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, July 25, 2010

"Yee-haw" and "Yippee-i-o-ki-ay"!

Yesterday's swim in the rough, choppy water of Long Island Sound was a pony ride compared to the bucking bronco Pod members rode out to the sailboat this morning at West Neck Beach...which made for a fine "howdy-do" to Jim Imhof, whose first open-water swim of the season may be his last!

A stampede of huge, whitecapped waves (much larger in the water) tossed us this way and that and crashed over our heads as we struggled to find a stroke rhythm and even to breathe without gulping mouthfuls -- or lungfuls! -- of water. With the incoming tide pushing us and the ornery north wind now at our backs, the ride back (though still harrowing) was a virtual gallop, the waves that had been slapping our faces now slapping our flanks.

Spurring us on, too, were the celebratory donuts, bagels and coffee Ken had waiting for us on the beach, augmented by Sue Robinson's fresh-baked coffee cake and Margot's mimosas!

(also Margot's contribution: the Chuck E. Cheese inflatable crown that the royalty among us sported as they snacked....).

After this morning's rip-roaring swim (which Rob Todd, who'd done it twice, proclaimed the hardest of the season so far!), and midway through this open water season that has seen extraordinary accomplishments by all of our Pod members, we all indeed had something to celebrate...

This cowgirl will be back in the saddle on Tuesday morning at 6:15 (and again on Wednesday and Friday). Giddyup!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flummoxed by Fluky Tide

Mother Nature and The Old Man of the Sea have obviously not been following the daily tide tables, which reported this morning’s high tide in Cold Spring Harbor as occurring at 7:07 a.m. The 6:15 flock of early morning swimmers, having duly noted this important fact, set out along the Causeway on what we reasonably assumed would still be an incoming tide, with, at worst, a slack tide neither hindering nor helping us on the return trip to the beach. Not so! Though we were surprised by how quickly we made it out to the sailboat swimming “against the tide” (Paul and I making it in under 18 minutes, with Margot, Carole, Sue, Gae and Joye close on our heels), our anticipated “slack tide” return to the beach (after enjoying a brief – and motionless! – respite at the sailboat) turned out to be a truck-push against an out-rushing current, propelled by a southerly wind, that together were doing their best to flush us out into the Sound! Forty-five minutes later, when everyone had arrived back at the beach (and Margot’s cursing had died down), we all agreed that it was a really good swim, and plan to do it again tomorrow (at 6:00, not 6:15). For those of you who care about or believe in such things, high tide (according to the tables) will be at 8:09 a.m.!

See you in the Salt!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2010 Fran Schnarr Memorial 5K/10K in the Bay Swim

Seven-time World Marathon Swimming Champion Shelley Taylor-Smith, who has swum in this annual open-water event numerous times since its inception (established in memory of her dear friend Fran Schnarr), as well as other veterans of the "5K in the Bay," agree that the tide and currents in Huntington Bay can be daunting, especially on an incoming tide such as that facing the 2010 competitors. The more-than-a-dozen members of the "West Neck Pod" who joined Shelley in Sunday morning's 5K swim or tackled the still-unimaginable-to-me 10K swim might have disputed that assessment in the early part of the swim, which commenced in surprisingly flat, calm waters on a bright, clear, sunny morning.

We swimmers enjoyed a relatively brisk romp to the western turnaround boat (thanks, Bob Miller!) and across the usually interminable gaping mouth of the harbor. It was not until rounding the eastern turnaround boat at the far (very far!) edge of the race course that the full might of the incoming tide suddenly asserted itself, leaving the by-then-already-tired swimmers to struggle desperately to traverse the final leg and round the starting boat to the finish. To their credit (and to the credit of the Pod), every last one of them did -- and then the 10Kers did it again!

OFFICIAL RACE RESULTS for all entrants were just posted this morning (and are available online at www.huntswim.org). The top finishers in both events were a bunch of teenaged squirts (aged 13 to 18!) who put down absolutely amazing times, but our Pod made a respectable showing, with one 3rd place trophy (Steph Palmieri in the women's 10K) and four age-group medals among us!
Pod members' time and rankings were as follows:
Stephanie Palmieri, 3:03:43, 7th overall
Rob Martell, 3:27:52, 8th overall
Ken Longo, time not reported; finished 11th overall

5K:Mike Wright, 1:36:34, 14th overall (1st in Age Group)
Tim Sullivan, 1:53:15, 30th overall
Rob Todd, 1:58:23, 33rd overall (2nd in Age Group)
Ani O'Brien, 2:05:39, 35th overall
Carol Moore, 2:06:01, 36th overall (1st in Age Group)
Kaitlyn Robinson, 2:09:35, 41st overall
Tommy Capobianco, 2:14:08, 44th overall
Steve Albright, 2:16:01, 47th overall (3rd in Age Group)
Sue Robinson, 2:24:17, 48th overall
Gae Polisner, 2:49:41, 51st overall
Evelyn Cruise, 2:59:02, 53rd overall
Chris Vasallo (unofficial time 1:43, DQ'd b/c of wetsuit)

Many, many thanks to the volunteer kayakers who showed up to keep us safe, on course and in good spirits. Check out photos by participating members of the North Atlantic Canoe & Kayak organization (thanks, Ann, Colin, Dara and Roy!) at their website at http://www.get-the-nack.org), and don't miss Mike Engel's great coverage of the event (and photos from the dock at Nathan Hale Beach) at the Huntington Masters Swimmers blog at http://www.hums.blogspot.com/.
(These pictures are all by Jo Rambo, who kayaked for Chris Vasallo and is much in demand for next year!)

See you in the Salt!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fourth of July 2010

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! The West Neck Pod celebrated this holiday as it does most others, with a gaggle of swimmers hitting the water for what turned out to be a gorgeous swim in perfect conditions. Paul Nugent, a confirmed "Poolie," even suited up to join us for a swim in the open water! (but only because the YMCA was closed for the holiday). He didn't seem to mind getting a little extra salt in his diet, though -- in fact, he came back and joined us again this morning (despite his deep disappointment at being stood up by his intended swim-buddy Ken, who apparently celebrated the coming of Independence Day with too many mojitos...a beverage with which the Founding Fathers were no doubt well acquainted...)
Ken was in fine form for the Fourth of July swim, though, despite being unable to find his....well, I don't know what Ken and the "Robinson Sisters" (Sue Robinson and her daughter Kaitlin -- yes, they really are two separate people) were looking for here...

After the swim, everyone posed for a rare (fully clothed!) photo...and made plans to "do it again tomorrow."

And, indeed, we did this morning, in still-perfect conditions! Bonnie Millen joined the "Causeway Club," completing her first swim to the sailboat and back, and Joye Brown, who'd been practicing "sighting," lifted her head just in time to avoid bisecting it on the propeller of the moored boat she was making a beeline for! By the way, Tommy Capobianco's e-mailed comment about swimming for the first time without his "shorty" wetsuit, "thanks to me," should not be misunderstood....He was wearing a bathing suit!

There's a group going out tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6:00, and I'll be swimming again on Wednesday and Thursday at 6:15...Then that's it for me (except for the Open-Water Swimming Clinic with Shelley Taylor-Smith on Saturday) until the 5K/10K in the Bay on Sunday!

See you in the Salt!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Week in Review

The week began with reports that Monday morning's swim was bumpy and rough, in sharp contrast to the glass-like conditions we've had at West Neck Beach virtually since the open-water season opened on Memorial Day weekend. Those gentle conditions kindly resumed for us on Tuesday, when we were accompanied by Gae's son Sam trying out his new kayak, and Ken emerged from the water with a swan feather in his bathing cap and proclaimed himself a "Friend of the Swans." (This may be a new symptom of "Longoitis," which has now advanced to a fulminating stage, as seen by the photo of Ken by the showers...)

Nature's kindness ended on Wednesday, when a brisk northerly wind collided with an outgoing tide to make our swim (Todd, Rob, Ken, Margot, Carole, Sue, and I) along the Causeway like a trip to the laundromat, tossing us about like so many dirty socks....Sue Robinson weathered it like the seasoned lifeguard she is: "Should I throw up now, or later?" (Nancy Lipira, who is not like us mere mortals, didn't seem to notice the conditions as she passed us on our labored return trip, heading out alone toward the sailboat, as effortlessly as an oceanliner.)

Ken had so much fun he decided to bag the 5K in the Bay and sign on for "The Full Monty," and he's going for the 10K with his fellow crazy person, Rob Martell, leaving his friends to wonder if this is just another symptom....

This morning (Saturday) another big crowd of Bob Miller-ites showed up at Crescent Beach -- some of us to take advantage of the opportunity to test the waters -- and the fearsome currents! -- of Huntington Bay in preparation for the upcoming 5K/10K race. Not much sign of the pesky northerly wind that's been roiling Cold Spring Harbor all week, and the outgoing tide wasn't too frisky! Let's hope next week's incoming tide is just as benign!

Back to West Neck Beach tomorrow (where Rob Todd reports that "whitecap" conditions continued today!), at 8:00 a.m. for a Fourth of July swim! (Some of us will be starting earlier -- 7:00 "in the water" -- to do a second loop with the 8:00 group. Feel free to join us, or Rob and his clan who no doubt will be going out even earlier --check your e-mails for times.) There'll be an outgoing tide -- and hopefully NO WIND!

It's the 4th of July weekend and there are LOTS OF BOATS OUT THERE so be careful!