By: Clyde Floyd
You’ve accepted the challenge and signed up for the Triathlon at Pacific Grove so now what about dealing with the famed Kelp Crawl? Oh, and did they mention COLD water.
The cove at Lover’s Point is the home of a good deal of kelp, and we get to swim through it and maybe even over it. The first time you swim here it can be a little intimidating. Envision a scene from your favorite B Sci-Fi flick, the seaweed grabbing at your ankles and pulling you down …well that’s Hollywood and not reality. The kelp will be in patches of different thicknesses, and there will be ‘channels’ of open water. A first thought is what does it feel like? To me it has a little of a plastic feel to my hands, but when a leaf slides across your face, it has a rough sandpapery feel to it, but no worries it won’t scrape up your skin or draw blood.
Doc Waddel describes an effect of the kelp, as being similar to the ‘Chinese finger trap’ toy. If you happen to get a piece of kelp around your arm, and you try to just jerk your arm free, it might tighten on you, so its best to relax and use a steady pull, and again that nice smooth swim stroke. I would not recommend grabbing the kelp and using it to pull your way through. The kelp is attached at the bottom to rocks, and when you grab a handful and pull, it can just pull the rock away from the bottom, or completely tear away—either way not real effective for forward propulsion through the water. As each wave of racers goes through, the kelp on the surface will get torn up, and if you are racing the Sprint race on Sunday, lucky you, the kelp will be pretty shredded up from the Olympic distance racers on Saturday!
The water in the Monterey Bay has an average temperature of 58 degrees F in September..brrrrr! A wetsuit is a huge help, you might see a few brave (crazy) souls without a wetsuit but not me! Also, a neoprene swim cap helps, or even double up on your regular swim cap. Either way put your goggles on under your last swim cap. Take advantage of the time before your startwave to get in the water and get a feel for the water, and the cold.
The 2011 race will be my third time doing the Triathlon at Pacific Grove. It is such a beautiful course, that it is now a must do for my race calendar. One of the cool things is during the swim, as I get in a grove, I try to actually look around under the water. The kelp, and the rest of the world under the water is such an awesome sight. Try to relax and get a few good glances of this world and its beauty! You can now make your friends envious, because you have conquered the Kelp Crawl and lived to tell about it!
Relax, have fun, and have great experience that will bring you back again and again!