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swimsuit addict

A windy beach day

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I enjoyed a sweet swim out at Brighton Beach today with the CIBBOWS crew. The day did not look promising—it has turned a little colder here, and it was very windy—but when I arrived there was a decent contingent of hardy swimmers gathered on the beach in their parkas. They were all gathered around Gilles, who was putting together a contraption of some sort—turned out it was a towable feeding station. It was very elaborate and well thought out, and we all watched and speculated about the chances it would work in the choppy water as he put the finishing touches on his creation.

The water was bracing. Cara got a reading of 50 on her thermometer, four degrees warmer than last week, but we all agreed it felt a little colder than that, maybe because of the waves or cloudy conditions. I wasn’t too slow getting in today, and was rewarded with water that was exceptionally clear. I swam towards the west, into the wind. The conditions were very bouncy and fun—not too much chop. It felt wonderful just swimming along. About 50 meters into the swim I noticed three seagulls hovering over me as I swam, about 15 to 30 inches from the water’s surface. I turned over on my back and tried shooing them away, then tried explaining that I had no food for them, but neither tactic worked—they stayed right over me and followed me wherever I went. That was a little creepy, but I decided I could live with it.

After I while I turned back. Gilles was just getting in the water with his feeding station, so I swam back to see how that would work. On the way I spotted one spider crab, and then another. I hovered over the second one watching it scuttle along the bottom, and even dove down to get a better view. I thought about touching it, but I haven’t quite gotten that brave yet. I tried showing it to Hsi-Ling and Capri, who were both nearby, but they were both taken with their own adventures in the choppy water so I watched the show alone.

After a bit Gilles waved and called to me, so I stroked further out from shore to where he was swimming with Brad and Eli. By this time I had finally lost my seagull, but I noticed a couple swimming over Brad, who was doing backstroke. (He later told me he had tried throwing handfuls of water at the birds to try and get them to go away, but that that had no affect on them). The feeding station was floating along very stably in the waves as Gilles towed it behind him—cool! I swam with them for a briefly, then decided I wanted to head back in closer to shore to see if I could see more crabs.

One of Brad’s seagulls followed me as I swam in. I saw a couple of big horseshoe crabs together on the bottom, and a few other more common ones. I floated on my back, thinking that I’d like to stay in being tossed by the waves all day, but knowing it was time to get out. As I headed up to my blanket, which was mostly buried, I could feel the sand crunching in my teeth. Too much grinning on the beach on windy days will do that to you!

For once I had brought too few rather than too many clothes, and I got a little chilled on the beach as I waited for the other swimmers to come back in. I did just enough swimming today to remind myself how wonderful and free it feels to be out in the ocean, no matter the conditions. It makes me happy to contemplate a whole spring of training out here with friends ahead of me.

But back to those seagulls—what were they thinking? Cara was also closely followed. I’ve had them do this before at Brighton, but not to this extent. When they weren’t following swimmers today, they were diving into the water and retrieving bits of seaweed and fighting over crabs onshore. I’m not sure how they obtained the crabs they were fighting over. I didn’t see any of the diving seagulls get one—the crabs I saw crawling along the bottom were in chest-deep water or deeper, and the seagulls I saw diving only submerged a couple of feet or so. It made me wonder whether the gulls were waiting to steal crabs from larger predators that could reach them, and hoped that might be us. (I didn’t dive down and bring a crab to the surface to test that theory.) Also, the three of us who were closely tracked were all wearing pink caps. Maybe I’ll try another color next week!

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