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swimsuit addict

Chilly beach swim

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I enjoyed a calm but chilly nearly-2-mile swim today at Brighton Beach. Contrary to the forecasts, it was an overcast day. The crowd of CIBBOWS swimmers that turned up this morning were looking for the sun to come out as the day, and our swims, progressed, but it stayed stubbornly hidden behind the low-lying clouds. But the beach has its own beauty that shines in any weather, and I enjoyed being in and near the water on this silvery palette-ed day.

Cara measured the water temp as we were getting in, and it was a little colder than anyone expected—between 54 and 55. This was a bit of a drop from last week. Although swimming a loop today would have boosted my confidence for the 5k swim I am doing in a couple of weeks, I was focused more on being cautious about getting too cold, and the temp reading just strengthened that resolve. I haven’t swum outdoors much this season, so I am not as confident as I might otherwise be in my cold-water acclimation. I have also been getting uncharacteristically cold in the pool this week—on Thursday at Riverbank, when Rondi and Hannah were sighing over the too-warm water, I was quite comfortable, and even grew a little chilled when we stopped to chat. So I decided today was a day to pay special attention to my body and how it was feeling, and to be sensible about turning back if I was getting chilled.

Cara, Richard, Melissa, and I set out towards the pier. There was a lot of activity down that way, with two barges stationed towards the pier’s end, repairing the damage to it that hurricane Sandy did last fall. There was also a lot of other activity on the water today, with police boats paralleling our swim route and helicopters flying low overhead. Thankfully no jet skis out today though—one benefit of the cloudy cool day! Melissa and I separated from the others after a bit, and ended up swimming together past the aquarium and to Coney Island. It seemed like a very long time since I had been out this way, and I was glad to see the familiar sight of the Cyclone and the rest of the amusement park as we passed by. By the time we reached the WonderWheel, just a couple of jetties short of the pier, I was beginning to get chilled and was ready to turn around. Melissa decided to come with me, so we reversed course and headed back to our starting point.

I was a little worried about the cold I was feeling, but also enjoying the sensation, and glad I had a swim buddy with me today. We made good progress, even against the current—I was ready to be back at this point and was swimming harder, rather than being the sight-seer I’d been on the way out. We were swimming a bit further out now, but as we passed by the jetties I could still detect a fishy smell at each one. A couple of times I turned over and backstroked in order to watch the helicopters swooping low over us, and wondered what they were doing, and if they were watching us swim below. After the last long jetty I pointed myself towards the pavilion on shore. I could see the group of CIBBOWs swimmers congregated on the sand, and I was glad I was close to the end.

When I got out I got dressed quickly on the beach. Melissa and I had been in about an hour. I had packed plenty of warm clothes and a down jacket, even though I hadn’t been sure I would need them today. I shivered as I drank my thermos of hot tea and welcomed the others as they trickled back in from their swims. I had gotten chilled through, but not unpleasantly so. Several of us compared our mottled skin as blood flow returned the surface unevenly and made interesting patterns on our legs.

I didn’t have time to hang out much afterwards, but enjoyed the subway ride back with my pal John. The trains were packed with finishers from the Brooklyn half-marathon, which finished at Coney Island and attracted over 20,000 runners. A couple of today’s swimmers today ran that race, then swam with us afterwards!

It’s unusual that the water is warming up so late this year. The first race in the area takes place next weekend—the Great Hudson River swim, put on by NYCSwim. It’s short, and allows wetsuits, but even so I hope the water is out of the 50s by then, because temps like today’s can be a shock to swimmers unused to them, no matter what they are wearing.

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