Big Waves Expected In Biggest Race In America

Big Waves Expected In Biggest Race In America

At tomorrow’s Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim in California, big surf is expected, but the excitement is growing for the 1,100+ entrants in the 2-mile swim.

Last year, 1,008 people finished in relatively calm conditions, but consistent surf of 2-3 foot waves with occasional faces of up to 8 feet are expected.

This surf forecast can and should change the strategy of the swimmers according to Gerry Rodrigues, founder of Tower 26 (shown above). “With the surf 2-3 feet, it may be fine, but athletes still should check out the finish conditions, two miles from the start, prior to the race start. Always be prepared for no surprises.”

With the swells and surf, athletes have three choices coming into the finish as they round the last pier (see photo),” recommended Gerry. “They can swim inside, they can swim outside or down the middle.”

Inside – near the pier – is definitely not the course to take with the swells building up water volume on the beach and then flushing back offshore along the pier.”

“Together with the northerly currents, swimming on the inside, near the pier, is just going to cause problems and slow you down. You will be pushed back and, perhaps, even too close or through the pilings on the (Manhattan Beach) pier

Depending on the conditions, you can swing far outside and come in with the surf. This means that you may swim a bit further than the straight line tangent into the finish, but with the northerly current running pretty fast, you should be able to hit the finish nearly perfectly if you are an experienced swimmer and body surfer.”

If you are average swimmer, you may want to take the middle course, not too wide and just swim straight in, always looking back at the waves in order for you not to get caught by surprise.”

Gerry provided additional tips on how to swim well at this weekend’s Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim in Manhattan Beach, one of the more fashionable beach areas in Southern California and one of the most ideal open water swimming beaches in America, where the water temperature is currently 63-65°F.

Tip #1: Do not start to the farthest right unless you are a 1:10 per 100-yard swimmer or faster.

Tip #2: Look for open spaces or pockets to enter as the horn sounds, both while running in the water and swimming at the start.

Tip #3: It is possible there will be a dip or inshore hold due to the high tide. Be aware. You should check for this during your warm-up.

Tip #4: Keep looking for open spaces as you swim at an angle toward the Hermosa Pier.

Tip #5: Tightly round the pier, but swim approximately 15 feet or more if you are NOT a 1:10 per 100-yard swimmer or faster.

Tip #6: Begin sighing frequently for the Manhattan Pier, every 6-10 strokes.

Tip #7: There are three objects to assist in your navigation: (1) your position as you swim toward Manhattan Pier, (2) your position as you swim away from Hermosa Pier, and (3) your lateral distance from shore (you will need some right-sided breathing).

Tip #8: Draft as best you can off a faster swimmer, either at their feet or on their hips. Keep sighting frequently.

Tip #9: Buoy line – there are several buoys placed between the piers, use them as navigational targets.

Tip #10: With surf, it is best to stay more outside. However, any inshore or off-shore currents should be checked. Ask the lifeguards on race day. Any positive currents, either in- or off-shore, would dictate a more inside or outside course.

Tip #11: As you approach the finish, sight behind you, looking for waves so you are not surprised with a volume of water crashing on you. If you are confident and experienced, attempt to ride every wave in.

Tip #12: Expect in-shore holes or uneven ground. Swim or dolphin over them.

Photo of 2006 race finish.

Copyright © 2010 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones