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, October 13, 2012

"Cross-County" Swim Crossed-Off by Cold Weather...

Mother Nature, which gracefully provided the West Neck Pod with a blissfully warm, unimaginably long and immeasurably wonderful open-water season last year, has proven herself this season as fickle as innumerable poems paint her...The Pod's long-awaited "Cross-County Swim" across Cold Spring Harbor, which we had carefully planned for the "post-season" when boat traffic would be minimal, was the latest casualty to her caprice, as air temperatures the night before our planned adventure suddenly plummeted into the low 30s...By 8:00 Saturday morning, the temperature was still only 37 degrees -- but Paul Coster, Marc Leahy, Rob Ripp, Annmarie Kearney-Wood, Bonnie Millen, Ken Longo and I were there to "test the waters" -- along with our faithful Pod-dle Boarder Cammy Derosa, and volunteer kayaker Chris....The sun was shining brightly and there was only the barest trace of wind, and the water lay flat and calm, looking for all the world as if we could simply walk across the harbor from Suffolk to Nassau County....But the air temperature was only 37 degrees -- and the beach in Cove Neck was nearly a mile away, and the currents in the middle of the harbor would be stronger, and the water would be colder, and getting out on the other side would be colder still, and we'd still have to swim all the way back, and hypothermia was a real concern, and if anyone did get into trouble somewhere out there, how would we get them back...?  These thoughts and questions were tossed around the parking lot like a football as the assemblage mulled over the pros and cons of proceeding with the swim....In the end, caution settled like a wet blanket over our high hopes, and a buoy swim was deemed the only prudent option.  Paul, Rob, Marc and Annmarie were by then the only takers (Bonnie, Ken, the dogs and I opting to loiter on the beach), and when the swimmers' bright red selves reemerged from the water (especially, Rob, wearing only his "shortie" wetsuit), all agreed that -- regrettable as it was to pass up what might be our last "big swim" opportunity this season -- keeping the swim close to home was the wisest choice in the circumstances.  We all shared hot tea on the beach afterwards, which eventually eased Rob's shivering, but he, Paul and Marc were already gone when impromptu Pod cheerleaders Carole Wickham, Joye Brown and Nancy Aboff arrived for what they'd thought would be a post-crossing congratulatory celebration -- complete with Dunkin Donuts' hot chocolate and Munchkins thoughtfully provided by Nancy (thanks, Nancy!).  Disappointed that our plans were thwarted, but not disheartened, we celebrated anyway, enjoying Mother Nature's gift of a cold but beautiful morning on the shore of our favorite beach...See you in the Salt! 

Cammy and "Rocket" escort the swimmers into the water

Rocket decides he doesn't want to be left behind

Bonnie with Willow

Hey, it's 37 degrees out!

Annmarie and Nancy

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Road Trip" Tripped Up by Mother Nature...Almost....!

The days preceding our already-once-weather-postponed "Road Trip" to Foster's Memorial Beach ("Long Beach") in Sag Harbor -- now rescheduled for Columbus Day -- were marked by declining temperatures and lots of rain -- including a late overnight shower...One by one, prospective "Road Trippers" defected, and by our planned departure time of 7:00 a.m. only five were left -- just enough to fill the "Pod-mobile" and allow room for gear and grub. Carole Wickham, Kathy Wickham, Karen Ruth and I set off from Huntington, picking up Annmarie Kearney-Wood and her freshly baked crumbcake along the way, and anxiously watching the thermometer as it gradually crept upwards from the low 40s into the low 50s as we made our way eastward and the sun broke through the remaining clouds. We arrived at our destination to find Long Beach in turmoil -- with a chilly northerly wind whipping the surface of Noyac Bay into whitecaps as wave after wave rolled in to the shore. Annmarie and I were undeterred, but Carole, Kathy and Karen voted to retreat inland, so after a quick detour to Big Fresh Pond in Southampton where we dropped off the dissidents and their gear, Annmarie and I returned to Long Beach where we enjoyed a lively, delicious swim in cool, clear, delightfully salty water....
It really is a l-o-n-g beach!

We would have kept swimming forever, but mindful that our Pod-mates were stranded without us, we cut our swim short and, still in our wetsuits, headed back to Big Fresh Pond. Carole, Kathy and Karen were still basking in the windless, flat, calm, and significantly warmer water, so Annmarie and I jumped in for a quick swim across, happy to be able to rinse our wetsuits and our bodies in the fresh water of the pond and add an easy half-mile to our yardage! Once on land we all toweled off, changed to dry clothes, and hunkered down at a nearby picnic table for a feast of bagels, crumbcake and hot coffee. 

Annmarie, wait! I have to put the camera away!
Karen and Annmarie

Yeah, what about it?

There's one here, too!
The ride home was peppered with politics and personal revelations, as well as promises of a return trip next year, for our Third Annual Road Trip to Long Beach in Sag Harbor...Maybe you'll join us....See you in the Salt!