Huntington Masters Swim Team

The Huntington Masters Swim Team ("HUMS"), an official club of US Masters Swimming, holds daily early-morning pool workouts year-round at the Huntington YMCA, 60 Main Street, Huntington (contact the Y at 631-421-4242 for Full Y membership fee information).

Indoor Pool Workouts in one of the Y’s two 25-yard pools begin at 5:30 a.m. weekdays and 7:00 a.m. weekends and last one to two hours. These workouts are open to all Full Y members.

Open-Water Swims are held from May to November at West Neck Beach and other local Long Island beaches. Outdoor swim schedules are posted on The Water-Blog.

Want to swim for the Home Team? You can! Join HUMS at

Monday, November 21, 2011

Night Swimming

( image of West Neck Beach early morning in November before a night swim )

This is type of open water swimming is dangerous. However, when done with an experienced swimmer, this type of swimming is STILL dangerous. Please take care when planning your outing. Ideally, any night swimming should include a few people and an escort kayak.

Night swimming or swimming before sunrise, is something to be experienced. If you are lucky or plan well, the moon and stars will be out. The star and moon view is simply stunning. For some , night swimming is a necessity for event training. For others, its about experiencing something different, getting out of comfort zones or pushing boundaries.

The thoughts and techniques outlined below are my experiences/techniques during night swimming. Yours may be different and I am by no means an expert but I thought its worth sharing. It is difficult to find any information on what do to in order to swim in the black of the night. Please take care if you decide to undertake a moonlight outing.

Time of Day

In many cases the swimmer can/should choose carefully when to swim in the dark - evening or morning. If you have a choice, you need to consider a few factors before deciding on when to enter the water.

At WNB, the best moon light is in the morning. The image above is about 4am and shows the setting moon and the light reflecting on the waters. The moon sets in the west over Center Island(NY). From about 3am to sunrise, the moon shines right at WNB beach. When you start swimming in the dark, start with the initial swims during full or near full moon with clear skies. Like all weather its impossible to arrange but if it happens, take advantage of it. A moon lit swim at night offers extra navigational tools using the light on the water and the moon can be used as a sight point.

There is many things to think about when you start swimming in the dark. The moon is VERY comforting during these initial attempts, a friend.

The boat traffic in the pre-sunrise morning is fairly predictable. Clammers are out just before sunrise and go to certain spots in the harbour, depending on tide. I swim north , close to the shore and stay away from any of these lanes . Evening boat traffic is less predictable and , honestly, contains DWI boat drivers and stupid drivers. It is suggested to stay away from that group of boaters in the dark. It is one of the main reasons to swim in the early AM, rather than in the evening. If you have escorts and well lit swim party , it does offset the boat issue in the evening.

Seasonal :

When swimming in the morning, my timing is to be at the beach 90 minutes before sunrise. This allows 15 minutes to get into the water and over an hour of swimming before sunrise . I like to combine dark swimming with morning light swimming. This means that start times will be very very early in the summer.

For that reason, I tend to do most of my night swimming in the fall, with a few 4am runs in the summer when its practical.

Visibility : ( Boats seeing You )

This year, Carol Moore ( the POD-Mother ) of WNB introduced swimmers to a personal buoy for Open Water swimmers. In the day times, its very useful. In the night, stuff this buoy with two or three glow sticks. This will light up the buoy and at a distance clearly identify "something" in the water.

As a second visible method, attach several glow sticks to your wet suit or around your bathing suit when you are without wetsuit . Take a simple boot lace and tie it around your waist. Attach the additional glow sticks ( one , two or three ) . I use green and red colors.

Body Balance

It would be fair to believe that swimming in the dark requires no stroke change or modification. My experience would suggest that is not completely true and consideration for the dark conditions must be observed for a joyful or efficient swim experience. Swimming in the dark can be incredibly disorienting. Your balance will be all off due to the lack of normal balance points. You sighting will be off due to lack of points of reference and shore markers. You need to compensate

The first time I saw swam at night for any length, I thought I was going to fall over when I walked out of the water ( or at times thought I was going to be sick in the water ). As you swim, you will be disorientated in several very specific ways.

1) Which way is down for my head . When do i stop moving my head
2) How do I breath or where do I breath.
3) Where am I ( am I swimming straight ?

Normally when we swim we use our eyes to help keep balance and body position. Try swimming with your eyes closed and you get the idea. Add waves ( a different topic in night swimming ) for an higher sense of disorientation. Without some light, it becomes difficult to maintain good body position and proper balance. Finding the right place to finish your head movement below the water can be accomplished with a few techniques. Remember your body glow sticks. They don't give alot of light but they give some. It that can illuminate the water around you . Get used to that low light and focus on keeping you head down ( as normal ). Instead of trying to use only your eyes, add to it your head's movement timing and the feeling of your head moving with your body. Think hard about your head and neck from the point of breathing to proper head down position. Practice it in the pool. Keep that motion constant , smooth and minimise the effort. And Look for the glow from the sticks.

When your head comes up to get a breath, look for shore or sky spotting marks - a house light, a street light, a star cluster or the moon. If your planning is good, you have a full or partial moon and stars. Cold Spring Harbor ( the best place in the world to Open Water Swim, IMO ) , the moon sets perfectly over the harbor. The moon can be both a north bound spotting mark and a source of light. It can illuminate the water just enough to aid in the disorientation issue.

At the start, take the swim slow. Don't try to push your speed until you get comfortable with head movement and reducing disorientation.

- use the glow of the glow stick to help find "down" when your head is in the water
- time your head movement ( in pool and in OW ) and keep it very consistent. Keep head movement to a minimum
- look for breathing sight points on each breath.

How the do you sight in the dark. ? First, place flash light ( I also use a RED glow stick with the flash light ) at your exit point from the water. It provides you a guaranteed end point for the swim and something to see on the trip back. Its a sight point for the way back. In the dark you need to sight more often. Given a lack of proper sighting while swimming, you will swim in a circle ( image below is case in point .. A swim of mine ( Ken, Lisa as well ) in the fog without sighting points as plotted by GPS).. Look for your end points, shore marks, etc. Do not believe that you will just swim straight. In the dark, sight more often.

Next : North Shore wave swimming

Monday, November 14, 2011

Will Exercise Help You Age Well?

Exercise may help your muscles even as you age up and up and up... and, as much as we all LOVE to swim lap after endless lap and lift, and run, and bike,... wouldn't it be nice to know that besides making us feel good today that the exercise we do today will help us age well tomorrow? 

According to a very interesting New York Times Health story "Aging Well Through Exercise" by Gretchen Reynolds, exercise may just be the key! 

So, keep up the good work, pat yourself on the back and read Gretchen's article HERE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Cold Water Swimming

As we head into the fall open water season , the warmer waters of the summer have long since disappeared. Water temperatures in the 70s and 60s were very acceptable, sometimes even too warm. Now.. not so much. Some thoughts on cold water swimming.

Specific cold water swimming techniques are necessary to expand you swimming into November and December.

What? Some old classic methods and some new methods. In cold water swimming the primary goal needs to be to protect your CORE - center of your body - your heart. If you protect your core, other parts of your body stay warmer. When your core is cold, the body will draw blood from areas like your hands, feet, legs, arms and head. This lack of blood contributes to the coldness hands/feet/head and muscle issues ( cramps for instance ). If you reduce the need for the extra blood , your hands/feet will be warmer. Booties or socks for warmth and rock protection but you can also exist with just simple swim caps and no gloves. Remember though, these techniques delay the affect of cold water, not eliminate it, so you always have to be aware of the warning signs. If you are shivering in the water, time to get out. If you WERE shivering and now don't time to really get out and deal with hypothermia.

So, how to protect your core?

Simple - before every swim, drink something warm, with sugar is better. I drink hot chocolate just before.


Look at other cold weather sports to gain some insight. In other distance sports, layers are used to stay warm ( running or skiing ). We need to find a way to swim with multiple layers. This will create small thin sections of warm water to help stay warm.

Compression clothing is a great inner layer. On upper body, use a compression top ( from SKIN ) . Others have them - NIKE, UNDERARMOR.. Compression gear is very tight ( overly tight ) with little room for air or water. BUT when in the water, that small space gets filled with a thin layer of water. Its tighness keeps the water close and does not allow it to be replaced often with colder water. That first layer will warm up quickly. The second layer is between the compression clothing and the wet suit. Since the compression clothing is meant to exercise in , it has no affect on body movement. ( specifically long sleeve, heat wear .. have not tried the cold wear compression gear ).

For the lower body use a non-pouruos swim suit - full leg version. These types of swim suits were used heavily at the China Olympics for pool swimming. The material does not let water thru and is skin tight. Compression leggings should also work. ( again SKIN, NIKE, UNDERARMOR ) You can also use a full body "speed suit" that is sufficiently tight.

This new layer will help protects your CORE. When you move from one layer to two layers, you should feel the difference in body temp and ALSO in hands/feet temp. Its important to note that putting on a tshirt will not help . It does not create that layer we need. The layer needs to be very thin and not allow much movement of water.

So.. Compression clothing + 5mm wetsuit = more warmth. .. yes!


Well not really oil, but this technique is well understood. November is optional but a good idea in December and January. Cold water marathon swimmers use it alot. The compression and wetsuit layers keep your body warmer and slows down the temperature drop, but you will still feel the nasty cold water on your skin. For exposed skin, you can use simple Vaseline or Vaseline/Lanoline/ layers. You can use on your face ( Vaseline ) but keep away from your eyes. It helps to take the edge off very cold water.


As the water temperature drops in the 30s, you need to add some techniques to your swimming style. The cold water reflex will start to really kick in. Your body will want to push air out quickly as you swim. Instead, you have to take overly deep breaths and slow your breathing down. It takes practice. The first time you deal with the cold water reflex is when entering the water. Do not rush to swim fast. Get your face used to the cold first. A good idea is to use Breast Stroke , allowing your face to be wet and cold while controlling my breathing. Once breathing regularly, start freestyle. It may take a minute or two but it is much better to sort out so the reflex issue does not kick in.


When you leave the nice warm water into the very cold air, you face two problems. When you are swimming in cold water, every muscle in your body is contributing to your warmth. For cold water swimming you need to methods to warm your body as soon as you stop swimming.Clearly the air will NOT be doing it.

You need to prepare everything for the water exit BEFORE you start swimming. When you exit the water, your blood will be rushing everywhere to try and recover warmth. Add to that, your muscles will NOT be pumping as hard. You are in a serious heat deficit. Your body needs help so it will start shivering. It will try to shiver to warmup. We want to avoid the nasty shivering.

Make sure you have gloves, hats, towels to cover up. Keep it right at the shore line. By preparing for the right type of exit, your cold water recovery is faster and less troublesome. By following some simple rules on exiting the water , you can reduce the shivering and bad recovery time.