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 9, 2011

Heading Into the Post-Season...

It seems like only yesterday that I was bracing myself for the end of the 2010 open-water swimming season...The ache of that impending loss has only recently faded, and already it is nearly mid-October and – incredibly – I am facing the end of yet another season, and the pangs of another winter-long separation from the open water. The season’s end is forecast in the diminishing numbers of Pod members who turn out for the weekend group swims, and early-morning weekday swims (later and later every week in deference to the ever-dwindling daylight) are virtually solitary affairs, with Carole, Karen and I the only "regulars" (joined occasionally by Gae and Nancy Lipira). Both Nancy and Karen are training for upcoming Ironman Triathlons, Nancy’s in North Carolina at the end of October and Karen’s in New Zealand on March 3rd. Karen, alone of the Pod, is happy for the steadily dropping water temperature, as she attempts to acclimate to the 50-55 degree water temperatures she expects to encounter "down under." Interestingly, with but a few exceptions, this late open-water season has been owned almost exclusively by the women of the West Neck Pod, who continue to brave the unseasonably cool air temperatures and rapidly dropping water temperatures while most of their brethren have long since retreated to the pool...

This morning the air temperature had warmed up again to 56 degrees by 8:00, and the water temperature was still a tolerable though chilly 60-64 degrees, but only Gae, Annmarie, Bonnie, Sue, Joye, Liz and I, along with Rob Ripp (the sole representative of his gender!) were there to enjoy a blissful Causeway swim in clear, still water under a windless, cloudless, impossibly blue sky.

For those of us who continue to swim in the open water in September and October and even November (and, for our crazy Canadian, Rob Martell, in December!), the Fall is unquestionably the best time for open-water swimming, and it just keeps getting better and better! Aside from the astonishing crispness and clarity of the water, the exquisite oblique light, the dramatic kaleidoscopic skies, the emptiness of the vast horizon, and the stillness and quiet of the nearly deserted beach and harbor, we embrace the bittersweet awareness that each swim might be the season’s last. So every stroke in this late-season is precious, as we try to burn every image and sensation into our memories, to sustain us through the long, Saltless winter. For me, this season’s memories will include some "firsts": the Pod’s several exhilarating forays south to "The New Beach," choreographed "circle-dances" and a beer-toast out at the South Buoy, an armada of orange "floaty-bags" trailing behind a sea of swimmers; and (I hope) some "lasts": Bonnie’s breast cancer, Joye’s broken ankle, Chris Vasallo’s neck surgery, and Frank Fiore’s bike accident....But, this is only October 9th, I still have 8 more days of open-water swimming to achieve my "perfect" 100-Day Open-Water Swimming Season (and beyond!), and there are plenty more memories to be made before we say goodbye to this 2011 open-water season. Next on the list: The West Neck Pod’s first-ever Columbus Day "Road Trip" to Long Beach in Sag Harbor – honoring the "explorer" in all of us....See you tomorrow in the East-End Salt! 


  1. as always, a magnificent post. Thank you.

  2. I've been following this for awhile as well. Really good data. From a fellow West Necker...