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!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A "Sign" of the Season...

Looking for a sign that the 2012 open-water swimming season is officially "open"? Here it is!  Four members of the West Neck Pod's "Polar Pod" took advantage of the 65-degree air temperature and 55+-degree water temperatures (!) today to swim all the way to the infamous "yellow sign" for the first time since...well, since it got too cold to stay in the water long enough to get to the yellow sign!  At dead-low tide, the water was a little murky and decorated with copious amounts of sea jewelry, but that was no deterrent for Annmarie Kearney-Wood, Gae Polisner, Paul Coster and I, who were sweating in our wetsuits in the hot afternoon sun as we assembled ourselves on the beach for the swim.  The water felt distinctly warmer than last time, and we all eschewed the extra layers that had protected us throughout our so-called-winter immersions (except for Paul Coster, who declared himself perfectly comfortable in his sleeveless wetsuit and single bathing cap -- though he employed ear plugs under his cap to avoid "brain freeze").  Ludymila, an already wetsuited stranger whom we met on the beach, nearly joined us, but found the unusually miry water conditions too distasteful.  She prefers to swim in the early mornings, she says, when the water is at its clearest and the beach is not as crowded.  Explaining that "she is Russian," Ludymila said that she's been swimming at West Neck regularly throughout the winter! (and the Polar Pod now has a new prospect!)  Ludymila-less, we four struck off along the Causeway, and forty minutes later, we emerged from the water into a still beautiful, picture-perfect day, with more of the same predicted for tomorrow (after a possible morning shower).  The soon-to-be-extinct Polar Pod is planning to take to the Salt again on Sunday afternoon at 3:00.  See you then!
Paul demonstrating his gloveless "happy hands" 

Friday, April 6, 2012

'Twas a "Good Friday" for an Open-Water Swim!

The air temperature on this first Friday in April was slightly cooler than the last several days', but by 3:00 the thermometer had edged up to around 53 degrees, and with the sun blazing brightly in a nearly cloudless blue sky, an afternoon open-water swim seemed the perfect beginning to this Easter weekend, at least for the five swimmers who suited up in the almost-crowded West Neck Beach parking lot.  Gae Polisner, Annmarie Kearney-Wood and I were there, of course, for our first April OWS, but so were Rob Ripp, who last ventured into the Salt in January, and, to my great surprise, Paul Coster, who showed up in the same sleeveless wetsuit he wore when he last tasted Salt in -- well, I don't even remember when that was, but I know that he was almost as cold then as he was today!  Paul was game, though, and he jumped in with the rest of us and started swimming strongly, but his exposed skin and lack of acclimatization quickly took its toll and he was forced to bail before we reached the dock....Barefoot and sleeveless is still a tad ambitious for early April -- especially when the water temperature is still below the 50-degree mark, but kudos to Paul for trying -- he is definitely a Brit with Grit!  The rest of us swam northward nearly to the yellow sign, but a swift outgoing tide and sudden northerly wind that pushed up a stiff chop persuaded us that an earlier turnaround would be wiser -- though we still stayed in for more than half an hour.  It was a glorious swim, in water that is easily ten degrees warmer than it was a month ago, and we were heartened to realize that with Spring in full swing it will only get warmer from here on in!  Some of us are planning on testing that theory tomorrow, with an afternoon swim at 1:30-2:00-ish.  I'll be there -- and not only because this first April swim marks the completion of my first-ever 12-month season of open-water swimming, having swum at least once in every month since May of last year! I just love it out there -- and love sharing it with all of you!  Happy Easter, Happy Passover...See you in the Salt!

This Brit has grit -- notice the short sleeves on the wetsuit...!
Paul Coster and Robb Ripp

Gae Polisner and Annmarie Kearney-Wood

Bonnie Millen met us on the beach and went in as far as her knees -- this time...!