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!

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Newbie," or not "Newbie"...That is the question...

Dana Termini
As with every open-water season, 2013 has brought a fresh crop of "newbies" to the West Neck Pod. This year’s group – the largest yet – is a diverse lot, with, as always, different levels of swimming skill and experience as well as different reasons for seeking the open water and the company of the Pod. 2013 "newbies" Dana Termini and Will Spencer have become Pod regulars, helping to fill the gaping hole left when Karen Ruth moved back to Cleveland. Dana, a surfer from the South Shore, is an accomplished open-water swimmer who exhibits the same calm equanimity whether she’s pushing the envelope with the rest of the "Big Dogs" or hanging back with the "Pokey-Pod." Will, who had only recently taught himself to swim by watching YouTube videos (!), was already registered for his first Iron-Man Triathlon in Louisville on August 25th -- but his swimming was slow and laborious and he was afraid he wouldn’t make the swim cut come race day. He found the West Neck Pod through an internet search – and after several months of dogged training with the Pod – and being mentored by our multi-time Iron Man veterans Karen Ruth and Nancy Lipira, among others – Will made the swim cut in plenty of time...and now he’s ready to mentor the next crop of Iron-Man-wannabees. 

Will "Iron Man" Spencer
Merry Lewin
Merry Lewin – whose personality matches her name – is a newly minted sprint triathlete, but with limited open-water experience, Merry was apprehensive about taking on other challenges...Her swims with the Pod have been about exploring and expanding her comfort levels, and increasing both her distance and her sense of confidence. Merry still has "The Sailboat" in her sights – and in due time, with the support and encouragement of the Pod, Merry will add that notch to her swimming belt...just like Ian Todd did last weekend! Ian is the 12-year-old son of long-time Podder/Polar Podder Rob Todd, who decided to introduce his "poolie" progeny to the open water this season. Ian has taken to the open water like, well, his Dad, and I definitely see some "big swims" in his future!

Rob Todd and Ian Todd
Rebecca, center, with Joan, Dana, Joye, Larry & Bonnie
Rebecca Cooney – a Newsday colleague of long-time Podder Joye Brown, had been wistfully following the Pod through Facebook and The Water-Blog for eons...but it was a cancer diagnosis that finally brought her to West Neck Beach in mid-July for her first swim with the Pod before undergoing surgery and then chemotherapy/radiation....Wishing Rebecca a speedy return to the healing Salt and her newfound Pod!

Jimmy Kwong is another self-taught swimmer – whose first challenging venture in the open water two weeks ago – safely sandwiched between me and Joye Brown -- brought him as far as the "recently-repainted-building-formerly-known-as-the-‘Blue-House’-but-now-known-as-the-‘White House.’" His second outing last weekend proudly took him as far as the yellow sign – twice! – and Joye informs me that Jimmy made his first South Buoy swim this Labor Day weekend!

Other newbies to the West Neck Pod this season include Bill Byers, Marco Papaleo and Pam Algier, Eliana Themistocleous-Feldstein and "Sidestroke" Matt, Frank Caponi, Kathy Coletti (and her neighbor Gina Foglia, who still hasn’t ventured outside the lines, but promises to soon!), Joe Maccaro, Gavin Poole, Carrie Alexandrowicz, Tony Alizzi, Denise Defazio Cooke, Henry Ivarsson, Brandon Garrett, Greg Nieratka, Peter Dennin, and others whose names have escaped me at the moment...! Many of these have also become Pod "regulars," and even as the official summer season is drawing to a close, "newbies" keep showing up to swim with the West Neck Pod, Long Island’s largest open-water-swimming group!

Bill Byers
Eliana and "Sidestroke" Matt (you'll have to ask him!)

Kathy Coletti and Gina Foglia

Gavin Poole

Tri-Buddies Lorraine, and ?? (Dan?)

Tony Alizzi

Eliana and Denise DeFazio Cooke

Henry Ivarsson

Peter Dennin

Brandon Garrett

Greg Nieratka

But for all the "newbies" who came out to join the Pod this season, there are others out there who are still holding back...waiting, for...what, a special invitation?? WELL, HERE IT IS! The West Neck Pod is extending a Special Invitation to those West-Neck-Pod-wannabees who’ve been hovering on the fringes, but who’ve not yet gotten up the nerve to come out and swim with us (you know who you are!). Take the plunge and join us on Saturday, September 7th at 7:30 a.m. (before the regularly scheduled 8:00 group swim) for a one-on-one introduction to the open water! No pressure, no expectations, and no goals other than to help you get unstuck if the open water is what you’ve been yearning for. If you’re a strong, competent swimmer who wants to expand your horizons and, well, start swimming towards the horizon, email the Pod at westneckpod@verizon.net and let us know you’re coming on the 7th! Wetsuits are recommended – if you don’t own one you can rent one from Runners Edge in Farmingdale or other local runners/cycle shops. We’re also looking for seasoned Pod members to volunteer to mentor our latest crop of "newbies." Sign up on Facebook (https:www.Facbeook.com/WestNeckPod/events or email westneckpod@verizon.net.

See the rest of you in the Salt – finally!

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