The Dwight Crum Pier to Pier 2 mile rough water Swim

5 Tips for a great ocean swim

The Dwight Crum Pier to Pier 2 mile rough water Swim: 5 Tips for a great swim by: Micah Carlson photo: Vidal - Easy Reader

Going into my 19th consecutive year participating in the pier-2-pier swim I thought I would share some thoughts for those who are new to this event. First, this is one of my favorite events to be a part of every year. From the crowd of participants and volunteers at the start line, to the receiving crowd of family, friends, and volunteers at the finish line – this event feels more like a family reunion than a competition!

Now for some tips:

  1. Get familiar with the area, doing a “bottom check” – Start AND Finish

A few days out, there is still time (for most) to head down to Hermosa Beach pier and jump in the water at 10th street (south of the pier) where the race starts, AND head over to Manhattan Pier and check out the north side. Walk out into the water and get a feel for any holes, rocks or irregularities that are present on the bottom.  This will help you have an idea of what you will be running/walking into and out on during the race.

  1. Plan ahead

Parking at both Hermosa and Manhattan piers can be problematic during the Surf Festival weekend. Carpool with other swimmers (if possible), or have family/friend drop you off at the start before heading to find parking near the Manhattan pier.

Pick up your race packet on Saturday afternoon. Race day check-in adds stress and time to your morning. Race organizers started doing this a few years ago, and it has drastically cut down on Sunday morning check-in times.

  1. Play

If you are new to surf entries and exits (or just uncomfortable with surf), get down to the beach this week and just play in the surf near shore on the north side of Manhattan pier. In my 18+ years of finishing this race I have never seen the finish area NOT have surf. The best way I have found to get swimmers comfortable with the surf is to have them go play, bodysurf, and splash around in the surf. As always, CHECK IN WITH THE LIFEGUARD ON DUTY before heading into the water. They will be able to point out current conditions that you may need to be aware of.

  1. Be Aware

This follows up with #3… as you swim around Manhattan pier and head for the finish line, pick your head up every few strokes and look around. Look for the finish line itself so you are not swimming off course. Look for other swimmers so that you don’t collide with them in the water. Lastly, but, most importantly, LOOK FOR SURF. As I said in #3 I have NEVER seen a finish that did not have some surf. As you swim into and through the surf zone keep looking around – mixing in some backstroke helps – so that a wave does not sneak up behind you. There will be plenty of lifeguards in the water at the finish to help you if you need it. But, help yourself first – look around.

  1. Smile and HAVE FUN

This race is about fun! There is no prize money for the winners – only Pride. And the same is waiting for you at the finish line! Because in the end, if you’re not having fun, is it really worth it?!

Micah Carlson is a local Recurrent Ocean Lifeguard with LA County Fire Department and 3-time winner of the Dwight Crum Pier-2-Pier race. Micah has competed in swimming at Mira Costa HS, El Camino College, and Arizona State University, and has competed in Surf Lifesaving competitions for over 15 years.


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