La Jolla Shores (Day 165)

Today’s swim was exhilarating. I met up with a One With the Ocean group at La Jolla Shores for another coach-led swim, this time in the ocean. Again Kathleen drove me down there in the gray early hours and we arrived at the beach to find lots of swimmers already in the water as well as plenty of surfers and waves that weren’t very big, but given my utter fear of waves, they looked giant to me. 

Kathleen and I wandered around the beach for a bit wondering if there really was an organized group meeting up for a swim and, if so, where were they? All the while my anxiety ramped up: Can I really swim through those waves? As I watched them warily, I noticed a fin appear and then disappear just past the wave line. Are you kidding me? I thought. Are there sharks out there? Then I saw the rest of the creature leap gracefully out of the water: a dolphin. A whole pod of them! 

At the same time, I found the swim group I wanted to join. Coach Antony introduced himself and I explained my deep-seated fear of ocean waves. He reassured me and then, even better, ushered me through them with great kindness. Even so, I faced each wall of water with utter terror and could barely swim because I lost all of my breath, but I arrived safely on the other side of the break line. 

From that point the swim was amazing. The clear water was a beautiful green blue, warm and silky. Swells lifted me up and dropped me down over and over as I swam steadily toward the buoy we were heading for. It was such a different kind of energy than our choppy San Francisco Bay, the water taking me to greater heights and depths, but so much more slowly and peaceful than those wavy swims at home.

I was working too hard keeping up with the group to take much time for noticing the scene around me, but according to Kathleen, the pod of dolphins returned. Occasionally I would encounter a thicket of seaweed and have to disentangle myself, but other than that I didn’t have any sea creature sightings. 

We turned around at a buoy after about three-quarters of a mile (I think—totally basing it on my problematic Garmin). The return swim was fast and fun—those big swells pushing me along. But as we neared the first buoy, dread set in. The swells which had seemed fun now reminded me that I had to return back to shore through their breaking points. As a few really big ones passed by I wondered whether staying out in the ocean forever was an option. 

Happy Me

I didn’t. With Antony’s help, I navigated my way back to shore. It was less scary than the entry had been; much less scary than my anticipatory fears had warned me it would be. Hours later I’m still warm with the wonderful feeling of having accomplished something hard for me.

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