Call me foolish, but as I get older I occasionally feel the need to prove that I can “still do something”, or do something typically associated with younger folks. Yesterday was one of those days.
For several years I’ve thought about doing the Ocean Beach Pier Jump, a charity event put on by the SD Junior Lifeguard Association (now rebranded the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego), a nonprofit foundation of which my great friend Corey is the CEO. It’s a simple event – you make a donation to the PDFSD and you get to jump off the pier and swim to shore. In years past I was always at work, too busy, so with my birthday approaching this week I said “why not?”. Why not indeed.
So at 1pm on July 8th I found myself standing on the pier’s railing, more nervous than I had expected, ready to jump. Actually, we were instructed to step off the platform, not jump. Hence the title of this post. In this somewhat hard to see picture I’m the one in orange. The drop itself wasn’t too tough, though I didn’t exactly stick the landing. But I survived. Then came the tough part.
The ocean beach pier extends 1971 feet into the ocean. We jumped from its furthest point, so we had at least 2000 feet to swim in what turned out to be some fairly rough surf. With a wandering path and the back-forth ocean motion, it’s typically more like 2500-3000 feet to make it to shore. I was nervous about that from the beginning – while I swim just fine, I’m in marginal shape and don’t swim as exercise, ever. My hope was that the waves would help me paddle into shore quickly. As always, hope is not a strategy.
I started toward shore immediately after jumping, unlike the 20+ kids in the Jr. Lifeguard group who hovered just off the pier cheering their friends on. I figured I’d need the head start.
About two-thirds of the way in I started to get tired, both arms and thighs (remember, no swim exercise for me) and started to get a little concerned. I was still 250-300 yards off shore in strong surf.
About then one of the orbiting lifeguards came by on a jetski and asked “You OK? You gonna make it?”. Swallowing my pride I replied “I think so, but I wouldn’t turn down a ride.” He let me crawl up on a towed board and I held on for a high-powered ride to shore.
While I wanted to say I did the whole thing (jump plus swim), I was honestly exhausted. And relieved. How would it have looked if a good friend of the PDFSD’s CEO drowned at his fund raiser? So I took the ride for him.
All in all it was an epic day. I knocked something off the mental bucket list, supported a charity and got some hellacious exercise. And then collapsed for a solid evening on the couch.