As I mentioned, Mark Warkentin (2008 10K Olympian, crew member on my Catalina swim, crew member on my Santa Cruz Island swim, and all-around good guy) was recently named head coach of the Santa Barbara Swim Club, the team we both grew up swimming with. Mark has been on the job a couple months now, and by all accounts things are going great. The future of swimming in Santa Barbara is bright indeed.
A sobering summary of recent shark activity in Santa Barbara County by Peter Howarth, director of the SB Marine Mammal Center (courtesy of Shark Research Committee):
14 April 2012 Shark attacked adult female sea lion off Stearn’s Wharf, Santa Barbara Harbor. Sea lion rescued by harbor patrol, then it was brought to the dock to Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center (SBMMC) volunteers, where it died from shock and blood loss;
20 July 2012 Male southern sea otter attacked at Guadalupe Dunes. Rescued by ranger and brought halfway to Santa Barbara, where it was picked up by SBMMC volunteers. Transferred to Mike Harris of CA Dept. Fish & Game for necropsy;
15-20 July 2012 Adult female California sea lion attacked, received two bites on pelvic area;
25 July 2012 Sea lion above reported on mooring buoy off East Beach, Santa Barbara.
I recently moved across town, and my new digs have one especially compelling feature: It’s walking distance from the Pacific Ocean! Fifteen minutes from door to sand: Two minutes along a sidewalk to the access trail; 11 minutes along a dirt path through an open-space preserve; two minutes down a cliff to the sand. As the crow flies, I’m about 2/3 of a mile from the water.
And it’s a gem of a beach:
Click to enlarge
Even on the sunniest days, it’s nearly deserted due to its vehicular inaccessibility. On the entire stretch of coast shown in the photo above (6pm on a weekday – prime-time for the after-work crowd), there were about five people. While tourists crowd the downtown beaches – East, West, Butterfly, and Leadbetter – this beach remains remarkably off-the-radar, even to many Santa Barbara locals.…
As regular readers know, I can be irritable on the subject of distinguishing between swimming and wetsuit-assisted swimming. So, I should offer credit where credit is due.
Today begins the 75th annual Semana Nautica sports festival – a grand celebration of the Santa Barbara lifestyle, with most events taking place in or near the ocean. Growing up, I participated in the age group swim meet at Los Baños Pool; nowadays, I do the open-water swimming events. Semana Nautica offers three ocean swimming races: 1 mile, 3 miles (both at East Beach), and 6 miles (Goleta Beach to Arroyo Burro Beach).
Semana Nautica ocean swims do not offer separate categories for wetsuits and skins. Actually, wetsuits are not allowed at all. If you show up in a wetsuit, your name will show up in the results next to the letters ‘DQ’.…
My sleepy little beach town of Santa Barbara has not just one – but two! – weekly summer evening splash n’ dash series. Nite Moves, now in its 23rd season, is Wednesdays at Leadbetter Beach, and involves a 1000m swim and/or a 5km run up Shoreline Drive. Reef & Run, a more recent addition to the local scene, is Thursdays at East Beach and offers the choice of a 500m, 1000m, or 1-mile swim followed (select weeks only) by a beach run.
Last week I participated in the season-opening Reef & Run, which was free to all comers. From a swimmer’s perspective, it has a lot to recommend it:
meatier, 1-mile swim (plus 500m and 1000m options)
locker room and showers at the Cabrillo Bathhouse
more affordable $120 season pass (or $15/day)
large, easily-sighted buoys
East Beach is, quite simply, a great beach – one of the best in town.
Nite Moves results are here. I was 6/115 in a mostly local field – though a “local field” in Santa Barbara typically includes some pretty decent swimmers. Mark W. was first. He’s not really in shape right now, but apparently still has enough to hold off the pretenders.
Leadbetter Beach, viewed from Shoreline Park
I haven’t been in the ocean much lately, so the water felt a touch brisk. The closest channel buoy said 57, but I’m guessing it was closer to 55. The overcast skies offered no solar relief. I opted for an in-water warm-up, which was a mistake. By the time I lined up at the start, my feet were numb.
Oh, and I forgot to bring a cap. Mmm… brain freeze.
Beach-start, beach-finish races almost seem designed to punish me.…
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. 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.
Almost every weekend this summer, there’s an open-water race somewhere in Southern California.…
So, there was this local news item last week. While Santa Barbara isn’t typically a hotbed of shark activity, this was a reminder that indeed, sharks do live in the ocean.
That’s right, readers. Sharks live in the ocean.
It’s always interesting to observe how ocean swimmers deal with this fact.
Some take a spiritual, new-agey approach: If you just, you know, become one with the ocean and don’t give off the “fear signal,” the sharks will leave you alone. Fittingly and rather ironically, these people often are residents of San Francisco. (It’s OK, I used to be one.)
Others avoid the issue with euphemisms: “Man in the Grey Suit,” or “The Landlord,” or “Old Whitey”… or, most comically of all, “the S-word.” I guess the idea is, if you don’t talk about it, maybe it’ll go away.…
The blog has been rather text-heavy lately. This post should fix that.
The Santa Barbara Ocean Ducks gather Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at Goleta Beach County Park, and Sundays at Butterfly Beach in Montecito (plus Saturdays in the summer). It’s a diverse, friendly group of folks, and even this late in the year you can expect to see 8-10 of us in the water during the week; more on the weekends.
Typically we head out in groups of 2 or 3 according to speed. There are a variety of possible swim routes. Here’s one of my favorites (click to enlarge):
Goleta Beach to Campus Point
From our meeting place next to the shower head (west of the restaurant and pier, east of the restroom), we make our way beyond the surf line, 100-150m offshore.…
I’m back in Chicago after a salubrious fortnight in Southern California – a week with my in-laws in San Diego followed by a week with my folks in Goleta/Santa Barbara.
It was unseasonably rainy and, when sunny, unseasonably cool, but I didn’t mind. The stretch of south-facing coast between Point Conception and Ventura – with Santa Barbara at the center – is my favorite place in the world. Even the worst weather rarely precludes enjoyment of its blessed terrain.
Los Baños del Mar Pool in Santa Barbara, where I swam somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 miles as a teenager.
With holiday pool closures, schedule changes, and polluted ocean waters, finding a place to swim was an often frustrating quest. In San Diego I swam twice with UCSD Masters and once at the YMCA near my in-laws’ place.…