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, December 4, 2011

The West Neck "Polar Pod" Is Seven Strong for Saturday's Swim!

Gae, demonstrating proper pre-swim headgear
It's somewhat paradoxical that the numbers of the West Neck "Polar Pod" should be increasing now that December is here and  overnight temperatures have dropped to near the freezing mark, but that's exactly what's happened, as a total of seven intrepids showed up at West Neck Beach for Saturday morning's 11:00 swim! The air temperature and the water temperature were evenly matched at about 42 degrees, and Annmarie Kearney-Wood, Carole Wickham, Kathy Wickham, Rob Todd, Marc Leahy, Gae Polisner and I huddled in our cars as we suited up out of the wind. Marc, whom we were not expecting to see again until Spring after his post-Thanksgiving November OWS debut, returned for a tilt at December, now properly outfitted with insulated booties and gloves, but Rob Todd was still incomprehensibly barefoot and barehanded, having opted to hold off on shopping for cold-water gear until next season. Annmarie -- who doesn't mind shopping -- has procured fabulous new thermocarbon gloves from the Bunger Surf Shop for the rest of us -- technological marvels that really do keep our hands perfectly warm -- so I loaned Rob my old pair of insulated gloves to give him some extra protection from the cold.  (One unfortunate casualty of the new thick-fingered thermocarbon gloves is picture-taking in the water -- I can't hold the camera properly and it's almost impossible to push the buttons.)  Suiting up for cold-water swimming is a complicated and time-consuming affair, but after tugging on our wetsuits over our layered swim shirts and bathing suits, and pulling on double bathing caps, double booties and insulated gloves, we were ready to swim. The water was calm and glass-like, but with at-the-shoreline temperatures measuring between 40 and 42 degrees, it felt cold -- significantly colder than it was on Thursday when Gae, Annmarie and I took our first December swim.  Getting acclimated to the colder water took a bit longer, too, and I was nearly to the dock before I was able to put my face fully in the water. North of the dock, though, where the water is appreciably warmer, my face stopped hurting and I could settle into my swimming rhythm. With the sun shining brightly over my left shoulder and sparkling on the crystal clear water, I no longer felt the cold, and I was as happy and peaceful -- and almost as warm -- as if I were swimming in the Carribean! Rob Todd evidently wasn't feeling the cold either despite his bare feet, and managed a solo power swim to the end of the Causeway and back! The rest of us were content with a more modest round-trip to the yellow sign...with the anticipation of still more glorious open-water swims to come!  Stay tuned for the further adventures of the West Neck "Polar Pod" (and thanks to our Pod-sister Joye Brown for the appellation!)....We'll see you in the Salt!
After the swim, warming up in our cars...

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