Locals take their fitness routine into the ocean.
By Somer Flaherty
Lynn Kubasek grew up connected to the local waters. Her parents were surfers and she spent her summers as a junior lifeguard in nearby Huntington Beach. However, it wasn’t until after college that Lynn really pursued swimming. Interested in pier-to-pier ocean swims, she would compete in weekend competitions and join friends in getting exercise by doing laps in the Pacific. More than three decades later, she is ocean-swimming five days a week, and is a member of Laguna’s Oak Street swim group. In 2009, Lynn successfully crossed the Catalina Channel, and in 2011, added the Santa Barbara Channel, from Anacapa Island to Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard, to her accomplishments. We caught up with Lynn to see what advice she has for those new to the sport.
Laguna Beach Magazine: Do you swim alone or with a group?
Lynn Kubasek: I’m the moderator of OC Open Water Swims, and there are 135 people in that group ranging from age 14 to about 70. We swim Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Shaw’s Cove at 6 a.m., and we’ve been doing a Friday swim at happy hour. If we are doing a dark night swim, we’ll bring our glow sticks. We usually have a count-off procedure for safety purposes. The fastest swimmers will stop every 500 feet or so and everyone catches up and counts off.
LBM: You’ve been swimming locally almost your entire life. What do you love about it?
LK: Laguna Beach really is the best. A friend of mine was swimming at Oak Street and sent me a text calling it his “own personal aquarium.”
LBM: What tips do you have for those that have never done laps in the ocean?
LK: First, be sure that you’re a competent pool swimmer. Try a pool-swimming group to build your stamina, confidence and stroke before taking your swim to the ocean.
LBM: And when they’re ready for an ocean swim, then what?
LK: Always go out with someone. If you ever swim alone, let a lifeguard know that you’re going out and where you plan to swim.
LBM: What swim routes do you recommend?
LK: Where the steps are at Oak Street—swim past the breakers to the buoy and back. That’s about 1.65 miles.
LBM: What about night swimming?
LK: I go out at Shaw’s Cove year-round at about 6 a.m., so sometimes it’s very dark and we’ll go out with glow sticks. Right now I’m training to do a Catalina relay swim, so we have to train at night, too.
LBM: How long are your swims?
LK: About an hour, but if you’re training for a relay or a race it can be three or four hours.
LBM: What type of wildlife do you see while swimming in Laguna?
LK: Garibaldi, big rays, sea lions and dolphins. I also got my first stingray sting last Sunday—it was incredibly painful and put me down for a whole week.
LBM: What gear is needed for this sport?
LK: Some people wear wet suits or swim fins, and a swim cap will also keep you warm. A lot of swimmers will double-cap in the winter. For safety reasons, you also want a brightly colored swim cap so people can see you. Goggles and earplugs are also a personal choice.
LBM: You’re a grandmother of two, and still find energy to get out there and swim most days. What’s your secret?
LK: It’s a life-affirming sport. You are close to nature, you’re getting to work out your body, and some mornings we’re out there and we just have the most beautiful views.
Get the gear you’ll need to start swimming in Laguna’s backyard.
By Somer Flaherty
You don’t need a lot of gear to take up ocean swimming, but a few essentials—like the right goggles and brightly designed swim cap—will make your experience a bit easier, so you can concentrate on getting a workout and enjoying the sights. LBM
Quiksilver Towel at Hobie Surf Shop, Laguna Beach (949-497-3304; hobiesurfshop.com)
Hydro Swim Cap at Big 5 Sporting Goods, Laguna Hills (949-362-9011; big5sportinggoods.com)
Da Fin Pro swim fins at Thalia Surf Shop, Laguna Beach (949-497-3292; thaliasurf.com)
Speedo Offshore goggles at Sport Chalet, Costa Mesa (714-424-9255; sportchalet.com)
Sportkini Gerber daisy swimsuit at sportkini.com (949-371-5584)