Persistent heavy rains and generally dreary weather threw a wet blanket over this week's planned open-water swims, sending some of us back to bed and others back to the YMCA pool...a venue that Nancy Lipira and I had not visited since the start of the open-water swimming season on Memorial Day weekend!
It was great to reconnect with our long-lost "Chlorine" buddies, most notably Coach Bob Miller and HUMS blogographer Mike Engel, along with a dozen or so of the "usual suspects," and Nancy and I quickly fell into the routine of repeated sets of 100's on increasing intervals -- but for us "Saltines" the contrast between the pool and the open water was dramatic....Accustomed to swimming in water that is by now in the low- to mid-70's, I found the 84-degree temperature of the pool to be something of a challenge. Even more challenging was the "turn at the wall" after every 17 strokes or so, as compared to the “turn at the sailboat” after three-quarters of a mile....! And with about a dozen Masters swimmers churning up the fast lane, forming a nearly continuous nose-to-toes loop, I found myself yearning for the spaciousness of open-water swimming, where I am comforted in my solitude by the occasional glimpse of another brightly colored cap over the crest of a distant swell....!
The weather report for tomorrow and the upcoming weekend is for clear, sunny skies, so I plan to return to the open water tomorrow for my "morning constitutional" and resume my almost-daily swims at West Neck Beach. (I'm particularly looking forward to this coming Sunday's "one-way swim" -- see the August 19th post.) Still, I feel a chill in the morning air these days, and the water temperature seems to be dropping rapidly, and I sense that the end of the 2010 open-water swimming season is approaching...As I contemplate the inevitable return to the pool, or "closed-water" swimming, I am reminded that it was in that pool, during those long winters, doing those endless interval sets, chasing swimmers who were faster and stronger than me, that I acquired the skills and technique and endurance that make my open-water swims feel so effortless and blissful. So while I'm hoping to continue swimming outdoors well into November(!), the first snowfall won't really break my heart. Besides, there's always cross-country skiing!!
See you in the Salt!
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!