/4 out when I got pulled back in and pushed against some rocks.  Not smart!  I timed it again and made it out fine the 2nd time.  Grace was just out there looking at me and laughing.  She saw what happened.
We headed back near the swimmers lane when she said she wanted to do some shark hunting.  Sounds fun so lets go!  I followed her and she started pointing out some Bat Rays that were under us.  These are like sting rays but much bigger.  We then headed across more when she stopped and pointed down and made her hand on her head look like a fin.  I looked down to see a shadow going under us but it was near the bottom so I didn't see it that well.  I guess it was a shark.  I swam more and then saw one I KNOW was a shark.  She said it was a Leopard Shark and more are around.  I swam some more and then off to my right I looked and saw several more.  I did a quick count and saw 8 of them, all within 30 feet of me.  Some were small and some were bigger than me.  I can HONESTLY say that I did not get scared or even have my heart rate increase.  I was with Grace and she and dozens of other people swim this place daily and never have a problem.  I'm not going to be the exception and get attacked.  It's not going to happen.
We went under some ropes and headed toward a beach nearby some houses.  These were NICE houses.  There were waves coming in that people were surfing on and boogie boarding on also.  She and I decided to body surf.  It was FUN to say the least.  She pointed to a house and said that it belonged to Dr. Seuss.  It's still in the family but that was his house.  So let me say that again...I WAS BODY SURFING OUTSIDE DR SEUSS' HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If that isn't the perfect idea of a swimmers vacation fun then I don't know what is.  Twice she could see that I was happier than words could express and was BEAMING with joy.  She jumped up and hugged me twice to share the moment.  My cup of joy and happiness was overflowing with this swim.
We headed back and halfway back she stopped and did the fin motion again.  This time it was 7 gill sharks.  Some of these were bigger than the leopard sharks.  We kept swimming but one got curious about us.  He was a medium sized shark and swam around us and right under us.  He was within 3 feet under us.  I just kept swimming but the thought did cross my mind, "I'm not faster than Grace but I am a lot stronger.  If this guy comes any closer, it's not beneath me to grab her and use her as a meat shield and swim away"!  I informed her of this and she just laughed.
We got back to the start and and there were TONS of people in snorkel gear and cameras taking pictures of all the fish around.  It really was like you were swimming in an aquarium.  As I was almost ready to get out, there was a beautiful orange fish near this kid.  He had his camera at the ready and was following the fish to get a "perfect" shot.  I could NOT resist...I swam right between the fish and him and completely photo bombed this kids shot!  I made a ridiculous face and got right in the way as the flash went off.  It was the PERFECT photo bomb!  The fish just swam off.  I had ruined this kids million dollar shot.  I got up and the kid did have a disappointed look on his face but I could not stop laughing.  Grace asked what was so funny and when I told her, she didn't say I did something mean, she just laughed even harder!
My buddy Gordon Gridley was doing a Catalina Channel crossing 2 days after today and I decided to keep my mouth shut and not post about these animals until AFTER he was done.  The sea lions he wouldn't care about but telling him that he is definitely swimming where these types of sharks are and will be around was not a good idea.  Sorry buddy, these sharks WERE there but ignorance is bliss!!!
Overall we swam about 2 miles.
Here is a picture breakdown of all the animals I encountered and an approximate number of the ones I actually saw. 
Sea Lion - at least 50
Bat Ray - couple dozen

southern stingray
Sting Ray - dozen or so

Leopard Shark - around 30
7 gill shark - around 30

 We then headed to the 25M pool where Gracie does her pool workouts and coaches.  I jumped in with the Masters team she coaches there.  The pool was relatively cool and extremely clear.  Nice place to swim.  I joined the workout and had a good time.  Grace was giving sets to us and I did a good job of following what was needed.  I was in the lane with 3 other people and they asked me to lead the group.  I declined at first but after the first set, it was obvious I should lead.  I took the lead and really had to pay attention what was going on.  I got a good workout in and after the workout, Grace got her camera out and video recorded me swimming.  I went to the pool that was next to the pool I was in.  That's right...2 pools!  One was 25 yards and is mainly used to teach lessons and for exercise class for old people.  That pool was not warm, it was HOT.  I pushed off the wall for the first lap and felt pure heat radiating all over my body.  It would be the perfect pool to train for a Maui crossing!  She recorded me and made some adjustments that made a HUGE difference in the technique of my stroke.  6 months of no swimming = stroke STINKS!  It was good to get a real coach's analysis on what I was doing right/wrong.
2500 SCM

Relaxed the rest of the day.  The best news was that Grace gave a solid commitment to swim the GSL 8 mile race next year.  We have our first A-list celebrity swimmer doing our race!  This is definitely going to help get the buzz about our 8 miler going and get more people from out of state to swim in the GSL!  I can't wait.

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