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, October 31, 2010

Halloween swim frightfully good!

The last several days' flurry of e-mails reflected our anxiety and apprehension about this morning's planned Halloween open-water swim. Despite the summer-like temperatures of the past week, the thermometer had suddenly plummeted, and the forecast was for much colder weather. With colder weather comes colder water, and the fingers and toes of some of us were still tingling from last weekend's bone-chilling immersion. Friends' and family's uncomprehending comments and dire warnings added to our apprehensions -- as did my own laser thermometer readings from both the dock and the water's edge...The water was definitely getting colder, and a Halloween swim began to seem more and more scary....

So when we arrived at the beach at noon today in brilliant sunshine (having pushed back the start time to take advantage of the day's warming temperatures) and were met by a howling northwest wind and an endless vista of surging white-capped waves, it was enough to make us change our minds and head back home to wait for trick-or-treaters.  All of us, that is, except Rob Martell, who, mindful of the day, stepped out of his Honda Element-cum phone booth clad in his red and black wetsuit, blue swim cap, and long red cape flapping wildly behind him in the wind, looking like the superhero we all know him to be!

Of course, the rest of us couldn't resist (well, Gae could -- after dipping her toes in and bleating like a slaughtered lamb -- she stayed on the beach shooting most of the photos and videos you see here).  So Rob Martell, Bonnie Millen, Rob Todd, Nancy Aboff (here to earn her Pod swim cap!) and I threw ourselves into the onrushing waves -- which promptly tried to throw us back again. It was rough swimming into the wind and against the incoming tide (even the seagulls were flying backwards, beating their wings uselessly against the wind [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNg9T5ErkEM]), so we paid a hurried visit to the dock and then turned back to body surf our way back to the beach where our cheerleaders (Gae Polisner, Joan Valerio, Joye Brown, Evelyn Cruise, Bonnie's friend Jo, and HUMS blogographer Mike Engel) were waiting.  (See Mike's report and photos at http://hums.blogspot.com/2010/10/open-water-halloween-swim-west-neck.html and Joan's video complete with howling wind sounds at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTlnAqBxqsk.)

On the way, Rob Todd smashed head-on into a barnacle encrusted mooring ball, cutting his scalp through two swim caps -- but what's Halloween without a little blood and gore?

We emerged from the water exhilarated and smiling, and making plans to do it again -- in November!

See you in the Salt!

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