Open Water Season Begins in SoCal

My first open-water race of 2012 is this evening, the weekly Nite Moves 1000m swim / 5K run at Leadbetter Beach in Santa Barbara (I skip the running part).

leadbetter beach, santa barbara
Leadbetter Beach. Photo by Instagram user “woooks”

Nite Moves is (are?) organized by triathlon-types and doesn’t (don’t?) offer separate categories for wetsuits & skins. This is sort of offensive, but whatever, I’ll play by their rules.

The “swim” portion of Nite Moves ends with a 70m run up the beach, which is also offensive (my hip replacement precludes me from running). But afterwards there’s food, beer, music, good company – and hey, it’s Santa Barbara – so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

13 thoughts on “Open Water Season Begins in SoCal”

  1. I’m jealous! The OW season in AZ is already winding down. We have two more Splash & Dashes (they have a Splash Only option), and several 10-mile adventure swims (I’m just going to the halfway point on those). We’re dry from May 20th to the end of August.

    The Splash & Dashes don’t have a non-wetsuit division, but it’s already too hot for most people to wear one.

  2. Since it’s never warm enough here to meet the triathlete 65f wetsuit cutoff, if we want cross the divide and take part in one of their races, they force us to wear a wetsuit, which is worse IMO than just all being treated the same:

    It’s 750m, I really don’t need a wetsuit. I would even swim something so short if i hadn’t been asked to.

    You MUST wear it, we can’t take a chance.

    You understand I’ve swum 10 miles at this temperature without a wetsuit, right?

  3. Jealous too!! Maybe I’ll make it out for the La Jolla swim in September…having ocean withdrawals. I’m trying to make the most of the “local” stuff here this season,….
    The Pointe to La Pointe swim here was always reputed to be wetsuit mandatory but I just noticed on the site that you can request permission to go naked so I might give that one a try

  4. We triathletes find your attitudes ‘offensive’ as well! 😉 Not going to get a lot of converts that way!

    Glad you live someplace warm enough to swim long distance without additional insulation, also. My skinny behind gets hypothermic swimming in SF Bay.

    In all seriousness, tri events are wonky with regard to swim safety. They tend to cater to the lowest common denominator and deaths stemming from panic attacks have happened. This seems to have scarred directors and insurance companies.
    Events have been canceled due to ‘poor conditions’ consisting of a few feet of swell + strong wind. A lot of good triathlete swimmers are incensed at this – and a lot of poor swimmers are publicly relieved.

    I can completely understand the outrage of someone who is told they must wear a wetsuit no mattter what.

    I much prefer swim events organized by Masters teams or open water organizations rather than swim events that tri organizers put on. There seems to be a bigger crowd with triathletes, though. I suspect finances have a big influence. That said, I was a swimmer first and a triathlete second; usually it’s the other way around.

    1. I don’t think wetsuits necessarily increase safety. If people didn’t have access to their security blanket maybe they’d think twice about trying something they’re not qualified to do, and/or spend more time and effort improving their swimming competence. Wetsuits give a false sense of safety. Compare the number of in-event deaths with wetsuits and without.. I’m almost certain the former is much larger.

      1. I totally agree. I’m amazed at how many people do an open water triathlon race as their first-ever open water swim. Those mass starts are scary, even for me. And I a.) Love the water, b.) Have a lot of experience in open water, and c.) Love a crowded start.

        Even worse, MANY people panic wearing a wetsuit for the first time. They feel that constriction in the chest and feel like they can’t breathe. You can hang back from a crowded start, but there’s not much you can do if you get in the water and find out your wetsuit scares the hell out of you.

        p.s. I think the “skinny triathletes can’t handle cold” is a myth. I agree that triathletes don’t have time or inclination to train for cold water swimming. I also agree that getting on a bike after you’re already cold is a bad idea.

        But you’re not too skinny to handle an hour or so in cold water if you train for it. I’m very lean, I live in a hot climate, and I’m a delicate flower. But the more I train, the better I can handle swimming in cold water.

        1. It’s great to hear a lean person extol the virtues of cold-water swimming without a wetsuit. (I’m not exactly “lean,” though I’m leaner than ~85% of channel swimmers). The main thing in keeping warm is just to be able to keep moving, keep the blood flowing, keep the internal furnace burning. When people go hypothermic in a ultra-distance cold water swim, it often has more to do with bonking than lack of insulation.

      2. I agree entirely, Evan. Also agree with Katie about the huge number of new open water swimmers doing a triathlon as their first race.
        It’s a big problem and I can see why triathletes get a bit of a bad rap from, well, real swimmers. A lot of beginner triathletes expect to flounder through a swim or are relying on the rescue abilities of the kayakers. Bad plan from top to bottom.
        As far as cold water conditioning, well, tried that off and on for a few years in 58 degree waters. I still freeze out after about half an hour (toes white, shivering, mentally ‘sliding’ all over the place).

        1. I have tremendous respect for triathletes. Two of my best training partners were both (pro) triathletes, and I always marveled at their training regimens. It’s a tough sport, with a lot of tough athletes.

          My problem is more with the structure of the sport, which lets people get away with being ill-prepared for swimming. Am I being too literal in expecting a sport called TRIathlon to actually test people in THREE disciplines, not two-and-a-half?

          I don’t compete in triathlon, so I don’t actually care that much what they do… my real problem is with people who hold OPEN WATER SWIMMING events that don’t offer separate divisions and essentially force people like me to wear wetsuits to have any hope of competing.

          Re: your experience with cold water conditioning. At sub-60F, numb extremities are par for the course, even for the well-acclimated. That’s just your body shunting blood to your core – which is a good thing!

          Thanks for your comments.

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