I enjoyed a very pleasant week of swimming, almost all of it outdoors. NYC’s public outdoor pools began their lap swim season last Tuesday, so there’s a bounty of outdoor swimming opportunities between now and the end of August. Here’s what last week looked like:
Monday—Riverbank, indoor (50m) + outdoor (25y) pools
Wednesday—Lasker Pool (Central Park, 50+ meters) evening lap swim
Thursday—Brighton Beach play day + swim
Friday—John Jay Park pool (77th near the East River, 48 1/3 yards) morning lap swim
Saturday—Brighton Beach, 4-mile adventure swim to Seagate and back
I’m grateful to pool tourist to introducing me to the city’s wonderful outdoor pools—looking forward to collecting cards from a record number of them this season!
My pool swims this week were mostly just easy freestyle laps. I’ve lost a couple of weeks of real training—both swimming and diving—to an injured left calf, but thankfully that seems on the mend. The good news is that it’s just a muscle injury, not tendonitis or anything worse. I’m seeing a PT who is working on it, and was able to swim and even push off pool walls with moderate force on Friday without pain. I get to check out how it feels diving again tonight. I was worried early this week that this injury would keep me from competing in IGLA in mid-August—swimming with any force was quite painful, and diving was out of the question--but now I’m feeling more hopeful about my prospects. I’ll just need to adjust my expectations, and maybe compete in just the 1m springboard event rather than both (I still need to learn some more dives for the 3m, and I’m not sure yet how much the calf will limit my board time between now and then). Not being able to train properly 4-6 weeks out from a swim meet is annoying, but luckily I’ve had the distraction of these new outdoor swimming venues to keep me focused on the pleasure of swimming itself rather fretting about not being able to do everything I want to in the pool.
The OW swims this week have really been fun. On Thursday the beach was a cool and breezy refuge from the hot city, and yesterday’s swim was especially wonderful, as I explored a new route at Brighton. The Coney Island pier is usually the turn-around point for swims there, but I’ve been intrigued by reports of other swimmers going beyond it. So yesterday I recruited a swim buddy, and Caitlin and I swam under the pier and down towards Seagate before turning around for the return journey, about 4 miles roundtrip. It was a very foggy morning when we set out—we were just able to make out the jetties as we swam from one to the next—and everything looked ghostly in the white mist, cormorants and ships and jetties all. We had a strong current with us, and were swept swiftly westwards whenever we stopped to look around and appreciate the spooky morning. Finally we the pier loomed ahead of us. I let Caitlin swim through first—she’s braver, and had been there before—then I followed. I was a little afraid of running into jellyfish, or rubbing up against the barnacled pilings, so I swam swiftly through and didn’t linger. Once on the other side, I waved up at the construction workers on the pier who were watching us, and they waved back and asked us how the water was. (The pier is still closed to the public as it’s being rebuilt after Sandy, so we didn’t have to worry about navigating around any fishing lines).
The beach beyond the pier looked very similar to “our” beach, but the shapes of the jetties and buildings were unfamiliar, and the juxtaposition was uncanny. We weren’t sure how far the beach went in this direction, so swam in short segments, to the next jetty or lifeguard stand that we could make out in the fog. We saw a lot of boat traffic, and there must have been more out in the channel, judging by the symphony of foghorns. It was such a cool experience being out there, with everything except the water itself seeming slightly eerie. Finally we spotted the last lifeguard umbrella that marked the end of the beach, with a very long jetty beyond it. We swam to that lifeguard chair then turned around.
On the return trip we started seeing sunlight reflecting on the water, patches of blue started appearing in the sky, and the fog eventually burned off, leaving a pleasant sunny day. The current was against us, but with a clearer notion of where we were going we swam strong against it without as many stops. Finally we were back at the pier. This time I stopped on the way under to admire the different shades of green water as we passed from shadow to light, to appreciate the endless-pool effect of the current as I did breaststroke by the pilings, and finally to do some backstroke and watch the underside of the pier get closer and recede as the waves carried me up and down. What a fun place to play—I already want to go back!
On the way back we found a pod of Team New York swimmers and synchro circled with them, then met up with various CIBBOWS friends at various stages in their workout. The water turned deep green in the sun, and there were small rolling swells that rocked me gently as I swam. It had turned into a gorgeous sunny day—the perfect way to end a fun week of swimming. Hurray for summer in the city!