DISCLAIMER: Open-water swimming is inherently dangerous. Open-water swimmers risk drowning, hypothermia, hyperthermia, heart attacks, panic attacks, cramping, jelly fish stings, fish bites, boat or jet-ski collisions, collisions with floating or submerged objects (including other swimmers), and other calamities that can be injurious, disabling or fatal! The "West Neck Pod" is an informal association of open-water swimmers who swim "outside the lines" with no lifeguard protection, it has no formal membership, organizational structure or legal identity, and its participants, including the author of this blog, make no representations and assume no liability with respect to its group open-water swims. All swimmers who participate in West Neck Pod group open-water swims do so at their own risk. Be careful out there!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

"The Water-Log": Pulling the Plug...

Well, it looks like the open-water swimmers have said "No" to November....Even I couldn't bring myself to take the plunge on this cold, damp, dreary and miserable November 1st. I'm thinking the 2009 open-water swimming season may truly be over, and I'll have to wait until next year to test out my new insulated booties and gloves! It does seem like the end came unusually quickly this year, though -- my last OWS last year was November 7th, and I believe our favorite Canadian Rob Martell was still cavorting in the salt in December! Who knew we'd miss our ozone layer so much? I did get myself to West Neck Beach this afternoon, though, for one last look and a few farewell picures of a vista that I expect I won't be seeing again for a few more months (very few, I hope!). Until then, it's back to the pool for me, and for my open-water brethren (and sisthren). That means I'll be pulling the plug on "The Water-Log" (unless, of course, we get a sudden blast of Florida weather!), but that doesn't mean you won't be hearing from me...Stay tuned for "The Perils of Chlorine"!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Swim Deemed "Too Scary"!

Well, the headline for this morning's aborted open-water swim should read, "Halloween Swim Deemed 'Too Scary'!" As you know, I'm not particularly spooked by a little wave-action, but there was a wicked squall bearing down on West Neck Beach this morning, with a southeasterly wind howling across the water and roiling up white-caps as it met the incoming tide. The sky was dark and brooding over the water, and then the rain began, even as the sun was burning through the clouds further west. It was altogether a weird and spooky scene!

I may be getting senile, as Nancy Lipira says, but I'm not CRAZY, so I finally gave up the ghost and headed for the Y, joined by Tim Sullivan, who agreed with me that this Halloween swim promised too much "trick" and too little "treat"! As for tomorrow, the weather forecast is looking a little better, so it may be worth a try. If you have insulated booties and/or gloves (I just bought mine this week), you might want to bring them....That water felt COLD this morning! Happy Halloween, everyone!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Last Swim of 2009 -- But Who Knew?

For those who come out for open water swimming principally for the thrill of seeing Ken perform his morning ablutions on the beach, I'm sorry to announce that the thrill is gone....The showers are turned off and West Neck is now a "dry" beach. The water is still very swimmable, though -- once you get over the "brain freeze" when your face first hits the water. Ken Longo and I had a challenging swim out to the buoy this morning, as we were swimming against a brisk southerly wind and an outgoing current, but that made the ride back in a breeze! LOTS of moon jellies in the water...or were those ice cubes?? FYI -- It's still pitch dark at 6:30 these days, so weekday open-water swims may be over for the season. That's not true for Alphonse, however, who was already there and swimming in the total darkness by the time Ken and I arrived at the beach. He was coming out just as we were getting in -- I don't know if he's brave or crazy, but I give him a lot of credit for being out there day after day! I'm away this weekend so no swimming for me....See you next week. Bob Miller: Happy 60th Birthday in Bermuda, and congratulations on what I know will be a fabulous race!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rob Todd Goes "Commando"

The water at West Neck Beach was still shrouded in a dense fog at 8:00 this morning, but at least it was warmer than it had been on Friday -- the air temperature was a practically-tropical 63 degrees and the water temperature probably somewhere around 60 degrees....Ken and I were joined in the swim (from beach to buoy?-what-buoy? and back) by Jim Imhof (making his 2009 debut in October swimming), and the Roger Clemens of open-water swimming, Rob Todd, who announced his retirement from OWS last Tuesday, and came out of retirement on Sunday to round out our foursome.

Little did we know, Rob had nothing on under that wetsuit, as we learned when he emerged from the water at the end of the swim, stripped-off wetsuit strategically wrapped around his nether regions, and commenced backing carefully out of the water towards the showers (I assume in deference to me, the only woman there). I swear, there is never a camera around when you need one! Nevertheless, that is an image that will live in my memory long into my rocking-away-on-the-porch-of-the-old-folks'-home days. Rob's unabashed comment: "You have no idea how good that felt!" That of course prompted Ken (the former and now-dethroned King of Naked on the Beach) to propose that we all shun bathing suits for a truly natural OWS group swim -- sometime next season, I'm guessing. Stay tuned for posts of a Pod-wide skinny-dip....Or not! Swimming again Wednesday? Anyone?

Friday, October 2, 2009

October 2, 2009 OWS

Chilly, chilly morning down on the beach at West Neck today! The air temperature was probably a good 20-25 degrees colder than the water temperature (which is definitely on its way down, too!), and just at the surface of the water there was a layer of mist as the cold air met the warmer water....It was beautiful and a little mystical. The pictures from my cell-phone camera don't really do it justice, but you can see it if you look really closely. The water itself was beautiful -- clean, clear, not too cold, and just enough movement to make it interesting.

Ken, Chris and I swam out to the buoy and back on an incoming tide. Chris says this may be his last swim of the season; Ken and I are still holding out to see what the weekend will be like. Maybe we'll go again Sunday morning, if the weather holds out and it doesn't rain! Low tide will be at 5:42, so an 8:00 swim will give us an incoming middle-tide. It's still beautiful out there, Swimmers! See you in the water...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"The Water-Log" - October 1, 2009

I must say, I greatly enjoyed Bob & Ken's "my-pool's-better-than-your-pool" exchange, but not nearly as much as Rob Martell's hilarious response! I hope they take him up on his proposal - and I want a front-row seat! As far as I'm concerned, though, no pool can compare to open water, as I was reminded again this morning when I ventured to the Y as part of my transition back to indoor swimming. I love the Y (even though Ken's right and the water is too warm!), but in a pool you can only go so far and then you have to stop and turn around again....And then there are the other swimmers -- lots of them! The best thing about open-water swimming is that the faster swimmers are always in front of me and the slower swimmers are always behind me! So for me, the pool will be where I go to practice swimming, and the ocean will be where I go to swim....which is what I plan to do tomorrow (Friday) morning at West Neck at 6:30 with Ken, Chris and Jim (Carole's face is still swollen like a chipmunk's so she's still on the disabled list and won't be joining us). But FYI, if I get there and it's f-f-f-f-reezing, I'm n-n-not s-s-s-s-s-wimming....!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/27/09

Well, this morning's open water swim was a complete washout because of the rain, but it was nice to sleep late and let my arms recover from yesterday's first kayaking venture of the season. Carole and I took the double out, putting in at West Neck Beach (heading toward our favorite buoy), and had a ripping wind sending two-foot waves over the gunwales (of course we forgot to bring the skirt so we both got soaked - but it was a lot of fun -- it would have been fun swimming, too!). Speaking of ripping, Rob Ripp ripped up (down?) the Hudson yesterday, swimming a 5.8 mile race and coming in 35th overall and a scant three minutes behind the winning time! This is an amazing group of swimmers I get to hang out with!

By the way, attached are some pictures of Ken Longo from one of last week's swims, giving the rest of us some post-swim hygiene tips on proper tooth-brushing techniques and the application of hair conditioner. The showers at West Neck are still on, thank goodness!

Swimming again on Wednesday morning? 6:30? Anyone?

Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/25/09

We of the West Neck Pod have been swimming outdoors long and often enough to know that when you arrive on the beach and the current is running one way and the wind is blowing from the other, you're in for a rocky ride...and that's what seven of us had this morning as we were tossed like so many salads from beach to buoy and back again! But after the water had its way with us, we all arrived smiling on the beach, congratulating ourselves and each other on another perfectly gorgeous, exhilarating, can't-wait-to-do-it-again open water swim...See you Sunday morning at 8?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/24/09

Yesterday's swim -- the first of the Fall season -- was perfectly lovely, and even warmer than some of our recent "Summer" swims....The water is definitely getting cooler, but it's still perfectly comfortable (as Ken says, "after about 8 strokes"), and the air temperature was a surprisingly balmy 67 degrees! Tomorrow's supposed to be a little cooler, low around 49 degrees, but we've dealt with that before, haven't we! We're swimming tomorrow (Friday) morning at 6:30. High tide = 4:34 a.m., low tide = 10:49 am., so we'll have a nice outgoing tide for a buoy-to-beach swim. Anybody else? Let me/us know...

Monday, September 21, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/21/09

Four stalwarts (Margot, Ken, Rob Todd and I) braved the 49-degree air temperature at West Neck Beach this morning for what turned out to be one of the absolutely-most-perfect-swims-ever-in-the-history-of-the-world!! The water was warm (-ish), yesterday's wind was gone, and the harbor was smooth as a lake, so the trip out to the house at the end of the Causeway took about 25 minutes (that's MY time -- the boys of course got there first and were well into their chat-fest when I arrived -- by the way, look for Ken's e-mail giving the details of the swimming-vacation to Nassau that he's planning for the Pod in the Spring!). We zipped back on an incoming tide in about 15 minutes and kept noodling around in the water 'cause nobody wanted to get out! Part of what made today's swim so special, and even poignant, in a way, was that all of us recognized that it was almost certainly the LAST OPEN-WATER-SWIM OF THE SUMMER! Yes, Swimmers, the Fall Equinox takes place this year on Tuesday, September 22nd, at 2:18 p.m., and Summer is officially over! For some of us, of course, that doesn't mean the end of open-water swimming, and Ken, Carole and I (so far) are planning on going out again at West Neck on Wednesday morning at 6:30 (low tide = 8:16 a.m., high tide = 2:00 a.m., so we're probably looking at a buoy-to-beach swim). Margot will definitely NOT be joining us -- Today she announced her official retirement from open-water-swimming for the season, and is hanging up her wetsuit until at least, um, I'm guessing July! Hope you all had a great Summer -- see you in the Fall!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/19/09

Whew! Nancy, Scott, Don, Carole, Joanna and I swam the Causeway stretch this morning, into a brisk (chilly!) wind and a fast-running incoming tide -- REALLY challenging going out (someone kept moving the house!) but we absolutely FLEW coming back! Exhilarating! Of course, Nancy (who's training for an Ironman in Florida) had already swum to the buoy and back, so she did a full 5K swim this morning while I wimped out a few hundred yards short of the (still moving) house. Who says there are no heroes anymore??!! Some of us are going out again tomorrow at 8:00. Anybody else? Let me/us know!(low tide = 6:46 a.m., high tide + 12:45 p.m., so it'll still be an incoming tide).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/16/09

Didn't hear from anyone about a 6:30 swim so we decided to sleep in a bit this morning and try for a later swim. When we finally headed out about 7:00 it was raining, but Carole (talk about a conversion!) insisted that we go anyway. By the time we got to the beach the rain had stopped, and ten minutes into our swim the gray skies had turned blue and we had a truly glorious swim! The lines and buoys are gone (no place to tie up my sandals, alas!), and most of the boats are too, so the water is really, really BIG! Water temperature this morning was a cozy 67 degrees. Oh, and the gates are open all the time now, so you can drive right in to the parking lot! It just keeps getting better, Swimmers! Planning to swim again Friday/Saturday/Sunday mornings, weather permitting....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/15/09

Margot, Carole, Kathy and I had another lovely swim along the Causeway this morning, with the water a still-quite-comfortable 62 degrees, and a gentle incoming tide....I was planning to ride it out tomorrow and swim again on Wednesday, but the forecast for later in the week is for cold and rain, and I want to get in as many nice-weather OWS's as possible. I'm planning on swimming again tomorrow -- high tide is 8:36 a.m., so we can do a Causeway swim on an incoming tide if we start at 6:30. Anybody?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"The Water-Log" - 9/9/09

Ocean-swimmer Margot (and apparently Ken, too) was frightened off by a few early morning raindrops and skipped today's OWS, opting for the apparently-less-wet(?) pool, but the rest of us (Nancy, Tim, Carole, Kathy & I) had a lovely, lovely swim to the buoy and back on a brisk outgoing tide this morning. I'm planning on swimming again on Friday (and Saturday and Sunday as well), weather permitting. Let me/us know if you'll be joining us!