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!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Register Online Now: The 2012 "West Neck Swim"!

The Huntington/Cold Spring Harbor 1- and 2-Mile Swim at West Neck Beach (a/k/a "The West Neck Swim") has now become an annual event at this exceptionally beautiful open-water venue on Long Island's North Shore -- the home beach of the eponymous "West Neck Pod." Last year's inaugural swim was hugely successful, with 189 swimmers competing, and in anticipation of a greatly increased number of applicants for this year's event, to be held at West Neck Beach on Sunday, June 24th, registration is limited to 300 swimmers!

On-line registration is now open for US Masters Swimming ("USMS") and USA Swimming. Follow these links to register now before the June 19th deadline:

For more information about the West Neck Swim -- and for pictures of last year's Swim, visit our website at www.WestNeckSwim.com!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend: Back in the Swim!

Perhaps the initially dismal weather forecast accounted for the surprising dearth of boats on the water, but the mooring fields at Lloyd Neck Bath Club and Lloyd Harbor Beach which bookend West Neck Beach were both virtually empty throughout this Memorial Day weekend. The stone jetty flanking the far end of "New Beach" was plainly visible -- and beckoning in the distance -- and with virtually no boat traffic, an outgoing tide assuring a swift return, and "Chairwoman of the Board" Cammy to protect us and guide us safely to our destination, more than a dozen swimmers set out Sunday morning in the direction of New Beach (Scott, Kathy, Rob Ripp, Rob Todd, "newbie" Rob McCarthy, Tom Sherman, Karen, Bonnie, Marc, "Tattoo" Paul, Armand, Ken Longo, Liz and I). Those who completed the roughly 1.25-mile roundtrip (including late arrivals Gae and Annmarie) were greeted on their return by the day's first rays of sunshine, which finally burned off the granite clouds that had shrouded Long Island for days...   

Monday, Memorial Day, dawned bright and sunny, and the biggest crowd of the weekend -- 20 swimmers -- assembled at West Neck Beach for the 8:00 swim in picture-perfect conditions. The infamous "North Buoy" and "South Buoy" had mysteriously reappeared overnight, and each had their share of visitors as the assembled swimmers split roughly in half, with one group heading north to the Sailboat and the other south to New Beach. Margot, Joan, Sue Robinson, Susan McCane and her daughter, Paul Coster, and Tommy Capobianco made their Memorial Day debuts, bringing the total number of Memorial Day Weekend swimmers to nearly three dozen -- not counting the myriad swimmers -- wetsuited or otherwise -- who swam "outside the lines" throughout the long weekend.... 

Weekday morning swims resume this week, with group swims planned (weather permitting) for Wednesday (May 30th) at 5:45 and 6:30 (in the water!), and thereafter as posted on the Blog and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/WestNeckPod).  Be careful out there -- don't forget your "Safe Swimmer" orange flotation buoys (available at http://www.ishof.org/safety/ssd.htm) and "West Neck Pod" brightly colored swim caps to help make you visible to boaters and other watercraft...!

See you in the Salt! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

We're Back...!

Blue skies, flat, calm, 65-degree water, and a total of 17 swimmers converged to make this morning's 8:00 group swim a memorable opening of the Memorial Day weekend and the 2012 open-water swimming season! Scott, Brett, Eric, Marco, Gae, Ken, Marc, Larry, Kathy, Carole, Joe, Rob Ripp, Sharon, Joye, and I, later joined in the water by Rob Martell and Christine, happily suited up in front of the now fully staffed lifeguard station, where bathrooms and showers are now open and working, and above which the flag is once again proudly flying.  Even the Sailboat is back in the water, and a full dozen of today's swimmers paid homage to our good friend by making the 1.5 mile round trip --even those for whom today's was the first swim of the season!  Of course, that sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the season, so Pod members can expect to find longer distances (did I hear "5 miles"?), trips to foreign beaches (CIBBOWS, we're coming!), and nightime swims on the menu for 2012...!  For tomorrow, see you in the Salt at 8:00!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Winding Down the 2012 Pre-Season...!

With Memorial Day weekend and the official start of the 2012 open-water swimming season just a week away, nearly a dozen swimmers wended their way to West Neck Beach this weekend to experience the still-edgy end of the pre-season in 62-degree water....Joining me in the Salt on Saturday were the long-absent-and-feared dead Ken Longo, along with Joye Brown, Don Bond, and stalwart Marc Leahy, and even the evanescent Rob Martell made a cameo appearance on shore! Sunday's crew included Marc Leahy (of course!), Rob Ripp, Joan Addabo, Mike Smith, Tom Sherman, and the "other Ken" (whose last name I don't know!).  Most of us, fighting a brisk incoming tide, ventured only as far as the "white rock," but Marc and Rob (wearing only a "shorty" wetsuit) pressed on to high-five the still-empty mooring ball, where hopefully we'll find the Sailboat when we all return on Memorial Day weekend!  Group swims are scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Memorial Day).  See you in the Salt!
Look familiar?

Don Bond makes his way to the water

Joye and Marc

Is it...? Could it be...?

The first wave of swimmers heading north

Don and Marc chatting it up at "The White Rock Cafe"

Tom Sherman at the White Rock

Joan Addabo at theWhite Rock

Back from "The Sailboat" (Rob in his "shorty" is as cold as he looks!)

Paul Coster's wife Lisa and daughter Rachel were there to
greet us on the Beach (Rachel will be joining us in
the Salt when school is over...!)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Never Swim Alone...

...unless no one else shows up to swim, and the morning beach is warm, sunny and calm, and the swans and the flat blue water are beckoning to you and calling you by name....

I could not resist the call today, and, no one else being available, resigned myself to a solitary morning swim...The beach was deserted when I arrived shortly after 8:00, with not another car in the parking lot and only a lone clamboat far off in the distance. The water was calm and flat, with the gentlest of breezes softly rippling the surface, and the morning sun glinting off the water and reflecting off the newly sandy bottom (thanks to the 20,000 tons of fresh sand recently delivered by the Town in anticipation of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend). Brand spanking new swim lines and pristine buoys stretched taut against the incoming tide as I entered the water in front of the bathhouse, and the cool-but-not-cold-water felt delicious on my bare arms (my full wetsuit now relegated to a hanger in favor of my "Long John" wetsuit as the water temperature now hovers at 60 degrees). 

I swam north along the Causeway, waving to the driver of a boat that passed at a comfortable distance, and stopping to exchange pleasantries with a fisherman along the shore.  He wasn't catching anything, but his broad smile as he announced this in response to my shouted question telegraphed that he wasn't there for the fish so much as for the fishing...much as I was there -- alone in that gorgeous, boundless, aquamarine bed of water -- not so much for the swim as for the swimming....

Yes, the rule is, "Never swim alone"...that is, unless you have to...and this morning, I absolutely had to!

I'll be doing it again tomorrow morning at 8:00 -- unless you join me! See you in the Salt!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Coming of Age in the West Neck Pod...

Annmarie Kearney-Wood was still dry behind the ears when she first came to swim with the West Neck Pod in the Summer of 2010, having been dragooned into exploring the open water by her friend and fellow lawyer Gae Polisner, who was herself still a newcomer to the Pod.  Now, two years later, both are seasoned -- and insatiable -- open-water veterans who share the distinction of having pioneered year-round swimming in the 2011-2012 season with the rest of the West Neck "Polar Pod." So it was no surprise when Annmarie announced, back in December or January, that she wanted to celebrate her upcoming fiftieth birthday with an open-water swim, and was looking for other Pod members to join her in the Salt on May 14th.  Of course we never expected that, with this incredibly mild Winter and summer-like Spring, we'd already have begun a regular weekend open-water swimming schedule in April so that a mid-May swim would seem somewhat anticlimactic, but nevertheless a small cadre of Pod-sisters assembled at West Neck Beach late this afternoon to help Annmarie realize her vision of an open-water swim to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her birth. 
Gae and I were the first arrivals, under a cloudy and threatening sky, and, when Annmarie -- a commercial real estate lawyer -- texted us that she was stuck at a closing and didn't know when she'd be able to get out, we suited up and headed into the water, hoping that Annmarie would arrive shortly and join us before the predicted rain began.  Having sustained third-degree wetsuit burns (or so it seemed) in my first "Sailboat Swim" on Saturday wearing a full wetsuit, I was swimming sleeveless for the first time since last season, but found the now-up-to-56-degree water not only tolerable but exhilarating as Gae and I swam back and forth and back and forth between the dock and the end of the Town beach (so that we'd be visible to Annmarie when she finally arrived).  Nearly an hour later, with Gae and I humming the tune to "Happy Birthday to You" in harmony on our exhaled breaths as we swam, she did, and, miraculously, so did the sun, which burned a hole in the clouds to welcome a bathing-suited Annmarie in a baptism into a new over-fifty life...

Afterwards, Carole Wickham joined us in the parking lot to sing "Happy Birthday" and share a delicious birthday carrot cake (procured by Gae from "A Rise Above Bakery" in Huntington) sumptuously served from the back of my CRV, then we all drove off into the sunset...
Wishing Annmarie another fifty years of open-water-swimming....See you in the Salt!