Saturday, June 8, 2013
Triple Martini Swim - June 8th 2013
What started with Casey saying he wanted to try to the Triple Martini turned into a three man siege on the waters of San Luis Bay accompanied by a pack of paddlers 7 deep and three pace swimmers. Our three Triple Martini Swimmers pushed their limits whether it be cold or distance or a mix of the two and emerged victorious on the beach with big surf behind them... as well as all those paddlers I was talking about who weren't sure how to actually get out of the ocean in intermittently head high surf!
The team started to arrive at the beach around 7:30am to get kayaks unloaded and on the beach. I brought "Yves", Allison brought "Ruby", Dave brought in "Big Red", and Niel brought both of his kayaks although I'm uncertain if they have cool names or not :) While seats were clipped in and paddles assembled the rest of the crew came out. Besides our swimmers Dave and Casey we had Allison, Niel, Jenny, Sharley, Hanna, and myself there to kayak. Tom, Brad, Duke and Byron were all there to buddy swim at different points as well.
Somewhere closer to 8:30am I split the paddlers into teams and gave a quick rundown of what we were about to go do. Niel would be Dave's lead paddler and would be supported by Sharley and Hanna in Big Red. Allison would be Casey's lead paddler with Jenny supporting. I would be moving back and forth between the two swims and escorting paces swimmers into the martini later on. With this out of the way we moved towards the shore.
Conditions were optimal today. The water temp ranged from 56 and up to maybe 58 and possibly higher depending on how much you trust the various thermometers we had in rotation. The water was very glassy and incredibly smooth, the wind almost non-existent. What we did have was surf. More a problem for the paddlers than the swimmers. When we were getting in there were big lulls between the bigger waves which gave everyone a chance to sneak out without much trouble... phew! That was a major wildcard concern I'd had all week know that a big swell was pointed right at us from the southern hemisphere.
Both swimmers elected to swim clockwise which meant we'd hit Avila Rock first. Dave was swimming with no wetsuit and got right down to business to get his insides warmed up. He was accompanied by Byron and Tom as buddy swimmers. Casey was wetsuited but needed a little time to get comfortable. The guys got to the kelp patch around the rock at about the same time but that's where they separated. Casey tagged the kelp patch and turned for the Poly Pier. Although Dave could have done the same he elected to go all the way around the rock as opposed to just into the kelp patty. The first run through the kelp was ridiculously thick, I think it may have been faster if he would have stood up and just walked to the rock from there! I followed Dave around the Rock back out a channel in the kelp that we found (and used from there on out) and then I took off to catch up to Casey and make sure he was in a good place after lap number one.
On my way across the Martini I picked up a bonus paddler! Danilu came down to the beach with her kayak to help out after some mountain biking earlier that morning. Since Dave had more swimmers with him I dispatched her to join his team.
Somewhere between the Poly Pier and the Avila Pier I intersected Allison and Jenny. Casey was swimming between them at a good rate and was feeling pretty decent. He hit the Avila Pier somewhere under 50 minutes which is a pretty fast lap. At this point is where we picked up Duke. He was going to swim a leg with Casey and then fall back and swim the rest of a lap with Dave. I hung with Duke out to the rock... he crushed the swim by the way. He was looking stronger than I've seen him in a long time and kept right on Casey. After the turn I took Duke back a little ways to Dave's floatilla and folded him into that group which now consisted of Niel and Danilu on kayaks and Dave and Byron in the water. Tom was done after a lap and the girls in Big Red returned to the beach for a while but Byron was feeling good and wanted to keep things going.
I once again rounded the rock and then broke off to see how the other team was doing. From the beginning I was concerned about Casey on this swim because he has very low body fat and hadn't done a 10k swim before. When I caught him on the last half of lap two he was looking great and still moving at a good pace. He was adapting and overcoming like every long distance ocean swimmer needs to do.
At the pier we picked up Brad as a pace swimmer for Casey. His timing was a bit off so I paddled off to get beside him and then angled him in a way that we'd hit Casey's line. With Brad settled in to do lap 3 I turned the boat around again to catch Dave as he finished lap 2.
Dave, Byron and Duke were all swimming well. Niel was keeping a good course and Danilu was keeping the pod together. At the turn she told me that she was doneskis... she busted up some ribs in a bike race recently and wasn't sure she had another 2 mile loop in her. She gave me some feeds Byron had brought out with him to keep in my boat. Turns out that after two laps Byron decided to go for it and finish out the swim! Surprise entrant! Normally that would be frowned upon but I knew he was appropriately trained up for it with the Semana Nautica 6 miler just a month away.
I took on Byron as my swimmer so that Niel could focus on Dave. I took him to the rock, we did a feed in the kelp patch, and then we started making moves for the Cal Poly Pier. About half way there Sharley reemerged on Big Red by herself and pulled alongside me. I loaded her up with Byron's feeds and let her take over as his escort. I took that opportunity to bail out and catch Casey's last leg to the pier and back to the beach.
At this point in the swim he was hurting. We were way past anything he's done in open water and he thought he was getting a little seasick.The good news is that if he had any considerations of quitting he was out of luck because if he wanted to leave the ocean the only way to do so at this point was to finish the swim. He later said the the swim down the pier to the beach was the longest 400m of his life! Since he was definitely cold I sent Jenny ahead to the beach to get ready for his arrival with towels and whatnot. Brad went ahead too, he was getting cold and needed to get back to the beach. Casey ultimately finished at approximately 2 hours and 57 minutes, the first person to break 3 hours.
From here I only had Dave and Byron left in the water and I drifted out toward them and joined that crew for the paddle in. We were greeted by some hoots and hollers from the pier which is always fun :) We shuttled Dave and Byron down to the buoy line and then the paddlers still in the water - me, Niel, Sharley and Allison who rejoined us after Casey landed on the beach - made a turn to find an open patch of beach to land on. A guy from the Harbor Patrol came and talked to us for a minute with some guidance on where they'd like us to put our boats down. A lot of the time we get away with paddling straight into the beach near our "spot" but the surf was too big and too crowded so we were pointed down a little past the lifeguard tower instead.
Once in position the four of us floated just past the breakers trying to figure out how to get out without getting destroyed by a big wave. At this point there were dumpy head high monsters blowing through... fun if you brought your boogie board but a little unnerving if you're in a kayak! Once I thought I had it timed I went for it. I paddled as hard as I could... stopped for a second to let one break in front of me and then got back to it. I had a wave pick me up and I did a rad little power slide to my left in the wave and managed to keep it upright all the way to the beach! Niel had a good ride in as well but the girls got tumbled. Allison bailed out when it became obvious her kayak was about to do a cartwheel and I think Sharley was rolled.
Byron, Brad and Danilu came out to help the kayakers haul their boats back to our spot up on the beach. Byron was looking good for having just swam over 11k according to his Garmin, and Dave was still on the beach talking with enamored bystanders :p The guys finished at about 3 hours 23-24 minutes.
Back at the beach I noticed Casey was missing. Turns out he was getting a hot shower. The lifeguards let him borrow their hot water to get him warmed back up because he did come out of the swim pretty cold. After that and some time in the hot sun which broke out as the swim ended fixed him right up.
With Casey back in the mix we coronated the newest member of the Triple Martini Club. Dave, Casey and Byron join Duke, Niel and myself in this most exclusive and prestigious club :) From there we hung out rehashed the swims, ate some goodies, and reloaded some boats while frustrating a lot of latecomers to the beach who were convinced we were all about to give up our primo parking.
Overall I'd say the swim was a huge success... everybody had fun and nobody died! Alright! Seriously though, thank you to everyone that helped make it happen. The paddlers did a fantastic job and I know the buddy swimmers were all very appreciated... it's gets lonely out there in the water. Hopefully we have more contenders sometime in the future, but in the meantime I think we may need to plan a single martini for sometime later this summer... something for everybody to think about...
We will be back in action Sunday at the regular time, come out and swim the water is waiting for you!
Update 14JUN13: Dave and Casey have both written blog posts from their perspective on the swim, check them out!