Semana Nautica Santa Barbara 6-Mile Ocean Swim

Oscar and I returned to Santa Barbara as a veteran swimmer-kayaker team this year for the 2014 Semana Nautica 6-Mile Swim. This was year two, having belly flopped my way into the race last year. On the drive up on Saturday we stopped and stayed with Julie's father, Roger, and his wife, Nora in Camarillo. Race morning started early with a bagel and some orange juice followed by a one hour drive up to the starting point at Goleta Beach.

The incomparable Jane Cairns put on another excellent race. Honestly, this is one of the best organized and most special races I know of. Open water swimming is growing fast. It seems to be growing fastest in the 1- to 3-mile range. This longer race has the feel of old-time running races back when running races were enjoyed much less frequently by the masses. I sound like I know what I'm talking about, but really I'm just imagining what it must have been like to run 10k races in the 1970s with my Dad or George Sheehan.

There were 44 swimmers this year. The water was a balmy 68-69 degrees, with "cold" patches that frankly were not even bothersome. They could not have been cooler than 64. I checked in as swimmer 22.

The morning was lovely. It was warm and there was very little wind. Once again I lathered up with various sunscreens and applied Body Glide and Vaseline under my arms to keep the chafing at the bay. We had our pre-race meeting to go over the specifics of the swim. Basically, go to the end of the Goleta pier (but not so close as to bother the fishing lines, or what might be on them), turn left, swim six miles, turn left, and swim to shore. 

As is so often the case with these endurance events, each swimmer required a support person in the form of a kayaker. Oscar was willing once travel slowly down the coast with me. I stopped only once about half way for some Gatorade. Unlike last year, there was very little in the way of chop and there was a mild, but distinct current helping from behind this time. I heard, but didn't see dolphins. There was less kelp this year than last. I was better trained this year and proved it coming in a full 53 minutes faster in a total time of 2:38:23.

I felt so good at the end I thought I could keep swimming, but there were awards to be handed out and a World Cup final to watch. After the awards, again made by a local artist, were distributed we raced to Giovanni's Pizza in Santa Barbara to watch the game. I was bummed that Argentina lost, but not much could bring me down after a great swim.

Thank you, Oscar for accompanying as kayak support. I could not have done it without you.


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