It was a solemn group that gathered on the beach at West Neck this morning, our 8:00 swim overshadowed by the overwhelming sadness of the news that three young children, ages 12, 11 and 8, had drowned in the dark waters off Lloyd Neck Wednesday night when their overcrowded boat capsized as it was leaving the harbor after the Dolans' annual Fourth of July fireworks display off Cove Neck. Thankfully, 24 people were saved, plucked from the water by other boaters who rushed to the scene, and by the firefighters, police and divers who responded from all of the local emergency agencies and departments, but their lives will be forever changed by this tragedy...and even to me, that channel marker in the middle of our harbor will now always seem a headstone to the three children trapped in the boat's cabin, whose lives ended there in our beloved harbor, within sight of the route that we traverse routinely in our daily swims. As we stood this morning on the beach looking northward, we could see the two police boats still anchored over the area where the boat came to rest on the bottom, in 70 feet of water, and before we entered the water for a healing Sailboat swim, we stood together on the sand for a long moment, heads bowed, offering silent thoughts and prayers for the lost children, their friends and families, and the would-be rescuers who were unable to save them....See you in the Salt. Amen.
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!