Zigzagging Through Kelp Beds In Santa Barbara

Zigzagging Through Kelp Beds In Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara 6-mile Ocean Swim was held today at the Semana Nautica Sports Festival where 32 participants competed in the competition. The race ran along the California coastline from Goleta Beach to Arroyo Burro Beach near the University of California Santa Barbara campus as thousands of Americans enjoyed a peaceful summer day.

However, the beautifully clear day with plenty of sunshine and beach crowds was a misleading facade of the ocean. The swimming conditions were significantly rougher than expected or that appeared to the naked eye onshore.

Veteran waterman Rob Dumouchel described his experience, “Overall this was a real deal ocean swim. It was definitely a challenge but a whole lot of fun. We had big swells coming from our right, a current underneath us pushing back toward the start, and plenty of opportunities to work on your kelp crawling skills. I was a little worried about my kayaker up in the boat, but she was a total trooper and did a great job keeping us on track.The water was rough enough that some other kayakers took tumbles into the water during the race. I really liked the course. Jane put on a really cool event, and I hope I can come back and swim it again next year!” Rob completed the race in 3 hour 19 minutes.

“Of the 9 years I’ve swam this event, this was the roughest one yet,” described veteran Bill Ireland of Venice who has swum in some pretty lumpy conditions in four continents over his long career.
“The current was pretty strong and there were times when there were little rogue 3 footers. My kayaker, Amy Ahearn, was way up at times and i was way low. it was a strong north current and we were swimming. There were times wen i was swimming in place. My time this year was 3 hours 59 minutes and last year I completed the same race in 2 hours 42 minutes. I didn’t see anyone for the last 1.5 hours other than my kayaker as I was zigzagging through the kelp beds, but I was still determined to finish the race,” explained Catalina Channel swimmer Natalie Merrow of Long Beach.

Difficult, yes. Challenging, for sure. Lumpy and bumpy, check. Just another open water swim for 32 hardy athletes. The entire field started and finished.

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Steven Munatones