Home  >  Carol LeBeau  >  Carol's Health Journal | 03. July 2012 - Live

Ocean Swimming - "The Water is Open"

03. July 2012

You’ll have to forgive me.  I’ve got a bit of a “buzz” on today.

I’m still “high” from the invigorating swim I enjoyed this morning in the breathtakingly beautiful waters off La Jolla Cove. What a blessing to live near one of the best locations for open water swimming in the world! 

But while thousands head to the beach this summer for a little fun in the sun, many won’t experience the bliss of stroking through the summer surf.  Sadly, most beach-goers find themselves confined to the sand and shallows – fearful of “what’s out there.”  Too bad…because beyond the breakers is an ocean of fun and excitement – if you know what you’re doing.  

Now’s the time!  Sea temps climb into the high 60’s and low 70’s during the summer months in San Diego and if you can swim in a pool, the thrill of a dip in the “big pool” is not out of reach.

Feeling a bit of trepidation? Not to worry! According to La Jolla native and rough water swimming expert, Anne Cleveland, the “water is open” for everyone! I asked the super-swimmer for a few tips to help get you started on your open ocean adventure.   

First, a bit about Anne:

Anne Cleveland is an amazing athlete. She’s an international Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame inductee who has completed numerous long distance open water swims around the world.  She’s swum the Catalina Channel and conquered the English Channel – both one-way and two-ways! As an open water swim coach http://annecleveland.com/ Anne shares her passion for the ocean…helping beginners to elite swimmers achieve their goals.

I asked Anne to address some of the biggest concerns (fears?!) about swimming in the deep, blue sea:

Temperature:  Too cold? Not to worry, says Anne.  Make sure you wear a swim cap – silicone or neoprene.  For added warmth, try any of a variety of wetsuits. Or practice going “naked” (Speedo only!) by slowly acclimating to the water.  Anne recommends starting with five minutes then gradually increasing your time in the water.

Proper Gear:  Comfortable suit, cap for long hair, goggles that fit and fins, if you need a boost through the breakers. (Paradowski’s Swim Supply in Kearny Mesa has it all!)

Swim Buddy: A must! Don’t go it alone.  Join a group (La Jolla Cove Swim Club, San Diego Triathlon Club) or go with an open water coach (annecleveland.com)

Lifeguard:  Ask for advice on conditions.  If you’re new to the open ocean, let the guard know where you’ll be swimming. 

Critters:  We love ‘em!  Especially at La Jolla Cove where Anne describes her swim experience, “like flying over a magical underwater garden teeming with life – bat rays, sea lions, dolphins, leopard sharks (friendly!) giant black sea bass, schools of all kinds of fish – even an occasional turtle!”

Critters – the scary ones!  “The ‘man in the grey suit’ is out there,” says Anne about sharks.  “But they have an abundant food source in seals and sea lions and aren’t interested in us.” A shark attack is extremely rare…in most cases what Anne refers to as “a case of mistaken identity.”

A jellyfish sting can be treated with a vinegar spray or by just staying in the water. Salt water neutralizes the stings.  Avoid stingrays by shuffling your feet when entering the water.  Anne advises, “If you get stung, soak in the hottest water you can stand.” 

Motion of the Ocean: Seasickness.  It happens.  But Anne says you can beat it with non-drowsy Dramamine, Bonine or ginger.

The Kelp Monster!  Those “things” that brush up against your legs may be scratchy…even scary!  Relax! More often than not, they’re just pieces of floating kelp.

Sunburn: Anne uses spray-on sunscreen, “especially for your back!”

Anne’s most important tip?  “Safety…first, second and third, “ says Anne.”  “Never play chicken with the ocean.”

So, are you ready to take the plunge?  Come on in, the water’s “open” and beautiful!

Make this the summer you discover the joy of open water swimming.   With a little practice, you can go from your boogie board to the half-mile buoy.  That’s how I got started.   Who knows, in a couple of months, you may pass by the buoy… and right into the famous La Jolla Rough Water Swim in September. 

“Sea” you at the Cove!

*To contact Anne for more information or to schedule a coaching session, go to annecleveland.com.

*To get involved with a swim group, try The La Jolla Cove Swim Club www.lajollacoveswimclub.com or San Diego Tri Club www.triclubsandiego.org/

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.