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!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

...Go!....(with the Flow!)...: The 2012 "West Neck Swim"!

Despite the careful and meticulous months-long planning by the organizers of the 2012 Huntington/Cold Spring Harbor 1 and 2 Mile Open Water Swim, none of us could have anticipated that our passage to West Neck Beach at 5:30 on the morning of the race would be blocked by a massive tree that had fallen across the road, just outside the beach entrance! Lloyd Harbor police quickly responded and cleared a narrow path just wide enough for organizers' vehicles to squeeze through on the right (thank you, Lloyd Harbor police!), and Officials Coordinator Joye Brown masterfully directed traffic and guided our vehicles through to the other side, where brilliant sunshine, a freshly-striped parking lot, a recently re-sanded beach, and massive amounts of organizing and setting up awaited us!  Town of Huntington road crews arrived in astonishly short order (thank you, Town of Huntington!), and West Neck Road was completely shut down for a time before a huge bulldozer finally nudged the fallen tree to the side of the road and carloads of volunteers were freed to swarm the parking lot and commence converting the beachfront into an athletic arena. 
Like the fallen tree, we also did not anticipate that the iron buoy anchors that secured the race buoys last year would not be enough to hold the buoys fast against the surging outgoing current this year, so our sponsor SeaTow, who, with Race Co-Organizer/Meet Director Rob Ripp on board, had towed the buoys from the beach and set them in position shortly after the gates had opened, was forced to chase them down and reposition them while our Logistics Co-Coordinator Marc Leahy attached additional anchors to hold them firmly in place (all but the southern turn buoy, which, despite three anchors, may have shifted slightly north  to shorten the course and quicken everyone's times). 

But "going with the flow" is the essence of the open-water swimmer's experience, and despite these glitches and our late start, by the time the first swimmers began to arrive, the "Start" and "Finish" chutes were in place, the registration tables were set up, the numbered caps were matched with corresponding electronic chips, and refreshments were being served. With a few adjustments, Swim organizers were able to basically hold to the timeline, and the first of five waves of swimmers -- ranging in age from 9 to 84 -- headed for the start buoy at or close to the scheduled start time.

By the time the last wave left the start buoy, there were more than 200 swimmers in the water, churning the surface of the half-mile-long course like bluefish on a bunker chase! As the swimmers gradually spread out across the water, a flotilla of volunteer paddleboarders, kayakers, and lifeguards on rescue boards maintained a careful watch, while the Huntington Harbormaster and Oyster Bay Bay Constable kept boat traffic at bay and the Cold Spring Harbor Fire Department and Huntington Community First Aid Squad ambulances and crews manned the beachfront, ready to handle any emergencies that might arise (though none did, thankfully).  By the time the last wave of 1-milers were rounding the first turn, the lead 2-mile swimmers had already caught up with them, and just minutes later 14-year-old Ian Bidwell bested the field by sprinting out of the water in a phenomenal 29:47.4!

Our West Neck Pod made a brilliant showing, too, of course, with Pod members Lou Carminati (who placed 3rd overall), Ken Longo, Liz Perlstein, and Nancy Aboff taking 1st place age-group medals, Tim Sullivan taking a 2nd place medal, and Elena ("E.J.") Voss and Jamie Scholfield taking 3rd place age group medals in the 1-Mile Wetsuit Division; and, in the 2-Mile Non-Wetsuit Division, Andrea ("Ani") O'Brien and Bird Norton taking 1st place age-group medals; while in the 2-Mile Wetsuit DivisionMichael Wright (3rd place overall!), Joanna Grossman and Karen Ruth took 1st place age-group medals; Brett Emsden took a 2nd and Bonnie Millen a 3rd place medal! Mindi DeLeary, Tom Sherman, Vinny O'Shaughnessy, and David Marino also did the Pod proud!

Like mother... (Meghan O'Brien, age 10, 400M)...

Like daughter...(Andrea O'Brien, age 42, 2-Mile)
When the last swimmer had passed through the finish gates, to the cheers of everyone on the beach, Joye and I -- no longer "on duty" -- exchanged jubilant high-fives followed by grateful bear-hugs, which we then shared all around with as many equally proud and happy Swim organizers and volunteers as we could get ahold of!  After the last of the awards were handed out and the swimmers had departed, we all set about dismantling and stowing the equipment, clearing the beach of any Race-related debris, then suiting up for our reward -- a relaxing and much-needed swim in the calm, beautiful, and now nearly empty waters of West Neck Beach. 

Barry Goldblatt (Kayak Coordinator) and me (Safety Director)
Sometime in the coming weeks we'll get together for a post-Swim debriefing, to discuss the Swim, review what we did right (great new timing company -- thanks, Nikita Dorcinvil and Just Finish, Inc.!) and analyze what we could or should have done better (definitely "Porta Potties" and extra toilet paper next year -- and a chain saw in the truck!).  We are hopeful that the Second Annual Huntington/Cold Spring Harbor 1 and 2 Mile Open Water Swim will have raised lots of money to support the Huntington YMCA's scholarship program to teach underprivileged children to swim (many, many thanks to our generous sponsors) -- and perhaps in the years to come, some of the graduates from that program will be experiencing their first open water swim event in the annual "West Neck Swim" here in the beautiful, sparkling waters of Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island Sound!
Town of Huntington Lifeguard Julia and YMCA Director Eileen Knauer
See you in 2013...!

(Huntington Masters Swim Team ["HUMS"] Blogographer Mike Engel used my camera to take most of the pictures of the race while I was otherwise engaged; and Carole Wickham took the post-race in-the-water pictures from her kayak! Check out Mike's other fabulous photos on our Facebook page [https://www.Facebook.com/WestNeckPod] and the HUMS Blog! {http://www.HUMS.blogspot.com])

1 comment:

  1. Great Informative blog.. Now a days waste water is very big problem for Earth... So we need waste water management services and environmental services for good Earth health and keep clean the environment.