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, January 1, 2012

A Stellar New Year's Eve Swim

An orange crescent moon hung low in the sky as Carole and I made our way down West Neck Road for our planned New Year's Eve swim, but to our great disappointment the gates to West Neck Beach were closed and locked when we arrived. The gates to Lloyd Harbor Beach were open, though, so that's where we headed as the minutes ticked away towards midnight. We pulled the "Pod-mobile" (my Honda CRV, now sporting birthday-present-to-myself "WNECKPOD" license plates) as far down on the beach as we could and left the headlights shining on the dark and distant water as we hurriedly pulled on our double caps, goggles, booties and gloves in preparation for a momentous event: the last open-water swim of 2011, blending seamlessly into the first swim of 2012! Emboldened by our nascent cold-water exploits of this 2011 OWS season, and with the air temperatures still inexplicably hovering in the comfortable mid-40s (in stark contrast to last year's epically cold and snowy December), a New Year's Eve swim actually seemed doable, and the idea of, literally, swimming from one day, one month, one year into the next was irresistible to us. The prospect of swimming in the dark was more than a little scary, though, yet that fear, too, on the cusp of the New Year and its aura of resolve, impelled us forward. Still, we were both nervous as we tentatively waded into the unfamiliar water shortly before midnight, with our green and orange glowsticks faintly illuminating our bodies. The water was surprisingly warm, and we were relieved to find ourselves perfectly comfortable temperature-wise, but the tide was nearly dead-low and we had to breast-stroke, heads up, through seemingly interminable shallow water, beyond the comforting glow of my car's headlights, to deeper water where we took our first few tentative crawlstrokes with our faces in water that was black as, well, night...The water was so dark that it seemed no longer liquid but a black, solid mass, and it was an effort of will to repeatedly turn my face into it....But after my eyes and my nerves had acclimated to the darkness, my fear gradually dissipated, and when I turned my head to the side to breathe and looked up to see the thousands of stars glimmering in the midnight sky and the copper moon setting on the horizon, I had an inkling of what it is that drives marathon swimmers -- or crazy Canadians -- to swim through the night in the darkness....
There is something about diving into your fears, and swimming through them, that is profoundly transformative, and the swimmers who entered the dark, still, silent waters of Cold Spring Harbor on New Year's Eve night in 2011 were not the same as the ones who emerged in 2012... Happy -- and fearless -- New Year, everyone!  See you in the Salt!


  1. Love the fabulous Pod - and especially the women of the Pod - who continue to inspire me on a daily basis. Thanks for dipping in the midnight waters, thereby forging new challenges for us all.

  2. Umm, are you guys going to take away my aquaholic car magnet?

  3. Hey, even the fringes have fringes!

  4. We are installing an One Piece Fiberglass Pool in the very near future. Our first decision is to go with a fiberglass pool or a One Piece Fiberglass Pool? Advice from all you pool owners would be greatly appreciated. If you have had both types, please indicate in your relpy. Thanks!