I had always considered myself to be a very strong swimmer. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and I swam consistently in the friendly confines of pools, the Puget Sound, Hood Canal, Snake River and various lakes.
But nothing prepared me for what the Pacific Ocean had to offer late last month in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Brian Barker, one of my former high school football coaches, asked me before I entered the ocean if I was a strong swimmer. He grew up in Southern California and is anything but a novice.
“I have swam all my life,” I said. “I will be good to go.”
Throughout my four-day stay in California, we swam at Leadbetter Beach, Padaro Beach and Carpenteria Beach.
Leadbetter was the first one we hit. We literally got to the beach an hour after I got off the plane.
The first thing I noticed as I swam toward a buoy about 50 yards from shore is how cold the water was. It literally took my breath away. By the time I was able to touch my feet on the bottom of the ocean on the swim back, I was extremely fatigued, and my shoulders ached.
Barker stated the obvious.
“It is a lot different than swimming in a pool or lake, isn’t it?” he asked.
The constant force of the current, along with waves that hit you every five to 10 seconds, makes you expend more energy than if you were to swim in a controlled environment. I knew all of that going in, but knowing it and experiencing it are two different things.
During the next few days, I redeemed myself at Carpenteria and Padaro. The waves and currents were much calmer, and I knew what to expect when I entered the water.
Swimming in the ocean was simply awesome. I can’t wait to do it again in the future.
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.