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!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

That Great Gettin’ Up Mornin’...

It’s a relatively small group of swimmers who regularly drag themselves out of bed at dawn or thereabouts for early weekday morning swims before work, but the peace and beauty of the water in the early morning usually makes it worth the effort...Not so much yesterday, though, when the water, although flat and calm, was dotted with piles of floating sludge, which had us tacking and jibing like a fleet of Sunfish...It was an unappetizing introduction for "newbie" Will Spencer, who only learned to swim in September (by watching YouTube videos!) and who was joining us for the first time. Will’s autodidactism was obviously effective, though, and he not only handily survived his first "buoy swim," but plans to return on Thursday morning, apparently undeterred by the unprecedented sludge-fest in the harbor...

This morning’s early swim, by contrast, was glorious, the water clean and clear and sludge- and jelly-free, with just enough of a pot-stirring westerly wind to make it interesting... Joye Brown, Carole and Kathy Wickham, Karen Ruth, Bill Byers and I were joined by Greg Kahwaji, a visitor from Central Illinois who is in Glen Cove for a few days on business and found us through the West Neck Pod Facebook page. Despite living in a landlocked state that doesn’t offer much opportunity for open-water swimming, Greg was able to leave the rest of us in his formidable wake as he swam the full 1.5 mile buoy-to-buoy-to-buoy route in what looked like record time. He’ll says he’ll be back tomorrow, too – and so will I, for the 6:15 ("in the water") swim...

If a Thursday morning 6:15 swim doesn't appeal to you, there's a second group going out at 7:30...
For Friday’s 7:30 a.m. swim, Karen and I are planning to "go long" – swimming from West Neck Beach to the South Buoy to the North Buoy to the Sailboat and back to the beach (est. distance 2.25-2.5 miles). Feel free to join us for all or some...
See you in the Salt!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"Like a Fish Out of Water"

Steven Levey
Nancy Reycraft, whose last open-water swim of the early season was five days ago at her home beach, Centerport Beach, where the water quality after the week's rain remained questionable,  reported that she was beginning to twitch and flop about and gasp for air, so she was somewhat desperate to rejoin the Pod for its 8:00 open-water swim at West Neck Beach this morning. Nancy was not the only "fish out of water," as the freakish rainstorms and continued cool temperatures that have held the 2013 open-water season to a stuttering start have kept many a Podder from the Salt.  But this morning's warm sunshine and clear blue skies drew a few more Podders out for their first-swim-of-the-season.  Among the returnees: Chris Vasallo, Nancy Aboff, Steven Levey, and Margot Edlin (who actually went in above the knees this time and swam all the way to the South Buoy, proclaiming the water "just lovely"!).  Also joining us for the first time today were  Lorraine and Dave (whose first attempt last week was aborted by the cold water), and Gregory Nieratka, who accompanied regulars Carole Wickham, Joye Brown, Gae Polisner, Annmarie Kearney-Wood, E.J. Voss, Magda Petryk, Marc Leahy, Rob Ripp, Paul Coster, Tim Sullivan, Don Bond,  and me for either a short jog to the South Buoy and back or a more extended swim to New Beach and back (with some tacking on a jaunt to the North Buoy just to show off)...There was virtually no wind and the 63-degree water was calm and flat, and relatively clean and clear, though a fair amount of seaweed dredged up by the outgoing tide peppered the water, along with the occasional dead horseshoe crab.  I collided with one of these monstrosities despite Don Bond's best efforts to warn me, and was astonished by how solid and unyielding it was when I hit it with my outstretched hand (and screamed like a girl when I realized what it was!)  

At New Beach, the usually squeamish and delicate Gae surprised the assemblage when she plopped a huge clod of pungent seaweed on her head and commenced prancing around like Esther Williams (whom she was perhaps channeling),  but she was promptly disciplined by former teacher Nancy Reycraft, who commenced hurling wads of seaweed in Gae's general direction (perhaps the now-retired Nancy misses the cafeteria food fights....). 
Esther Williams lives

Joye at Muscle Beach (I mean, "New Beach")

Tomorrow promises to be as warm and beautiful as today -- at least in the morning -- so we'll be back at 8:00 to do it all over again!  See you in the Salt!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Rain Washout...Again!

Torrential rains driven by tropical storm Andrea drenched the east coast all day yesterday, flooding roadways and basements -- including my own! -- which Carole and I spent the evening pumping and bailing. By morning the storm was over and the sun was shining brilliantly in the cloudless sky as we made our way to West Neck Beach with the dogs "just to see." Though I am not usually squeamish about runoff, I felt no inclination to swim after such a massive rainfall (especially after seeing what was "swimming" in my basement!), but I knew Marc Leahy and at least a few others would be itching to get back in the Salt....Sure enough, Marc was already there, with a cluster of  hopeful "Posties": Stuart, Dave and Lorraine; and then Orlando arrived to survey the possibilities.

Stuart, Lorraine, Dan and Marc 
But the skies had already filled with clouds again, driven across the Sound by a strong northwest wind, and last week's almost-comfortable water temperature had dropped back down to 61 degrees when I waded in for a reading. The remnants of the storm were evident in the copious strands of seaweed and beachgrass that wrapped around my ankles as the waves slapped the shore and in the murkiness of the water that hid my feet from view though I was standing little more than ankle-deep. 

I'd had no intentions of swimming today anyway, so I wasn't disappointed when the rest of the assemblage reluctantly opted against swimming, though Marc seemed particularly stricken...Tomorrow's forecast is for sunshine and warmer temperatures -- and hopefully for me, a return to blogging about swimming rather than about not-swimming....See you in the Salt!

Monday, June 3, 2013

First Open-Water Swims of June 2013...

Finally!  The freakishly cold weather of the Memorial Day weekend, which morphed into the freakishly hot weather of the ensuing week, eventually moderated into the blissfully temperate temperatures of the weekend -- so the West Neck Pod's first swims of June were absolutely glorious! The water temperature was comfortably up to the mid-60's,the wind was from the southwest, the tide was outgoing, and -- well, there really aren't words to describe it...so here are some pictures (and videos, if they post properly...)...

Scott Kessler and Rob Ripp wading in on Saturday morning...

Paul has a new gadget: "Are you ready for your closeup?"

"Newbie" Jay Gupta contemplating his first open-water swim
EJ reprising her earlier swim with Carole as part of the second wave on Sunday...

Karen gets reacquainted with the South Buoy

Carole atop her paddleboard and beneath the blue sky...

"Second shift" on Sunday morning...The 10:30 wave

"Shoulders to the Buoy"! (Carole's first venture back into the open water after last season's shoulder injuries)

Karen Barbosa returns to the Salt as a "medium" (you'll have to ask her)

Sharon chillin' at the South Buoy
Gae swimming strong

EJ and I looking happy after our second swim of the day

Weekday morning swims begin tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6:30 a.m. ("in the water"!).  See you in the morning Salt!