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!

Friday, November 26, 2010

"The West Neck Pod: To the Sailboat..."

Stained glass by Carole Wickham

"Pass the Salt, please"

While the rest of us were passing the salt over our Thanksgiving leftovers, Rob Martell was diving into it again -- on this cold, damp, grey Friday after Thanksgiving!  Rob -- the lone holdout of the West Neck Pod -- has swum at West Neck Beach every weekend throughout this month of November, and is threatening to continue swimming into December (which is just around the corner).  So let's talk turkey: The 2010 open-water season isn't over until Rob Martell says it is!

We'll keep you posted!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Not Over Yet...!

One day after the November 7th "Water-Blog" post proclaiming the end of the 2010 open-water season (http://thewater-blog.blogspot.com/2010/11/2010-open-water-swimming-season-looks.html), Long Island awoke to a freak early-morning snow shower, which seemed to confirm the soundness of that prediction.  But with the air temperatures this mid-November week reaching into the high 60s, and the water turned to glass by a gentle easterly breeze replacing the usual northwesterly wind, the open water resumed singing its siren song to the vulnerable....Carole and I, walking our dogs at West Neck Beach these last few days, were sorely tempted to take the plunge despite the steadily dropping water temperature, but dog-duties and the lack of wetsuits prevailed and we stayed dry despite our wistful regrets....It was Rob Martell who succumbed to the call first, diving alone into the Salt early this morning. His caption for the picture below, which he e-mailed to the Pod, reads:  "Stupid Swimmer: to the dock and back. Temp: 42" even as he proclaimed the season "not over yet...."

The gauntlet that Rob threw down this morning was unknowingly picked up later this afternoon by an unknown swimmer named "Joe," who, unable to resist the beckoning water, took a slow, leisurely swim and emerged from the chilly water wearing only a Speedo and a big smile. 

Humbled by Joe's seemingly heroic feat (and not aware yet of Rob's earlier swim), and chagrined that I could not follow suit (or wetsuit!), I comforted myself with the still-glorious day, the spectacular sight of a rainbow peeking through the clouds framing the sun over the water, and the flock of seagulls taking flight over my head, but my body was aching to be lifted again by the Salt, and my heart was wishing for an early Spring....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The 2010 Open-Water Swimming Season: Looks Like It's Over....

On this chilly Sunday morning, Rob Martell and Rob Todd took their first open-water swim of November 2010, as Carole Wickham and I had done earlier in the week, on Election Day....With the sun just barely risen and the air temperature hovering just a few degrees above freezing, the conditions "The Robs" encountered at 8:00 this morning were considerably harsher than what "The Carol(e)s" experienced on a sunny Tuesday midafternoon.  Although they gamely termed it a "nice short swim" in water that Rob Martell generously estimated as "in the high 40's," the Robs' descriptions of "pins and needles" and numb faces, hands and feet told the true story of this morning's swim -- presaging not only the end of this year's open water swimming season, but the approaching end of autumn and the beginning of winter....    

As a die-hard Salt-water junkie, reluctant to see the season end, I had harbored my own wishes for yet another open-water swim today, and after a half-hearted stint in the Y pool, I made my way to West Neck Beach to check out the conditions.  As I stood there on the beach, as I had dozens of times in the last seven (!) months -- checking the tide, gauging the wind direction and strength, and just taking in the gorgeous vista -- I suddenly knew that my open-water season was over....

The sun was warm and bright and the water was clear and calm, but the air was cold on my face and hands, and the northwest wind (of course!) kept finding its way into and under my jacket...I felt cold, and knew that in the water I'd feel even colder.  More importantly, I didn't want my last open-water swim to be anything less than perfect -- as every swim had been all season long. I wanted my memory of my last swim of the season to be like that of Tuesday's swim, in crisp, invigorating, crystal-clear water, with the sun shining brightly in a brilliant blue sky, reminding me of how lucky I am, to be blessed with this gift of open-water swimming and my "Pod" of fellows who share it with me. I wanted to remember nothing but the sheer joy of the open water...and so I will....until next year, when I see you in the Salt! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day OWS Voted "Best Swim of November 2010" -- So Far...!!

Election Day dawned bright and sunny, but the bright sunshine was not enough to lift the temperature out of the low 40's -- seemingly too cold for what we'd hoped would be the first open-water swim of November! An early reconnaissance at the beach was heartening, with a gentle breeze stirring the air, and the water sparkling in the sun so invitingly that I was tempted to ignore my common sense and go in despite the cold. 

There were no other takers, though, but when Carole later had a bout of swimmer's regret and said, "Maybe we should go anyway," I leapt at the chance, hastily dragging her off to the beach before she could change her mind.  She didn't, and we both had an amazing, invigorating, energizing swim to the sign and back.  We emerged from the cold-but-not-too-cold water giddy and giggling, high-fiving each other for an awesome swim and for having extended our open-water swimming season into yet another month (month "7" for me, having swum in May, June, July, August, September, October, and now, November!). 

The fact that we were swimming on Election Day gave the event added significance.  Mindful that the early suffragists endured jailings, beatings, forced feedings, and other tortures so that I could exercise my right to vote on this Election Day (which I proudly did, first thing this morning!), my swim today was in part an homage to those fearless foremothers....Happy Election Day!  See you in the Salt!