I had a nice but short swim at Brighton Beach today. I had been very lucky to get in a 5-mile swim a couple of days before Hurricane Sandy struck in late October, and this was my first time back there to swim since. The water has dropped to 46 degrees—more than 10 degrees lower than the last time I was in—and my body hasn’t had a chance to acclimate to the lower temps, so I decided that I would be conservative about how much time I spent in the water today.
The train ride out was an adventure, and was punctuated by several unexpected changes of trains and a 40-minute wait at a station in Brooklyn. Luckily I had a fellow CIBBOWS swimmer keeping me company—Pauline and I found each other while waiting and had a nice chat. Finally we arrived at the beach, where we found a half-dozen swimmers getting dressing and shivering after their swims, and a couple of others still in. The foggy day was mild in comparison to recent ones, with air temps in the low 50s. I chatted a bit while getting prepared to go in, then headed out into the water.
It was cold. Walking into the water just plain hurt. I took my time getting in, and after my feet and legs numbed up a bit I found the courage to put my head in and start swimming. Once I started stroking it was better—wading in and dunking really is the hardest part! I swam towards the big jetty to the east, and after a few minutes began to feel a nice warmth suffusing my core and eventually spreading to my face. It really felt as though I were swimming over hot springs. I’ve had that reaction to swimming in cold water before, although not in a while—it tends to go away the more acclimated to the cold I get. I savored the warm feeling and enjoyed swimming easily along in the flat water.
When I got to the jetty I was feeling great, and thought about continuing along to the white building. But I reminded myself that I was being conservative today, so turned around. I swam back, a little closer to shore now, and watched the bottom swaying under me as the gentle waves carried me along. When I got back to my starting place I could see Hannah on shore, holding my swim parka for me in case I wanted to get out, but I was still enjoying the water so I continued on. I saw some birds congregated on the water ahead of me, so stopped and swam around them, then swam about half-way to the next jetty. I was still pretty warm, but my feet and legs were starting to feel tingly with cold, so I decided to turn back around.
I swam back to my starting point, did a few strokes of backstroke, contemplated swimming further, but decided it was best to leave myself longing for more ocean swimming than to get too chilled my first time back. I’d swum about 1K. I got out, gratefully accepted my parka, then went back up to my blanket to quickly get dressed before the shivering set in.
Once dressed, I walked up and down the beach until the shivering was almost gone—it wasn’t too violent today, but my teeth were definitely chattering. I hung out with the rest of the CIBBOWS crew, enjoyed some food, then we headed back up to the subway. The trains were behaving better on the way home, but today’s ratio of travel time to time in the water still might have set a record. It was totally worth it though! I have missed the beach, and was so grateful to be back in the water and back among friends out on the sand today.