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 24, 2010

October 24th: Still Swimming...!

 The morning clouds had nearly dissipated, the flag hung limply in a windless sky, and the water lay flat and calm -- much to the relief of the ten intrepid swimmers who gathered at West Neck Beach this morning intent on etching another OWS notch onto our goggle-straps.  

Rob Martell, just back from a 6-mile run, sat steaming on the bench in the 48-degree air as he donned his new full wetsuit, while Rob Todd pulled on his "long-john," leaving his arms and shoulders bare.  But when Tommy Capobianco arrived in his suit, fresh from church, and (having forgotten to pack his wetsuit) proceeded to strip down to his Speedo, the Pod gained a new hero! 
With all swimmers wearing the new Pod swim caps bestowed on them by the "Fairy Pod-Mother," we posed for pictures on the beach (taken by Jim Imhof, who, along with Margot Edlin, Joye Brown and Greg Linakis came to cheer us on -- or administer CPR!). 

Then we all (Rob Todd, Rob Martell, Bonnie Millen, Ken Longo, Mike Paradise, Tommy Capobianco, Don Bond, Carole Wickham, Annmarie Kearney-Wood, and I) plunged into the 55-degree water with a collective scream.  After a dozen or so strokes, the nearly naked Tommy (well, really, how big is a Speedo?) still couldn't catch his breath, and wisely returned to the beach and relative warmth.  He said afterwards:
"It didn't feel as shocking as I thought it would and I really wanted to stay out there with all of you in just my Speedo but I was honestly afraid that once my slow moving brain realized how cold my body was I might be out too far and be in trouble.  Hope you had a good swim!!
The rest of us doggedly continued swimming, and as the initial shock of the cold water wore off, the bone-chilling pain in our exposed faces, hands and feet turned to a far more bearable numbness. (The water also warmed up somewhat once we got north of the dock and beyond the cold springs for which Cold Spring Harbor is so aptly named.)  As we swam, we experienced a growing sense of exhilaration, and kept extending our goals: first, "to the dock," then "to the end of the mooring field," and then "to the first sign along the Causeway" (all of us, that is, except for Mike Paradise and Rob Tobb, who kept swimming north, nearly to the sailboat mooring, before turning back!).  We all recognized that despite our initial discomfort, there was still something absolutely priceless and precious about what we were doing, and the awareness that this could well be our last open water swim of the season made us savor the exquisite beauty of the water, the sky, and our fellows all the more, and not want to leave the water despite the cold...

Rob Todd, who, having swum the farthest despite his skimpy "long-john" wetsuit, was the last one out of the water, shared his thoughts about the swim by e-mail:
"Today was a gift!
My feet hurt bad getting in, but the flat conditions made it too tempting
not to give it a real good try and I also felt like I had to earn the cap!
Once my feet were numbed as if shot with Novocain, the swim became quite
enjoyable. I did get a bit spooked from the pre swim chat about the shark
attack and the loss of Fran Crippen, but swimming is what we do.

The big question is, can the swim season really continue..................?

Not straight jacket conditions, but it is getting close."
Close, but not necessarily here yet!  Plans are afoot for a Halloween swim.... See you in the Salt next weekend??!

By the way, even though the open-water season is almost over, you still have to watch out for boats "out there"!

Boat crashes into car, Mill Dam Road, 10-24-10


  1. I feel both very sad not to be in that group photo, and also like the group in sweatshirts cheering you all on are really the only sane ones.

    Thanks for the blog. Sorry I missed it. Bet it was quieter without my bloodcurdling shrieks.

  2. The beach-potatoes may have been "the only sane ones," but guess who had the biggest smiles on their faces at the end of the swim?? Sorry you missed it too -- but there's always next week (well, maybe not "always" anymore!)...

  3. I read about this guy, Lewis Gordon Pugh, World's Best Cold Water Swimmer this summer in Outside magazine - he has to swim with a rectal thermometer so his team can monitor his core body temp! We are not there yet are we?

  4. um.

    I am going with the answer no.

  5. As Winston Churchill said (albeit with respect to ending a sentence with a preposition), "That is something up with which I will not put."

  6. See, that's where I disagree. There are thermometers you swallow that are much better for core temperature monitoring. Technology has come so much further, google swallowable temperature monitors :) see , much more civil.

  7. Seems to me that, peristalsis being what it is, eventually it's going to end up being a rectal thermometer...!