The Weekly Margs by

O is for Ocean

It's out there, dude

The Big Blue Beyond

If you know me (or if even you’ve only read my newsletter and noticed some common themes and phrases), you know that I spend a lot of time swimming and talking about swimming. In the last few years, as I’ve really gotten into open water swimming, it’s lead to a lot of exciting trips and adventures with amazing views.

This week, we’re looking at photos of, in, and around the ocean. To say the ocean is a big part of my life might be an understatement.

Katie’s Catalina Swim

The first group of photos this week are from the same swim. I met Katie Pumphrey when I lived in DC, she was the Wednesday coach for the master’s team I swam with. Somehow we got to talking and it turned out she had swam the English Channel! As we were talking about future swims, she mentioned she was considering Catalina. Since I had just swam Catalina, I told her if she ever swam it, I’d be happy to crew for her. A year so later, she did, and of course I crewed for her! I brought my camera along to take a bunch of pictures for her when I wasn’t in the kayak, and thanks to some great conditions on the water, a lot of them turned out spectacular.

August 2018. Catalina Channel (off the coast of San Pedro, CA)

I caught this shot as Katie was feeding right around sunrise. Note the water bottle she’s holding attached to a rope (so it can be reeled back in to the boat after she’s done drinking). Here, her dad (in the back) and Ryan, one of the official observers are watching her and chatting while she feeds.

August 2018. Catalina Channel (off the coast of San Pedro, CA)

Most of open water swimming looks something like this from the boat: watching a swimmer go and often a kayaker padding next to them. Well, except the open ocean is not always this smooth and beautiful. Katie’s swim had amazing conditions, and the water was glassy like this pretty much the entire time.

August 2018. Catalina Channel (off the coast of San Pedro, CA)

For this one, off the bow of the boat, and I just love the texture of it. I think if the boat had been more level with the land, this may have qualified as an Accidental Wes Anderson shot: it’s fairly symmetric, lovingly textured, extremely precocious.

Elsewhere in California

I also wanted to highlight some other pictures of and near the ocean:

August 2019. Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA)

In our swim club, we call this the Red Nun buoy, it’s right outside the Golden Gate Bridge’s south tower. I really like all the layers in this photo, the bridge wrapped in fog and the buoy right near us, the textured water (especially compared to the previous photos of Katie’s swim), and the kayakers in the background. On this day, I was co-piloting for a swim that our club hosted for visiting Australians. We were waiting for the fog to clear up before dropping swimmers in the water to swim underneath the bridge. Maritime pro tip: the angle of a buoy like this is a good way to tell what the tides are doing. Since the buoy is vertical, it means that we were at a slack tide, instead of being pushed over by a flood or an ebb tide.

January 2020. Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA)

Sea otters are such precious creatures, they are always active and playful. This otter was swimming around near the windows of the tank, rolling around on its back. At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, this sea otter is part of a group of five or so “permanent residents” that aren’t eligible to be returned to the wild, but they do act as foster moms for otter pups are are being rehabbed there. That way, the pups don’t imprint on the human caretakers, and those pups can be released back with a better chance of survival.

January 2020. Monterey Bay Aquarium (Monterey, CA)

This is in front of the huge “open ocean” tank in the aquarium. I got lucky and caught this silhouetted shot of these strangers. I love how the people and the stroller are sorted by height, and that turtle majestically “flying” overhead.

That’s it for the week! Hope you enjoyed these, and see you next time!