It will feel colder then it sounds.<br><br>
When I got my diving certification, it was an open water, Atlantic ocean swim in December. Oce we were in the water and adjusted, it wasn't too bad. Oh once we got out of the water, it didn't take long for ice to form on my gear.
I did the California 70.3 last year in Oceanside where the water temp was 53. My first thought while stepping off the boat ramp into the water was "No Freakin Way!!". That lasted about one minute into the swim before it went away and I didn't even notice. As long as you have a wetsuit and a swim cap you will be fine. Just relax and get into a rhythm, you'll be fine.
I did a sprint tri in 62 water temps. FYI, wetsuits were mandatory for the HIM'rs per the RD.<br><br>
I wore a wetsuit but my face was freezing. It gives you a headache and makes your sinuses hurt. Definitely wear a wetsuit, neoprene booties and cap if you have them. If not double up your swim caps, put Vaseline on your face and spend time dunking before swimming to acclimate.
My experience echoes everyone's here. You'll feel the cold at first (my first OWS were in temps ranging from 52-56) but if you're wearing a wetsuit and swim cap, you'll eventually warm up.<br><br>
As a relative newbie who was just learning to swim, I know I felt a tad freaked out when I realized I didn't have a pool bottom to stand on or pool wall to grab. It took me a few moments to trust that my wetsuit would keep me buoyant and that I could always flop onto my back or go into sweet spot should I need to. Also, you may want to test out your sighting skills at the pool if you haven't already - you won't see anything but the ocean water once you get far enough from shore.<br><br>
Finally, like LRR said, the water will be salty. The taste is off-putting at first, but you get used to it after awhile.
I know you've done open water swims in races, so the potential for low visibility shouldn't spook you. The cold will be the main thing. As everyone has said, 57 will be bracing. It will take your breath away at first. Just stick with it and stay calm and you'll be fine. You'll be more buoyant in your wetsuit in the salt water. It would be really, really tough sink. You know you can swim, so just try to relax and let yourself get used to the cold. If you don't have much of a break to deal with, dunk under and even pull open the neck of your suit a bit to let some water in. The sooner it gets in and warmed up, the better off you'll be.<br><br>
Before you even go in, watch the water a bit to see how the waves are breaking. Get an idea of how many waves there are in each set and how long it is between waves. If you have to deal with a break, make sure not to turn your back on the waves. If you're walking through waves, turn sideways as they come up on you so they can go past you less resistance. If you're still walking, but not ready to dive under, yet the waves are little bigger, you can sometimes kind of bounce over them if you give a little hop as the wave comes toward you.<br><br>
If you have breaking waves big enough to dive under, you'll want to dive under around 6-8 feet before the wave gets to you. Keep your hands out in front of you to protect your head (and to streamline). Don't dive super deep or you'll hit bottom. You'll eventually learn to dive under and grab some sand to hold on and/or pull yourself forward under the wave. But the main thing is to go under and stay under until the wave passes over you. It's calm underneath. After the wave passes, push off the bottom with your feet to pop up on the other side. If there's not another wave on top of you, catch a breath and go for it -- start swimming. The first time I went out it was probably around 55 and my brain would not let me keep my face in the water. It was ridiculous. Every time I put my face in the water, it popped right back out. You'll do MUCH better. It was my first OW swim. And I'm from the Midwest, so ocean swimming was completely alien to me. 99.9 percent of my brain was totally jazzed to be out there. .1% thought I was insane. That day, it was a powerful .1 percent.<br><br>
If there's a break, be careful on the exit. If the waves are big, hang out a bit beyond the break to get a feel for how the waves are breaking and how often they're are coming. Your more experienced swim buddy could be a help here by swimming a little ahead of you and keeping an eye on you and the waves.<br><br>
Keep in mind that every now and then a bigger wave will come in, so as you start swimming, you'll want to look behind you every couple of breaths. If you see something big coming and think you're close to the break, just go under until it passes. Again, keep your hands out in front/over your head for protection. (Streamlined position.)<br><br>
Once your feet are back on solid -- or even sandy -- ground, don't forget to keep an eye on the waves. This is a classic time for a wave to sneak up on you and give you a little surprise.<br><br>
Okay, I've got the 11 o'clock news on in the background, and big waves near Carlsbad are making the news. Please make sure conditions are reasonable for your first swim. I'm guessing whoever invited you knows what they're doing and won't take you out if the conditions aren't good. They should give you some instruction and walk you through everything. Also keep in mind the SoCal rains tend to make water quality poor with all kinds of nasty run-off. There are websites that will have info on water quality and surf websites are good for wave info. (Bad surf = good swimming!)<br><br>
Once you're warmed up, and if you have the energy, a great way to work on getting through the surf is just to stand in the break and practice diving under wave after wave. You'll get the timing quicker this way. It will become routine... it may even become fun. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif"><br><br>
And LRR's right about the salt water taste. Before my first OW swim (which was also my first ocean swim), I'd watched the Open Water Swimming DVD and researched and researched, and visualized and visualized, but after I dove under that first wave, my first thought was, "Oh, I forgot it would <i>taste</i> salty. Doh!"<br><br>
Ocean swimming is really wonderful. You're going to love it. Have faith in your training. Relax, relax, relax. And keep an eye out for Swimmerbee and her dolphin pals. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
I'll hold onto you...you do the swimming! <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"><br><br>
TriAndStopMe, thank you for the detail. That helps me to visualize beforehand. It didn't occur to me that the water would be salty (duh!). Not being able to see the bottom once I'm out is intimidating, but really, it's getting into that cold cold water that is daunting. I'll be with two other people, so they'll be looking after this newbie like hawks, I'm sure. <img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif"><br><br>
Again, thank you. I'm excited to find me a group to swim with and though I'm scared, I know it's give me an enormous mental edge and confidence if I can get out there and do an ocean swim. I'll let you know how it goes.<br><br>
I will say this about cold water....<br><br>
EASING in....doesn't make it easier.<br><br>
Unless it's super super cold, and you're worried about shock or something...<br>
if you've got a wet suit...that shouldn't be too much of a problem.....<br><br>
Just jump in...<br>
or, do a running dive from the beach<br><br>
Don't try to inch in. It just doesn't work.
I don't have much experience in that temperature (did Outward Bound a long time ago and we were asked to swim in some pretty cold water--but never for too long).<br><br>
At first, I had thought you were talking about a race and was going to suggest you check to make sure they allow wetsuits. (Some don't, even in pretty cold water.) But since that doesn't apply, I'd definitely go with a wetsuit in the temps you're talking about, especially since it's your first time in the ocean!<br><br>
I did an ocean swim about two and a half years ago, and I was absolutely terrified of ocean swimming--had never done any practice swims prior to doing the race, and wondered if I'd survive just going through the breakers. Was a little concerned about the temp too since I didn't (still don't) own a wetsuit. Wasn't as cold as your swim by any means--low sixties was what they said but maybe b/c of the hot weather that day, it didn't feel that cold to me. Had decided against buying or borrowing a wetsuit and didn't regret it--but that was summer and as mentioned pretty hot. With the conditions you're talking about, plus the fact that it's not a race, I'd go w/ the wetsuit for sure.<br><br>
One thing that helps me in any open water swim--especially if there's any chop: bilateral breathing. I'm really, really glad I got comfortable with it. I wasn't stressing only one side of my body but having both sides work in cooperation. Also, I could adjust the side I breathed on depending on where the waves were coming in.<br><br>
There's an article by Terry Laughlin in USMS Swimmer (March/April 2007) with some great tips on open water swimming. I used them and found that I could swim longer distances a lot more easily in training and in open water.<br><br>
Also (this is hearsay, but I wish I'd tried it): if you tend to get seasick, try mixing a couple drops of ginger extract in water before you take your swim... that or some ginger snaps. Or whatever way you deal with staving off seasickness. (A friend recommends against dramamine unless you've tried it and are comfortable w/ its effects on you.) One thing I found though: when I was seasick, it didn't help to stop swimming. I felt better if I just kept on going. Oddly, it didn't bother me nearly as much as I expected it to.<br><br>
It's a terrific adventure--mix of scary and exciting, with the exciting part being what you'll remember and the scary aspect just giving your stories more spice! Have fun! <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
If you are swimming near Long Beach or Corona Del Mar, there are areas where there aren't any waves due to the break waters or the direction the beach faces.<br><br>
Usually the water is so murky due to the salt, I can't even see my elbow in the water much less my hand.<br><br>
Salt water tastes Nasty. I find that reallly strong sports drink will get the taste out of my mouth after a swim. Other people like gum or mints. I find a bottle of water just doesnt get the salt taste out very fast.<br><br>
If you ever get a chance to swim in Lake Mission Viejo take it. You need to be invited by a resident of Mission Veijo to get in. However the water is Crystal Clear, and the water doesn't taste bad at all.<br><br>
The resevoir at Bonelli Park out in San Dimas where they do a lot of tri's isnt too bad either. Not as clear as Lake Mission Viejo, but the water doesnt taste too bad and more visibility than the ocean.<br><br>
Where did you get your wet suit? I still need one. I got away with swimming in the ocean in the summer, but that was around 62 degrees and only half mile swim.
I belong to the Orange County Tri Club, so I know several folks that live there.<br><br>
Btw, you would be welcome to come to any of the club training rides, swims or runs a few times for free to see if you like the people.<br><br>
I think the guest fee for using Lake Mission Viejo is 2 dollars per visit. The tri club does their club tri in that lake, and I absolutely loved it. In warmer months they usually train there I think on Tuesday evenings. They also train at Corona Del Mar beach on Sundays when the water warms up.<br><br>
We do a 32 mile bike ride up Santiago Canyon almost every Saturday morning weather and mudslides permiting.
Oddly enough, I actually kind of like the taste of salt water when swimming in it--though not especially when just drinking it (not that I do this on a regular basis, but I have tried a little salt in water as a sports drink substitute on someone's recommendation and didn't care for it at all).<br><br>
Much of my early swimming instruction took place in salt water. So I got comfortable with it early and don't even think of it now.
See, I need to ride and o/w with a group, but I can't make it to every event, and I don't want to pay to occasionally make it to scheduled workouts. Also, I've never done a biek workout with a group. It's my weakest discipline and besides, I am afraid that I'd become that insufferable newbie.<br><br>
I appreciate the invitation and will look into the club. I'd really like to mee tup for the Santiago Canyon ride, but I think I'll wait until I secure the financing for clipless pedals and can clip/unclip confidently and comfortably. Still saving up my money. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">