Sunday, June 14, 2009
Huntington Beach Pier Swim Race Report
This weekend's 58th Annual Huntington Beach Pier Swim makes two open water races in as many weeks...and you can also make that two in the last several years!
This weekend we had another beach start, with over 100 hardy souls in my wave lined up on the north side (down current) of the Huntington Beach Pier. The horn went off and like a herd of bison we ran, high-stepped and trampled into the ocean at low tide for our 800 meter race. I attempted to follow the leaders, who precariously swam BETWEEN the completely barnacled pilings.
The current was quite strong and the strategy was swim in the slightly calmer water between the pilings. By the time we reached the end of the pier, the swimmers who had taken the outside route were coming across in droves, swimming over eachother, kicking, clawing. Once I had made it to the south side I was basically swimming diagnonally against the current just to stay south of the pier and eventually make it back to the beach finish.
My stroke felt strong, but the combination of the current and waist to chest-high surf made the going very slow for everyone. I was humbled by two waves. The second wave pulled me under for over five seconds, and sent me too close to the pier's pilings.
A Lifeguard made me swim back through the pilings, with the current and run up the beach to the finish. I eventually made it to the shore and did make the sprint to the finish in just over 12 minutes and 30 seconds. My total "swim" time was around 11minutes.
The craziness of the pack swim, navigating the pilings, battling the current, and being tossed around by the waves made it one of the most enjoyable races of any kind that I have done in quite a long time. I felt strong in the water, much stronger than ever before in an open water race. My navigational folly (not continuing south after passing the end of the pier) cost me valuable time.
However at the finish line I was grinning ear-to-ear and looking forward to this summer's many open water races. I have definitely regained my love of swimming and time in the ocean. I believe I can turn my relative "weakness" into a strength, and soon.