It was another mountain bike race weekend, this time down near Monterey. Kevin and I spent the morning watching Hazel killing it on the track.
And then, while she cheered on the rest of her team (mountain bikes races are ALL day affairs), we snuck away for a few hours to find a place to swim.
Googling where to swim in Monterey Bay, I was drawn to Lover’s Point Beach (how could I not be with that name?), a reportedly protected cove boasting clear water and a kelp forest, popular with open water swimmers.
I started getting nervous as we drove south along the coast. I could see from the car that the swells were big, the ocean churning. When we were close enough to see the break, it was big and powerful. “I’m not swimming in that,” I said.
Somehow we missed Lover’s Point and ended up driving to a beach further north. We got out and smelled the salty air, felt the ocean spray as waves crashed against rocks. Kevin looked up the conditions on his winds and tides app and saw that there was a 25-knot wind and 8 ft waves in Monterey Bay today. I started wrapping my brain around an end-of-day swim when we got back to Berkeley, resigning myself to missing out on Monterey this time.
We got back in the car with our minds set on finding lunch instead of a swim, but as we headed north, we discovered the Lover’s Point Beach we somehow missed the first time around. “Let’s just take a look.”
We parked and crossed to a little, grassy park that looked down on the beach. It was perfect.
“I can swim in that!” Excited now, I got my swim gear from the car and we went down to the beach. The water was gorgeous; incredibly clear and aquamarine. As I was changing, a big group of swimmers arrived and headed straight into the water, swimming out and disappearing into the distance.
I should have tried to talk to them because when I was dressed and ready to get in, I got nervous again. The bay was protected and the big waves for further out and off to the side, but it still churned with energy. I couldn’t get those big waves out of my mind.
Finally, I jumped in. The water was brilliantly cool and fresh, clear and lovely. I could also feel the pull of the currents, the power in the water. I knew the right thing would be to swim beyond the breakwater as those other swimmers had done, but I just couldn’t bring myself to face my fear of the waves, of getting stuck out there.
So I hung out near the shore, paddling back and forth, diving in and out of that delicious water. It wasn’t my best swim, and I left regretful that I wasn’t able to conquer my fear this time; curious about ways to increase my comfort with this aspect of open water swimming. Maybe I need to take surfing lessons?
Despite that disappointment, it was a gorgeous swim in a beautiful spot and I left invigorated and ready to spend a few more hours cheering on rad high school athletes as they tore it up on the mountain bike course.