By Lynn Kubasek
Back in the mid-1980’s, a group of UCI Master swimmers training for local open water swims were led by Mike Trudeau. Mike taught scuba to the local Laguna Beach lifeguards and was able to get access to the hot showers in the basement of the historic tower at main beach (we bet you did not know there were showers or a basement in that tiny tower). Swims were short and typically only from Main Beach to Bird Rock and back because our pioneers were inexperienced. It seemed like we were constantly pushing the boundaries with each swim.
In 1987, a group of NOVA masters swimmers that included Scott Zornig, Lynn Kubasek, Preston Drake, Margorie Roland, Keith Fieldhammer and others would meet regularly at Crescent Bay to swim to Seal Rock, Emerald Bay and even Irvine Cove. Our groups were small in the early years, but eventually Mike Suttle, Jim Fitzpatrick, Craig Taylor, Dan Sullivan and many more joined, and we then moved the starting location back to Main Beach. Crescent Bay and Main Beach were always our favorite beaches because they were the only two which had working showers albeit they were cold.
The two groups joined and Scott Zornig gave the call to open water swimmers for almost 20 years through an email list he had developed called “Open Water Swims.” There were about 40 swimmers, some of whom still swim with us today. Swims were usually out of Main Beach where everyone would gather at the tower and swim either north or south, depending on the whim of the group. They did not discriminate against those who chose to wear wetsuits although they were asked to stay 25 yards behind the “real swimmers.” New Years Day was always our largest turnout of the year.
During 2009, Lynn Kubasek and Patsee Ober met up with fellow NOVA swimmer, Chris Roberts at Oak Street to swim. Chris had swum Catalina Channel in 2008 with Lynn as kayak support. Chris set up the OCopenwaterswims google group and Lynn became the group moderator. Patsee Ober coined the Oak Streaker name from the Oak Street group and the name stuck. Marc Horowitz established a small spin off group that swam weekday mornings at Shaw’s Cove and eventually these two groups met and joined forces.
The group continued to flourish and was a great opportunity for open water swimmers training for local races, triathlons and marathon swims. Howard Burns (an old-timer) began to call out swims on a regular basis and did so for almost 10 years. Members of the group began to achieve open water and marathon swims goals each season. Peter and Carol Hayden, Tanya MacLean, Mike Mitchell, Cherie Edborg, Julie Flanagan, Natalie Merrow, and others, joined in the fun.
Almost 35 years later, we have grown to nearly 400 swimmers with 75 who are most active. In 2015 we unofficially adopted the new name L-BOWS and in late 2019 started this website.