The T-bay Rough Water Classic

I can’t say I’m back in the sea, as I’ve been sea swimming all through the winter. However times have been going up. I had gotten somewhat complacent doing 40 minute swims. So last weekend I upped it to 55 minutes and felt ok, of course I had direct radiant heat from the sun, and warm air as the weather was very good.

This weekend just passed I wanted to do an hour or over. But the weather had dis-improved.

Funnily enough (funny for me that is), I noted I was a bit nervous Saturday morning (I’ve mentioned before about monitoring your physical and mental responses). This only lasted the few minutes after breakfast, before I got in the car. The weather had started to turn Friday evening with a southerly developing. Saturday at the Guillamenes there were none of the regulars about. The air temperature was a bit lower and it was cloudy. More importantly it was Force 4 to 5 onshore South-easterly, the worst wind for the spot. It was this wind blowing directly onto the west side of the bay where the Guillamenes is located that kept the numbers down and the sea up.

It was very choppy and lumpy. But I launched into it, did the Guillamenes to Doneraile Head, back out past Newtown Cove and back to the Guillamenes and did just over the hour.
I felt fairly comfortable, hadn’t developed a full “claw”. It was only the endless battering of the chop that drove me out.

For swimming rough water, some important things to remember are:

  • Plan your exit. Can you get out safely?
  • Relax. If you don’t and your muscles are tight you’re more likely to injure yourself,as you get thrown about. It’s very similar to learning to surf.
  • Learn to breath bilaterally. If you can only breathe to the right, and the chop is breaking into your face while you’re trying to breathe, well that’s obviously a problem.
  • Know the location. Rough water often changes the local conditions and can increase currents.

I have a longer swim today so yesterday I did the shorter swim I’ve been doing the past few weeks, again in choppy conditions (not as choppy as Saturday though), down to the pier and back, in 45 minutes and was very comfortable afterwards.
Temperature both days was 8.5 Celsius (47.3 F). All the winter swimming is paying off, I think, at least for the moment. Looking back at notes I wrote two years ago, I wasn’t even estimating my “comfort” time at that temperature, and at 10.5 Celsius, I was estimating thirty minutes!

Conditions like this in T-bay often bring with them a swirling current localized off the end of the pier and waves lifting a couple of hundred metres before the pier . Waves will also lift going toward the Colomene outcrop (about 200 metres from the Guillamenes), and won’t be easily visible from the Guillamenes, as you are looking at the back of the wave.

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