Swim Report – October 22, 2017 – Evading Old Man Autumn

Autumn closed its dark gray grip over Indian Summer on Sunday – but not before we got in a swim in all the sunshine!

Four of us met out at L1 just before 7:00am. The lake temp came in at 62.0F (official in-swim reading), and the air temp was a tolerable 60F. But we had a sustained and rather cutting wind from the southeast that made things seem very brisk out at the ole’ swim site. Plus, to keep things lively, Lake Michigan gave us some vigorous chops just to let us know who was boss!

I went with just my swim cap and jammers, and the initial immersion was a bit of a jolt. I tried to assuage this by taking a cold shower about one hour earlier, but my ability to properly thermoregulate has been somewhat compromised by the nightly squalls of Hurricane Joseph. Nevertheless, the chill wore off after about a minute, and I started my swim south.

I did 1/2 mile total in the surprisingly clear lake, and I was even able to find a rhythm in the heavy chops. Overall, it was quite an enjoyable experience with the glorious October sun streaming in from the east.

But the best part was that the clouds didn’t move in until just after we had gotten out of the water. So we were able to escape the clutches of Old Man Autumn one more time (probably our last)!

Dawn colors


Into the chops!

Views from water level

The geese have discovered our swim spot

Swim Report – October 15, 2017 – Deluge

Three of us met out at L1 yesterday morning at the tail end of this weekend’s inundation. Despite the gusty wind conditions outside, the lake was as calm as could be. Plus the official water temperature came in at a balmy 63.4F – not bad at all!

I swam to the 1/4 mile point before turning back, so about 1/2 mile total. Post-swim was a bit nippy as the air temperature was only 61F and we didn’t get much of anything in terms of sunshine. But the skies were starting to clear up a bit at that point, so we definitely timed everything right!

Drizzly morning

Other L1 swimmers

In-swim shots

Swim finish!

Swim Report – October 8, 2017 – Marathon Morning!

Daryl, I, and a flock of geese met out at L1 early Sunday morning. Given the marathon mess taking place to the west, I came in from north Lake Shore Drive and avoided LaSalle Street altogether. I wasn’t expecting to have a civil swim site waiting for me, so imagine my delight when I exited the pedestrian tunnel to face near perfect conditions!

Longtime readers of this blog know that I strongly contend that October sunrises are the best ones of the year. That’s because you have the perfect combination of color, contrast, and clarity – and the show starts way before the actual sunrise with all the haunting colors of daybreak. So for all of you pearl clutchers who gasped in horror at the idea of coming out to swim on marathon morning, you sure made a bad decision!

While the sunrise was nothing short of astonishing, the lake conditions were absolutely flawless. The in-swim lake temp came in at 64.6F, and we had perfectly calm swimming conditions with clear, blue water that was an absolute joy to swim in.

As before, I swam to Oak Street Beach and walked back – but not before hanging out for several minutes taking more shots of a perfect Lake Michigan.

Truly one for the ages – but where were you?!?

Autumn sky at dawn

L1 Geese


B-roll filming by Channel 2 News

Our own (free) private swimming pool

Swim finish at Oak Street Beach

More geese

Marathon runners!

Today’s video:

Swim Report – September 23, 2017 – Autumn Scorcher

Summer went out with a bang this year and decided to spill over into Autumn this weekend. Not that any of us minded, however…

The air temperature read 80F when I stepped outside yesterday morning, and it continued its upward climb throughout the day. I had snuck out to the lake on Friday morning, so I wasn’t too surprised by the lake temperature. Still, after weeks of it rather obstinately entrenched in the 65F range, it was awfully nice to see it back at 72.5F!

We had a record crowd out at the world’s best swim site – at least 25 swimmers from what I can recall. The heat wave coupled with the later meetup time seemed to have sparked much more interest in coming out to the lakefront. Plus the rumor that we were going to have perfect swimming conditions turned out to be true (again, not that any of us minded.)

We all got a bit of a late start as we were very distracted by the absolutely stunning sunrise. But once we got in the lake, it was business as usual making our way to the beach.

Because the lake conditions were perfectly calm, I was able to get a decent swim rhythm right away. So by the time I hit Oak Street Beach I was hardly winded at all! Nevertheless, I still decided to walk back as I ended up spending a lot of time at the beach taking more shots of all the swimmers.

By the time I got back to L1, things had really started to heat up and the lakefront was getting exceptionally busy – particularly on the multi-use path. So I figured that this would be a good time to make a quick exit before the weekend mob arrived.

Happy Autumn 2017!

First dawn of Autumn

Swarm of Lake Monsters!

Another photogenic morning

The in-swim view to the east

Beach landing!

Andrew, Lake Monster 476 (congrats!)

Simon, Lake Monster 477 (congrats!)

Becca, Lake Monster 478 (congrats!)

Erin, Lake Monster 479 (congrats!)

Marc, Lake Monster 480 (congrats!)

Nicole, Lake Monster 481 (congrats!)

Carlo, Lake Monster 482 (congrats!)

And lastly, Eric, Lake Monster 483 (congrats!)

Joey, Lake Monster 475

Swim Report – September 16, 2017 – Late Summer Perfection

There’s nothing like a perfect swim morning to make up for a very rough evening…

Hurricane Joseph became a Category 5 storm at 2:00am last night. So given that I was completely spent by the time it came to leave for the swim, imagine my joy when the lake turned out to be completely civil this time around!

Summer surged back this week and warmed up the lake to an idyllic in-swim temperature of 69.6F. The air was already 72F (and climbing), and the water conditions were about as good as it gets. We had several new faces out this morning as well as some Lake Monsters we haven’t seen at L1 for a while. This made for a very social morning while extending our usual pre-swim procrastination that much longer!

I had planned to swim to the beach and walk back, but I got a bit of a late start taking Lake Monster photos of everyone. Plus I had to get back home real quick to take care of some Eastern yellow jackets that had decided to build a colony in my brickwork. So instead, I went out to the 1/8 mile mark and did a loop out to the buoys and back – about 1/2 mile total.

I finished up ahead of the others who did the entire out and back and took off just as they were making their final approach to L1. By then the sun was out in full force and the lakefront was starting to really come alive.

I wish I could have stayed out there all day!

Crescent moon at daybreak


Lots of pics at our photogenic swim site!

In swim shots

The author sporting a super cool South End Rowing Club swim cap (Thanks Fran!)

Eric, Lake Monster 468 (congrats!)

Linda, Lake Monster 469 (congrats!)

Left to right – Hannah, Lake Monster 470; Sarah, Lake Monster 471, and Kate, Lake Monster 472 (congrats!)

Pat, Lake Monster 473 (congrats!)

Khoga, Lake Monster 474 (congrats!)

Evicting the yellow jackets

My household at 2:00am

Swim Report – September 9, 2017 – Big Rollers

Ma Nature doesn’t cut us any slack once August ends. While the lake temp is still quite balmy at 65.6F, it’s not the 70F+ we were enjoying just a few short weeks ago. So for better or worse (mostly better!), the lake has started its downward slope for the year…

Four intrepid Lake Monsters met out at the greatest swim spot on the planet yesterday morning, and we certainly faced some challenging conditions. While we had a great lake temp, we also had a 10mph sustained breeze from the southeast that was making the 62F air temp seem much cooler. Plus, we had some pretty fierce swells that were also generating some rather pesky chops near the shoreline. But apart from our normal pre-swim procrastination, we wasted little time getting in the water once we got suited up.

The route south was a bit punishing as the lake kept pushing me towards the side wall where all the messy chops were. So I expended a lot of energy just getting back out to a more predictable swim area. Fortunately, I managed to figure out the wave pattern halfway into the swim. And since it was fairly consistent, I was able to burst and hold in between the swells and let the waves carry me forward from there.

Once I got close to the beach, I made a sharp turn west so I landed further away from good ole’ Hell’s Corner – the infamous area where the wall meets the beach and where you get nasty pyramidal waves that come at you from all sides. As luck would have it, the waves weren’t as strong as I had expected, so the beach landing was fairly uneventful.

As with prior weeks, I called it a morning and walked back. The steady breeze made things a bit nippy for part of the way, but the clear skies and full on sunshine helped stave off the afterdrop. Nevertheless, I sure was glad to get back to L1 and into some dry clothes!

Dawn colors

An angry lake

Sunrise by the water crib

Lake Monsters pre-swim (with the Moon photobombing us from above!)

Man versus Nature

The view at water level

The author in the swells

In-swim video

Swim Report – September 2, 2017 – Catchin’ Waves

With the lakefront swim advisory lasting almost all of last week, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get in a swim on Saturday morning. Fortunately, the lake had calmed down a bit overnight. But not by much I can assure you!

The surface temp at L1 read 69.1F at 6:15am. But it was hard to get a steady reading as the lake kept casting out my thermometer. That’s because the swells were large enough that they were cresting about halfway up the ladder whenever they hit the side wall. However, there was a least a rhythm to this mess – unlike the chops from last week. So for better or worse, the swim was a go!

I hung around L1 taking some shots before heading south behind a phalanx of Wheaton College swimmers (who soon left me in the dust). I had just gotten into a decent swim pattern when I hit a nasty seaweed patch that had some deflated party balloons thrown in just for fun. I zigzagged around it but never really escaped all of nature’s finest throughout the swim. In fact, there were very few swimmers who managed to make it to the beach without a souvenir seaweed necklace!

As with last week, I chose to walk back versus swim back. I probably could have done the whole mile if the lake were calmer, but I didn’t want to spend the entire holiday weekend recovering in my backyard hammock – although that’s sounding mighty inviting as I write this!

Again, even though it was an intense physical challenge, it was one of our better swims this summer. The water temp was perfect, sunrise was magnificent, and we had the whole place to ourselves. Too bad you all missed out!

Skyline at daybreak


Another sun shot in swim

The setup for the AVP volleyball tournament at Oak Street Beach

Claire, Lake Monster 465 (congrats!)

Jennifer, Lake Monster 466 (congrats!)

Bethany, Lake Monster 467 (congrats!)

Swim Report – August 26, 2017 – Back in the Chops!

A whole merry group of us met out at L1 at the late hour of 6:10am. The lake came in at a fantastic 72.0F, and the sunrise was nothing short of other-worldy. But we sure had our work cut out for us with the water conditions!

We lucked out in that we didn’t have the high volume swells that we’ve had in prior weeks. However, we did get some very vigorous chops that created quite a ruckus all around our swim area. Plus these things are notoriously exhausting as it’s nearly impossible to maintain any semblance of a swim rhythm while immersed in them.

Nevertheless, several veteran and newly minted Lake Monsters gleefully plunged into the abyss and earned their bragging rights for the weekend (and beyond)!

I delayed my swim start as I was busy snapping shots of the other swimmers. But once I got started, I knew this was going to be one of the more challenging ones.

I hit the 1/8 mile mark, and I was already a bit gassed out. That’s because the chops were heavier than normal – which meant that you were getting buffeted from all directions and having to react to those forces. However, by the 1/4 mile point I had kind of found the micro-pattern in all the chaos and was able to get into some semblance of a swim groove.

I made it to Oak Street Beach where several of the others were already waiting. I opted to jog back versus swim back because 1) I had to get back home ASAP, and 2) I was already beat from that bear of a swim!

But if you are a frequent reader of all these posts, you know that we Lake Monsters don’t consider a swim like this to be a bust. Instead, we look at these opportunities as fun adventures – even if we only make it to the second ladder!

Sunrise sequence

The Wheaton College crew!

At the edge of the abyss

Heading south in the chops

At the beach!

Meredith, Lake Monster 459 (congrats!)

Alice, Lake Monster 460 (congrats!)

Monica, Lake Monster 461 (congrats!)

Emily, Lake Monster 462 (congrats!)

Kristen, Lake Monster 463 (congrats!)

Alex, Lake Monster 464 (congrats!)

Swim Report – August 12, 2017 – Summer in the City!

About ten of us met just before 6:00am at L1. The air temperature was a bit crisp at 61F with a rather pesky breeze making it seem chiller than normal. So most of us waited until the sun peeked out from behind a wall of clouds to the east before starting our swim.

Fortunately for us, the lake was a blazing 73.0F. I was planning to swim to the beach and walk back as usual, but I decided to instead go to the 1/4 mile mark and do a large loop out by the buoys.

By the time we all returned back to L1, the wind had stopped and the sun was out in force. If I didn’t have so many other things to do up north, I could easily have just hung out there all day!


Taking the plunge

Lake Monster sightings

Hanging out in the pool post swim

Mary, Lake Monster 458 (congrats!)

In-swim video