My Next Fitness Challenge. YIKES!

Remember this postcard?

I first shared it about six weeks ago, shortly after receiving it in the mail. It’s for the Distance Swim Challenge, an open water swim in the Pacific Ocean in August, and…

…I just signed up.

My heart is already racing with excitement and nerves!

I’ve been thinking about registering for this event for a while now. I held off on registering earlier, because when the postcard arrived, I already had two events lined up: My 163-story stair climb, and the BolderBOULDER 10K race. I didn’t want to get too far ahead of myself.

But both of those events are now over, and I like having a fitness goal to work towards. That’s why I signed up. The Distance Swim Challenge has a bunch of events, ranging from 1.2 miles all the way to 12.6 miles (!). I signed up for 1.2 miles, mainly because you need to qualify for all the longer events, either by proving you’ve swum an event like this before (which I haven’t), or by completing the Lifeguard Checkout Swim (which is being held on a day that I’m not available).

1.2 miles will be plenty. That’s a long way when you’re in the ocean. It’s actually shorter than most of my swimming workouts, but I still think it’ll be tough, because, like I said when I first blogged about this event, open water swimming is a whole different beast than pool swimming:

Open water swimming is quite different than pool swimming, and by ‘quite different’ I mean ‘much harder.’ Pools don’t have waves to contend with (sure, there are little ones made by other swimmers, but the lane lines break them up). Pools also have walls, so every 25 yards you can push off and gain momentum for the next length. Oceans lack both walls and lane lines, but they do have currents and waves, so addition to moving your arms and legs, you gotta pay attention, so you’re moving in the right direction (or risk swimming way off course or in giant circles). Plus, the lack of walls and the presence of currents (which may be working with or against you, depending on where you want to go) means it’s quite difficult to gauge how far you’ve swum (and how much remains), and that can really challenge your endurance, pacing, and stamina. Oh, and have I mentioned that oceans are salt water, whereas most pools aren’t?

There’s also sharks. I’m not afraid of sharks, but the list of differences between pools and oceans would be incomplete without them.

I’ve always been a very capable swimmer. There was a pool in our backyard when I was growing up, and I have memories of hanging out in the pool in an inner tube as a toddler, before I even knew how to swim. I swam on competitive swim teams from elementary school until my sophomore year in high school, and I played water polo for two years.

I know I can do this. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. It means I’ll have to train.

The Distance Swim Challenge is 9.5 weeks away. My training goal is to swim at least once a week from now until then, with a couple of those workouts in the ocean. 

I’m not gonna try any ocean swimming until I get a wetsuit, which will be needed because the Pacific Ocean is cold. The currents bring cold water down from the north – unlike the Atlantic Ocean, where the currents bring warmer water up from the tropics.

I’ve only worn a wetsuit once before in my life, when I went snorkeling in Mexico about a year and a half ago. Here’s a picture:

If anyone has any good wetsuit shopping tips, please share in the comments section! I figure I’ll start my research at all my favorite autoerotic asphyxiation websites. 


The Distance Swim Challenge is also a fundraiser that benefits three charities. I was able to choose, during registration, one of them that will receive the funds that I raise, and I chose the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. I like helping kids.

I know I spent two whole months earlier this year urging you to donate to one of my stair climb events, and I’m not about to spend another two months urging you to open your wallets again. So I’m only going to ask once – right now – and that’s a promise. While I’d like to raise as much as I can, because it’s a wonderful, local cause, I only need to raise $100 in order to participate. So if you’d like to support me by making a donation, that would be wonderful. I’d greatly appreciate it, as would the kids at the Children’s Hospital. Click here to make a donation on my fundraising page! Thank you!

I just proofread this post, and my heart started racing again. HOLY CRAP, I’m doing an open water swim!

Keep it up, David!

7 Responses to My Next Fitness Challenge. YIKES!

  1. Emma says:

    When you buy a wetsuit, make sure it’s practically impossible to get on and off. That way you are more likely to stay warm, This seems counter-intuitive, but you do NOT want a wetsuit too big! It helps that if you get one that fits you properly, the lovely elastic properties will end up attacking your physique to a ‘more’ desirable shape!

  2. TC says:

    Wow what a great challenge, I’ve have a pool at my YMCA, but have been so intimated about getting my bathing suit on. I love to swim but as always, I have to get my nerve up to try something new in my gym. My goal is to do a beginner triathlon so I just have to suck it up and get into the pool. Do you have a pool at your gym? Also aren’t the currents in the ocean really hard to swim against? I’m on the east coast and sometimes swimming in the ocean against the current can be next to impossible or are you going to be swimming in the bay? Keep us updated on your training.

    • David says:

      I don’t have a pool at my gym, but there is a public pool in a park about 10-15 minutes away that I love. And this event is in the ocean – no bay or harbor or marina – right off the coast of Venice Beach and Santa Monica!
      I can totally relate to having apprehension about trying new things at the gym – except that swimming was never one of them for me. Good luck and have fun in the pool! Then KEEP IT UP! -David

  3. Mary Ann says:

    Wooo So impressed. Being from the Midwest I never actually knew of an Open Water Swim Fundraiser. But what a fantastic idea for all you coastal people – With your swimming exp. you’ll do well. Train, Train, Train and Keep it up Dave!

    • David says:

      Thanks! I grew up in the midwest too (Michigan) – and I hadn’t really ever heard of them either, but when I was looking into them a few weeks ago, I found them all over the place: Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota… in lakes, Great Lakes, reservoirs, rivers… people love swimming! I gathered lots of people complete as part of their triathlon training.

  4. Holly says:

    Congrats on your new fitness challenge! That sounds like it’s going to be a ton of fun (and hard work). You can do it!!!

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