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 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! 


  1. ok, thanks,this post made me cry, but then we all know I am a wuss (a bad-ass 3-mile swim wuss, of course!).

    I cannot express how much this season has meant to me, how joyful it was to see all of you those early mornings (and some precious mid-afternoons), and share something so invigorating, calming, and special. I will miss you all this winter.

    And, Carol, there are few things that make me smile more than reading your recaps on the blog. Thank you for that. I know it is a time-consuming endeavor, but for me, they are always a highlight of my day.

  2. No.....no I say, there has to be one more dance at WNB! There are no jelly fish, no turbidity and no moorings! The water is sterile and crystal clear.

    I think we need to make next weekend the swan song.

  3. Just to put things in perspective, our last open-water swim last year (2009) was October 9th, and in 2008, it was -- can you believe it?? -- November 7th! (and I don't remember what year it was when Rob Martell took a December dip among the ice floes....) So we didn't do too badly this year! Still, if you insist on a Thanksgiving swim, I would consider it....!

  4. Seems the ocean gods are reclaiming some of their salt water here. Nothing I can say else, but I found something from a poet I have been reading recently.

    "always ourselves we find in the sea"

  5. Stupid iPad it took the it's out. Proper quote.

    "it's always ourselves we find in the sea"

  6. Wonderful, and true. And that IS why we go there, again and again and again....!

  7. Did you not notice the snow, sleet and cold rain that hit Huntington early on Monday morning? I was not even a happy camper walking out of the nice, warm Y this morning! If we don't get a late fall warm-up real soon, I think that you'll have to be happy with the pictures from Sunday, November 7th -- they certainly showed West Neck Beach in all it's glory! See you in the pool! (I'll be back in the salt in my usual June!)

  8. Register for 5th UK Cold Water Swimming Championship 2011

    31 October 2011: Registration for the 5th UK Cold Water Swimming Championship 2011 opens today. Competitors can register by visiting www.slsc.org.uk and clicking on the CWSC 11 tab. The championship is organised by South London Swimming Club (SLSC) and takes place on Saturday 22 January 2011 at Tooting Bec Lido in South London.
    The entry fee is £12 (£10 for SLSC members) plus £6 per competition entered. This year, organisers are advising people to register well before the 24 December deadline as there are only 350 places and strong demand on the back of recent ‘wild swimming’ coverage on TV and in the media.
    This biennial event has become a ‘must’ for cold-water swimmers and also attracts many new converts. Age and ability is no barrier and with water temperatures down to 3°C, jumping in for the 30 yard race is considered an achievement in itself.
    In 2009, the championship attracted around 1,000 visitors to the pool. A spectator’s ticket is just £2.00 and provides a fun-filled programme of racing from 9am through to 3pm covering traditional "head up" breaststroke, freestyle dash and relays, plus the endurance 500 yard challenge.
    It’s a colourful event with music, comperes, outlandish swimming costumes and hats ranging from butterfly wings through to Bearskins. And to keep everyone warm, there’s hot tub and showers, a Finnish sauna, and a marquee and stalls selling fresh coffee, cakes, hog roast, vegetarian and boutique real ales.
    • Website: www.slsc.org.uk and click on the CWSC 11 tab
    • TV footage of 2009: http://www.itnsource.com/shotlist//ITN/2009/01/24/R24010903/
    • Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/UK-Cold-Water-Swimming-Championships-2011
    • Blog: http://coldwater2011.posterous.com
    • Sponsorship pack: http://www.slsc.org.uk/pdfs/CWSC2011_sponsorship_opps.pdf
    • Twitter: @slsclido hashtag: #coldwater2011
    • Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/116491950295609558303/ColdWaterSwimmingChampionships#
    • General: coldswim@slsc.org.uk and 07985 141 532.
    • Press: Jonathan Buckley on 07985 575 261 JBuckley@betweenthelines.fsnet.co.uk or Tom Butler on 07726360558 at twebutler@yahoo.co.uk .
    • Film/photography: No cost but must send a copy of public liability insurance to Maria Horn, Film Manager, Wandsworth Film Office, Battersea Park, London SW11 4NJ. mhorn@wandsworth.gov.uk. 020 8871 7119. www.wandsworth.gov.uk/film

  9. Carol, please get on buying our whole group tickets. :)

  10. Mike.. MAY .. MAY ( not June )