Meeting the lifeguards via air horn

Well, there I was in the ocean for the first time in years…other than races…in moderately rough conditions, getting tossed around, but enjoying the freedom of no lane lines, and just ‘swimming’ to the beep of my TempoTrainer, setting my stroke rate…when I thought that I heard an  air horn in the distance

…I was swimming along a section of the beach, about 1/2 mile long, lined with beach umbrellas and lifeguards…cool…most of my ocean swimming over the years, had been either swimming alone, or with a few die-hard Iron Buddies, and rarely if ever in lifeguard areas…yellow flag for the conditions + a warning flag for jellyfish…I don’t like jellyfish, but the water looked too compelling

So I dropped off my wife under an umbrella, waded into the surf…and worked my way out through over-head-height surf break line…staying away from the surfers…and finally found the choppy/swelling, but swimmable ocean on the other side, turned south to follow the shoreline, and then focused on the challenge of finding my ‘perfect’ pool form, in the rougher conditions.

…and then there was that air horn…at first it didn’t really register through the ear plugs, swim cap, and TempoTrainer beeping away, but then I heard it again…faint…but it was there…so I stopped, looked towards the shoreline, and saw a group of people jumping up and down, lifeguards waving their red rescue cans

…interesting I thought…wonder what’s up…they were quite a ways off, so couldn’t really make anything out through the tinted swim goggles, but decided to swim in a little closer to see what’s going on…then I started to think, geez…maybe there’s like sharks in the water…and they’re waving to _me_ …so I stopped and looked again, and could now see them waving earnestly…I looked around me, didn’t see anything, but decided to swim in…as I got closer it became clear that they were waving _me_ in…well, I thought, I guess I’ll find out when I get there.

…sure enough, all the fuss was about me…no sharks, just concern about some fruitcake in an orange swim cap, obliviously swimming out in the middle of the ocean…I was swimming out waaaay too far, I was told by a polite young woman in a Baywatch swimsuit, surrounded by a group of lifeguards standing beside the ‘supervisor’ jeep…she explained that the ‘ordinance’ was chest-shoulder height water or 50 yards from shore, and that I was _waaaay_ beyond that

…she explained that if for some reason I wanted to swim out that far, that I could do it outside the lifeguard area, and she pointed to the direction towards the fishing pier in the distance…but in the lifeguard area I had to stay in close to the shoreline

…geez, I’m sorry I said..didn’t know…all the time pulling in my stomach…sooo happy to be 15 pounds ‘thinner’ in my Speedo, trying to look like a ‘real’ swimmer

…are you training for something or just out for a swim she asked

…my 5th Ironman I said…dang that was a good answer…good quick mind I thought

…she smiled…okay, look, she said…we can cut you a little slack…just beyond the break line, but that’s it…pointing to the line where the waves were breaking…and again re-inforced…do you see where that line is breaking right there…yes I said…that’s it okay…okay I agreed…next time talk to us first and tell us what you want to do…I will I said…have a good swim she said

…so I re-assembled all my stuff, headed back out into the surf, and away I went…of course there’s not really a ‘hard’ break line, but I was definitely in closer, tossed around a lot more, but enjoyed the rest of the swim for an hour without incident

…oh there was that one jellyfish sting on my right arm…but didn’t really hurt too badly at the time, so I just kept on swimming…turned out it was pretty mild really, more like the feeling of a vine of small thorns being dragged over the skin…and then felt ‘prickly’, but that was about it…a bit of a red welt for about an hour after the swim, but then subsided, and not a big deal…apparently 7 or 8 other sting ‘casualties’ that morning

The best news about the swim, is that I was able to stay with a variety of stroke rates without any problems, from 1.26 to 1.24, to 1.14, to 1.20…so that was very good…the weakness was that I could feel that I wasn’t able to maintain a very streamlined position in the water…my forward lean was very difficult to maintain, and therefore my legs lower in the water than they should be, as I was getting my head up too high for a breath…that will take a lot of work, or else even if I have the ‘correct’ stroke rate, if my position in the water is too inefficient, it’s going to really slow me down

…I have to _really_ develop that confidence in the forward lean position in rougher open water conditions

…today I think I’ll wear my Ironman swim cap…and talk with the lifeguards ahead of time

…so off to do it again today in advance of the hurricane…that should be a good test in some interesting conditions 🙂


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