The air temperature was barely 47 degrees and a cold, stiff wind was blowing across the harbor, wafting away what little warmth the early afternoon sunshine was spreading over the tiny group of swimmers huddling in the parking lot, hemming and hawing about whether to go through with our planned 1:00 swim. Gae Polisner and Annmarie Kearney-Wood were on phone alert, waiting for our reports, while Paul Coster, Sharon Hochberg, Kaitlyn Pawlukojc and I shook our heads at the unbelievably low numbers my laser thermometer was reporting as we aimed it at the water's edge (no, I won't even bother to repeat them here...). I recounted Annmarie's description of last weekend's swim, when taking her face out of the icy water into the equally icy air gave no relief, and a consensus quickly formed that perhaps next weekend would be a better time to swim -- especially for newbie Kaitlyn who, although the proud owner of a new full wetsuit she was aching to try out, was barefoot and barehanded. We tossed our regrets back and forth for a while, consoled by Bonnie Millen, her friend Joan, and Paul's daughter who had come to watch, Rob Todd having already left when he realized there wasn't going to be much of a show. Paul disappeared for a few moments then suddenly reappeared, all decked out in his wetsuit and goggles, proclaiming in his clipped British accent that he was "going in after all because, well, somebody should, shouldn't they?"
Of course they should...but they shouldn't go alone...so in the end, Paul, Sharon and I flung ourselves (well, minced, really) into the water and had a glorious time of it. The water, while not exactly "balmy" as Paul had predicted (he being a little balmy himself, I suspect), was not nearly as cold as we all had feared, and Paul and I swam easily to the dock and back while the gloveless Sharon stayed closer to shore, then Paul made another round trip, unwilling to get out. As always, I was glad for having overcome my resistance and grateful to Paul for having inspired me -- I really would have regretted it if I'd stayed on shore and watched him cavorting like a seal.
P.S., Don't tell Gae and Annmarie -- they'll hate that they missed this...!
See you in the Salt next weekend!
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!