There was a thin layer of ice on the pond we passed as Carole and I made our way down to West Neck Beach for yet another open-water swim in a season whose "imminent" end we have been whining about since August...For the five "Polar Pod" members who took the plunge today -- Carole Wickham, Kathy Wickham, Gae Polisner, Rob Todd and I -- this was our first-ever Winter swim, the Solstice having marked the official beginning of Winter earlier this week. (Rob Martell, of course, is now a veteran winter swimmer, and soloed at WNB yesterday when the rest of us bailed because of high wind and rough water). This morning, with air temperatures of 32 degrees, it really felt like Winter, especially when the wind suddenly picked up and began throwing icy whitecaps in our faces as we edged our way into the water and started swimming. The cold wind added to the already bitter sting on our exposed skin (which for Rob Todd still includes his bare feet -- I don't know how he does it!), and the initial "three minutes of 'holy-crap' coldness" that Rob Martell describes lengthened to nearly five before we were acclimated enough to once again revel in the experience of the open water and enjoy another exhilarating, invigorating, and truly empowering swim....Now, on December 24th, Christmas Eve, with our first Winter swim behind us, we are truly a Pod for all seasons, and are no longer whining...because we know that our 2011 open-water swimming season will only end when 2011 does -- on December 31st! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone! See you in the Salt!
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!