This crossing seemed a bit more enjoyable then my last attempt. I approached the swim with a participant mentality instead of a racer mentality this go around. This helped me establish a more relaxed pace, which was smarter for the long haul. Plus my lack of yardage this year and racing without the wetsuit pretty much guaranteed I wouldn't be setting a PR, so it was a low pressure event.
A messed up elbow from a snowboarding accident kept me from doing a whole lot in the pool for much for February - March. Not sure what I did in April, but it wasn't much swimming. I did a 2.4 mile race beginning of May which did not leave me very confident that I had the swim endurance yet, so May was a crash month for me to jack up the yardage. From my logs I had 14 miles total swimming Jan thru April. Then in the next 6 weeks before the bay swim I put in 51 miles.
I did not know if I was going to wear the wetsuit or not until I got to the beach and felt the water. Reported water temps were 78 degrees, but felt over 80 near the shore line. So I opted to go without the wetsuit.
In the pre-race meeting they announced that this was the first time in 20 years that we would be hitting a low tide (Ebb to Flood) and also the warmest the water temperatures have been in those 20 years. In an effort to remove the pressure on people to wear wetsuits in the warm water temps they setup separate timing mats to register who was and wasn't wearing a wetsuit. As far as the tides go they predicted light currents and fast times, but admitted there was an unknown factor since the swim has never been done with these current conditions. Despite the water temperature being stupid warm the air temp was only low 80s with little to no wind. Water looked perfect.
First mile went well. A bit of bumping shoulders and people on my feet, but when you have that many people of similar speeds starting together it happens. I settled in to an easy/comfortable pace and hugged the left spans. Typically the current pulls North for the first stretch, making it a struggle to complete the turn. This year the first bend seemed to go smoothly, until about where the bridges started to straighten out about 1 - 1.5 miles in. Then, in a split-second it felt like we were all suddenly moved to the other side of the spans. Everyone started swimming diagonally just to stay within the bridges. Much stronger current then I was expecting.
This kept up until we crossed the first channel where things then calmed back down a bit. Pace picked back up for the next mile. Water remained fairly flat with really nice conditions until we hit the second span and again had to deal with the large rollers. Current thru this channel was not an issue though.
From the second channel to the turn out of the bridge was the most mentally draining stretch of the swim. Scenery doesn't change much and it feels like it lasts forever. Somewhere during this stretch I vowed never to do this swim again (same spot as last time).
When we hit the turn out of the bridges the current had shifted and was now flowing against us. The water was whipping around the land making forward progress slow considerably.
After really pushing this stretch to get past the current I stopped in the now shallow waters and dolphin dove for a bit till I regained myself, then swam it in.
Something like 90 people were pulled from the race. Thunder storms rolled in towards the end and the Coast Guard decided to pull people still in the water. Sucks.
Next time I'll apply body glide to my neckline. Even without the wetsuit I got a bit of chaffing from the brackish water.
Don't think I'd wear a wetsuit unless the water temps were below 76.