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, June 3, 2012

So Soon June...Hello, Full Moon...

Weekday morning swims resumed this week, and as the weekend approached and May yielded to June, a waxing gibbous moon was playing havoc with the tides, which were higher and stronger than usual.  Friday morning's swim to the Sailboat felt endless against the surging power of the incoming tide, and it was almost a relief that Saturday was a "no-swim" day -- for me, because of family commitments; for the rest of the Pod, because of grey, sodden weather (and a Department of Health advisory that closed numerous Suffolk County beaches due to concerns about bacteria-laden runoff from the heavy rain Friday night).  Marc, who came down to the beach Saturday morning anyway "just to look," saw two brave souls swimming "out there" who later turned out to be Chris and Tim.  They'd made their first open-water swim of the season on Friday morning -- Chris's first since his spinal surgery more than a year ago -- and evidently their revivified taste for Salt was undeterred by the incipient gloomy weather!

Sunday morning, though, was sunny and clear, and a veritable swarm of swimmers -- including a half-dozen "newbies" -- descended on West Neck Beach like gnats on a bare neck.  A steady wind from the northwest was stiffening the flag, and the few boats in the mooring field were tugging at their chains against the surging incoming tide as a steady chop rolled across the diminishing beachfront. As we all suited up in front of the lifeguard station, I gave the newbies a little impromptu orientation speech, heavy on dire warnings and disclaimers in light of the unwelcoming conditions: the northwest wind, an incoming tide, and a nearly full moon...While we chatted, the first wave of swimmers set off for the Sailboat, and the full force of the tidal surge could be seen in the feckless, feeble strokes of even the strongest swimmers...

Shortly thereafter, I left the newbies behind with instructions (hopefully heeded) to stick to the area in front of the beach, and set off, in the wake of fellow-laggards Gae and Annmarie, for the Sailboat...Like a salmon struggling to swim up a waterfall, I inched my way northward, and was still hundreds of yards off when the pack of first-wave swimmers stroked by me on their way back to the beach. Gae, Annmarie and I -- all training for the 5K "Sound-to-Cove" Swim Across America -- had originally planned a 2-mile swim to Fort Hill Beach, but by the time I finally reached the Sailboat -- in the time it usually takes me for the round-trip -- I had cheerfully abandoned that plan -- much to Gae's chagrin and disappointment. 

The return trip -- in half the time -- felt rocket-like in comparison, and after more than an hour in the water, I was glad to be home, and grateful for the bagels and coffee Carole had waiting on the beach!
The long swim will have to wait 'til next weekend, when unfortunately the return trip will be against an outgoing tide, but at least on a waning moon it should pack less of a punch. Weekday morning swims are planned this week for Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday at 6:30 a.m. (in the water) and Friday at 8:00. See you in the Salt!


  1. Carol, many thanks from the newbies!!! Joe and I definitely appreciated your instructions and we did heed your warnings. We went to the dock and back several times. Although I did not love the murkiness of the water, or the taste of the salt, or the constriction of the neck on the wetsuit, I did enjoy swimming in the fresh air, the challenge of the little waves, the buoancy of the suit, and the feeling of conquering a little bit of my fears. Hope to see you again. We are trying to figure out how to fit all this stuff into the family schedule now that we are engaging in multi sports. It was far easier when it was just running to deal with! Thanks again for your friendly hospitality!!

    1. Jacqui, it was a pleasure meeting you and Joe and the other newbies on Sunday! I'm glad you stuck it out long enough to be able to appreciate the waves, the buoyancy, and the fresh air, as well as the heady experience of venturing outside your comfort zone. I assure you that if you keep coming back, you will find that your wetsuit no longer constricts you, the Salt tastes better than Chlorine, the water is sometimes astonishingly calm and clear, and the edges of your fears are a little further away than they were the last time out! Good luck in your first Tri!