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!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Goodbye, June-uary...Hello, Summer!

"Welcome to ‘June-uary,’" my cousin posted in response to my recent Facebook lament that I was still wearing flannel pajamas to bed (thanks for the coinage, John Austin Totter!). It’s been that kind of a schizophrenic month weather-wise, as air temperatures repeatedly ping-ponged from the 50s into the 90s and then back down to the 40s. The water temperature never had a chance, and it held a narrow range between the low 50s and low 60s while Spring-minded Podders and triathletes with looming upcoming events blinked and shrugged as weekend after weekend they tiptoed into water that still felt like the ice floes that had thronged the harbor throughout the seemingly endless winter. One of the earliest events of the season, the Huntington Sprint Triathlon, held on May 31st, saw numerous swimmers pulled from the 52-degree water at Crab Meadow Beach, several of whom were taken to the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. Reportedly most of those were not wearing wetsuits, and I’m guessing this might have been their first venture into the open water since last season. (The best defense against hypothermia? Acclimate, acclimate, acclimate! – but not on the day of the event!)  

Happily, all swimmers recovered, and so did the temperatures, with this weekend of more "seasonal" weather and water temperatures in the mid-60s finally giving swimmers a taste of the Summer to come and, for those who are so inclined, an invitation to shed bulky full wetsuits for long-johns/janes or just bathing suits. Tony Alizzi kindly volunteered (i.e., was drafted!) to step in as "Podmaster" this weekend while I was away, and in addition to offering guidance on the tide and the suggested route, helped to orient a fresh batch of "newbies" and provide loaner "floaty-bags" for the unprepared.

More good news: Weekday swimming has resumed at 6:00 ("in the water") on Wednesday and Friday mornings and, for us lazybones, at 8:00 on Friday mornings. And of course our regular weekend schedule of 8:00 a.m. swims continues until...well, until ice floes return to the harbor!

Next weekend Summer officially begins, with the Solstice this year taking place on Sunday, June 21st! As the water temperature continues to rise (look for temperature postings on the West Neck Pod Facebook page), we’ll look forward to seeing more and more of our "poolie" brethren joining us in the Salt, along with the "newbies" who continue to seek out the West Neck Pod for their first open-water experiences.

The following weekend, the Fourth Annual West Neck Swim will take place at West Neck Beach on Sunday, June 28th. This highly acclaimed event offers 1-mile, 2-mile, and 5K events with both wetsuit and non-wetsuit divisions. If you’re registered for the Swim, you still have time to check out the venue and "test the waters" with the seasoned swimmers of the West Neck Pod.  If you’re not registered, what are you waiting for? Visit the West Neck Swim website at westneckswim.com for details and registration link.

Next Sunday, June 21st, is also Father’s Day. Not to be a downer, but on Father’s Day 2010 I was nearly chummed by a speeding motorboat as I swam towards the south buoy with a bunch of fellow swimmers (see my blogpost at http://thewater-blog.blogspot.com/2010/06/happy-fathers-day.html?m=0). That close call (I mean, close: I could read the serial number on the boat’s Evinrude motor as the boat driver swerved to avoid me at the last possible second!) ultimately led me to discover and purchase the "SaferSwimmer" flotation buoy from the International Swimming Hall of Fame, which they developed to help protect open-water swimmers from boats and other hazards in the open water. Now, five years later, nearly 100 West Neck Pod swimmers have purchased "floaty-bags," which you can see dotting the surface of the water virtually any day at any time! That’s my long-winded and roundabout way of wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day, and of doing my part to help ensure that those among us who are fathers, or who have or had fathers, always come home....
Speaking of families, all of us in the West Neck Pod family have friends, family members, colleagues or co-workers who have been affected by cancer in some way, or are themselves cancer survivors. That’s why for the fourth year in a row, the West Neck Pod is participating in the annual "Sound-to-Cove" Swim Across America to raise funds for local cancer research. Last year "Team West Neck Pod" raised more than $38,000.00 to fund the cancer research and treatment and family-support efforts of institutions and agencies right here in our own backyard, including Cold Spring Harbor Research Laboratory right across the harbor. This year, Tony Alizzi will be our Team Captain, and I urge you to join our team and help your fellow swimmers raise money to fight cancer, stroke by stroke by stroke. For more information about the Sound to Cove Swim (at Morgan Park in Glen Cove on Saturday, August 8th, follow this link: http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/site/TR/OpenWater/NassauSuffolk?pg=entry&fr_id=3383

To register as a member of Team West Neck Pod, follow this link: http://www.swimacrossamerica.org/site/TR/OpenWater/NassauSuffolk?pg=entry&fr_id=3383

For more information, contact Tony Alizzi at anthonyalizzi@gmail.com.

See you in the Summer Salt!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy (*eeeeeek!*) New Year!

The annual New Year's Day open-water swim at West Neck Beach has become a hallowed West Neck Pod tradition, and the newly arrived 2015 was no exception.  Despite near-freezing temperatures, white-capped waves and a ferocious wind, three other mermaids answered the siren call of acting mermaid-in-chief Joye Brown on New Year's Day, and took the Pod's first plunge into the 2015 Salt (I was away on vacation and missed the swim, alas!). Gae Polisner, the only one of the four not wearing a wetsuit, stripped off boots and pants and ran in barefooted and waist-high, staying in only long enough to utter the high-pitched, pitiful scream you can hear distantly at the end of this video, taken from the dashboard of Gae's parked car. Sorry for the poor image quality, but it's worth sticking through to the end just for the audio! Gae was followed into the churning waves by Joye and her wetsuited cohorts Kathy and Carole Wickham who went for the full monty (no, not the movie kind!)...The icy rain that's falling now is predicted to last into tomorrow, so prospects for a reprise on this first weekend of January 2015 are dim...but we'll keep you posted!  Happy New Year -- See you in the Salt!




video