I did a triathlon this past year, and really enjoyed it, but the open water swim made me nervous! So, in order to review a couple of upcoming events, but avoid some hyperventilation, I have recruited my husband to try a couple open water swimming events this summer. My husband is no Michael Phelps, but he probably won’t drown! His past includes growing up in Minnesota, where lake swimming is a part of life and he completed a half iron man about 6 years ago when he was in a lot better shape than he is now.
The best part about open water swimming is that it allows for athletes to get out of their comfort zone and into the natural environment (this is also the scary part!). There are numerous open water swim classes in Southern California for open-water novices. Swim Velocity, in Orange County, puts on one of the highest rated classes based on a review of Triathlon and Open Water Swim Message Boards: http://www.swimvelocity.com/Open_Water_Swimming.html. The best part is that it allows for repeated group swim and refresher classes for those who may take a little extra time to get comfortable in the water.
Another great resource is the OC Open Water Swims google group. They coordinate informal meetups for weekly swims at the state beaches around Orange County, there is a wealth of knowledge and some fantastic swimmers who attend.
My husband has decided to train for two events in June. The first is a 1/2 mile “Lap Around the Pier” in Huntington Beach on June 8th. The great part about these swims is that the registration fee is reasonable (unlike many of the Triathlon races in Orange County) only $25, including a t-shirt. A word of warning, wetsuits are not permitted!
The second is La Jolla’s Pier to Cove swim. This is a 1.5 mile swim from La Jolla Shores (the Pier) to La Jolla Cove. This is a challenging but beautiful swim that navigates some of the best nautical preserves in Southern California. Wildlife is abundant (including sea lions, tuna, dolphins and sometimes whales). What is interesting about La Jolla is it is home to the largest population of sting-rays in Southern California as well as several (harmless) species of small shark!
If you are feeling brave and are a confident swimmer, you may want to consider these as an enjoyable alternative to the local triathlon races. I’ll keep you posted on how my husband’s training and races go!