An open-water weekend
by, October 1st, 2012 at 08:40 PM (1120 Views)
I had a very fun weekend full of open-water swimming. On Saturday I went out to Brighton Beach for a swim—I went to the pier and back—followed by CIBBOWS’s annual volunteer party at famed boardwalk bar Ruby’s. It had been a while since I was last out at Brighton, and it was wonderful to see all my beach pals there. Fall beach season has officially started—the water was around 66 degrees, and felt wonderful. The ocean was full of little organic thingies—tiny, filament-y stuff suspended in the water. I recalled something I had read about some sort of ocean fauna—tuna, I think—whose young migrated to “nutrient rich” waters. This water seemed very nutrient rich, but I didn’t see any larger fauna taking advantage of it, other than jellyfish.
And seabirds. There were a lot of gulls around, and at one point when I was swimming back from the pier I lifted my head to sight and saw a cormorant sitting in the water, only about a foot ahead of me—another stroke and I would have made contact. It was watching me calmly as it floated along. I said hi and circled around it.
After my swim I hung out on the beach, visiting with friends and eating my lunch, then practiced cartwheels and fancy skipping with Hsi-Ling. (Beach plyo, as I think of it). I tried to get people to go back into the water with me for synchro, but had no takers—most everyone was either done with their swims and already dressed, or just heading out. After a bit we all wandered up the boardwalk to Ruby’s, where CIBBOWS was providing food and drinks for a few hours. I hung around in the bar a bit, then headed out onto the Coney Island Pier with a few like-minded friends. Although I have swum to this pier dozens of times—it marks the western end of the 5k loop we all swim—I had never actually walked out on it before. It was fun to have a new perspective on the beach and jetties, as well as educational—what looks very far out from shore when we’re in the water seems fairly close in from higher-up.
I also found out that while I’ve been away, my CIBBOWS swim buddies have been adventuring into new waters. Many of them have been swimming past the pier, down to the last jetty before Seagate. In fact, the big divide is not whether people go past the pier or not, but whether they go around or under. I have never swum past the pier before, and now I’m definitely feeling behind the curve. I know where I’m going next time I’m out at Brighton! (And I think around is the way to go—I know I’m not brave enough to go under!)
I spent a little more time at Ruby’s before heading home for dinner and a good night’s sleep before the next day’s adventure. On Sunday I rode the train up to Cold Spring to swim the 10+K Bannerman’s Island Return course in the Hudson. I had done this swim a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it immensely—it’s a wonderfully scenic section of the river—so I jumped at the chance to do it again when Rondi and Dave decided that a second test swim was warranted. This time there were eight swimmers, divided into 4 pods of 2, with a kayaker accompanying each pair and Agent Orange patrolling the course and collecting data. I was partnered with John H, with Terry as our kayaker, and we all worked well together and enjoyed a wonderful day on the river.
On our trip up to Bannerman’s we enjoyed beautiful sunny skies. We probably dallied a little more than we should have, submerging to listen to the noises barges make under water, doing synchro, and just stopping to enjoy the glorious views—for the tide turned a little bit before we got to Bannerman’s. But the current against us wasn’t as strong as last time, and we were able to easily swim against it to the northern tip of the island before turning around and riding it back downriver to the start. In the process I confirmed that I might be part salmon—I really enjoy the sensation of swimming against the current. I think of those cylinders of water that I’ve seen in aquaria that contain salmon swimming against a spiraling current. That would be me if I had my druthers.
On the way to Bannerman I could see some very dark clouds moving in from the west, and when we stopped for our first feed after rounding the island we could hear thunder in the distance. We were instructed to swim close to shore on the way back so that we could get out quickly in case the thunderstorms came our way. Luckily they did not, although some rain did. It was very cool swimming with such dramatic skies around us, and I felt safe with Terry and Agent Orange nearby in case of trouble.
Eventually the skies cleared, and by the time we finished our swim—3h25m later after we started—the sky was again sunny and blue. I had a very nice ride home on the train admiring the river I had just swum in. It was a great way to close out the weekend.
And here's a video from the swim, during a visit from Agent Orange while we were swimming upriver:
[nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA29JmGbmNI"]P9300070.MOV bannerman island test swim - sun sep 30, 2012 (b) janet and john huges - YouTube[/nomedia]