I was a bit concerned about what the lake would present to us at 5:15am since the forecast called for 20mph+ winds – typically a precursor of very high waves. Fortunately, the lake was nowhere near as bad as it could have been!
Our first official meetup of summer sure didn’t feel like it. The air temperature was a brisk 59F when we arrived at L1, and we had a steady wind from the north that was making it seem more like an early spring morning. Nevertheless, the lake rallied in our favor and provided us with a magnificent 63.1F reading.
The swim was a bit of a challenge given rather heavy chops and 2-3 foot swells. Plus, the winds picked up mid-swim and intensified the swells even more. Still, for as agitated as it was, the lake was perfectly clear and you could easily see 8 feet to the bottom.
A quick swim report since we finally got a sunny day, and I’m not going to stay inside and squander the first official day of Summer!
We had yet another fantastic turnout for our last official Spring meetup, including several Lake Monsters who we haven’t seen since last October. The lake temp came in at a crisp 60.6F – almost the same as the air temp. And while we didn’t get a full sunrise due to the overcast skies, the sun did peek out very briefly and gave us a nice sendoff to our swim.
I got in an out-and-back mile, which was a bit more challenging on the way back due to a slight southbound current. But everyone had a blast on the second longest day of the year!
Quite a crowd of swimmers showed up at L1 just before 5:15am. And for those that were training for an upcoming Alcatraz swim, it was the ideal setting!
The angry yellow and red bands of thunderstorms that showed up on the weather radar were fortunately passing to the south of us when we arrived at the swim site. But we still had to contend with some of the peripheral effects of the inclement weather – namely a heavy fog layer that all but obliterated the skyline. However, we got a surprising bonus from Mother Nature that greatly enhanced our swim experience.
For this first time since last October, the meetup lake temperature came in at above 60F. I say meetup temperature as I have heard rumors that it flared past that coveted mark earlier in the week. But since we only care about the conditions that are there when we’re on site, this was a welcome first for the year!
After the typical socializing/procrastinating, we all got in the murky lake and started the journey south to Oak Street Beach. Visibility was good in-swim, but it was impossible to sight off of the skyline. That really wasn’t much of an issue since the swells were minor (less than two feet) and you could clearly see the side wall the entire time.
I finally caught up with some of the others at the beach. I snapped a few shots, and we all turned around and headed back. By the time we arrived back at L1, the air temperature had risen a bit from the rather chilly 56F that greeted us at sunrise. This, coupled with the 60.4F lake temp, was probably why I had no afterdrop at all despite swimming sans wetsuit.
Hope to see more of you out there soon!
L1 at 5:15am
A surprisingly large crowd on a chilly, foggy morning!
There really is no way to spin it – 5:15am is dreadfully early in the morning. Plus, the absolute last thing you want to do at that early hour on a Saturday is to jump into a cold, wavy lake. But we Lake Monsters are a hardy lot!
Ma Nature gave us a smackdown this morning with overcast skies, 53.8F water temperatures, and 2-4 foot swells that walloped us the entire time in the lake. Nevertheless, an intrepid crew of ten Lake Monsters tempted fate and got in a swim just after a very fleeting but resplendent sunrise.
The half mile to Oak Street Beach was actually fairly straightforward since we were swimming with the current. The way back to L1, though, was quite an ordeal. Being a slower swimmer, I was one of the last out of the water. So I got the benefit of all that extra time in the frigid lake (lucky me!).
A few of us stuck around for a while after the swim and socialized. By then the sun had started to come out more. Plus we had plenty of time (it was still only 6:30am, after all). But I was still in the throes of a persistent afterdrop, so I hightailed it back to my car to ratchet up the heat.
Already the sea runs red. Even among some of the lightly wounded who jumped into shallow water the hits prove fatal. Knocked down by a bullet in the arm or weakened by fear and shock, they are unable to rise again and are drowned by the onrushing tide. Other wounded men drag themselves ashore and, on finding the sands, lie quiet from total exhaustion, only to be overtaken and killed by the water. A few move safely through the bullet swarm to the beach, then find that they cannot hold there. They return to the water to use it for body cover. Faces turned upward, so that their nostrils are out of water, they creep toward the land at the same rate as the tide. That is how most of the survivors make it. The less rugged or less clever seek the cover of enemy obstacles moored along the upper half of the beach and are knocked off by machine-gun fire.
We sure had our work cut out for us this morning out at the old swim site!
I got a real early start and made it out to L1 just before 5:00am. Judging by the crisp colors showing up on the eastern horizon, I could immediately tell that we were in for a spectacular sunrise.
The lake temperature came in at a uniform 55.4F which was just slightly higher than the air temperature. And while we had clear skies and great visibility, we also had a 10mph sustained wind coming from the southeast that gave us some rather vigorous chops.
Four new swimmers as well as several seasoned Lake Monsters showed up just before the sun made its grand appearance at 5:20am. And as you can tell by the photos, it was one for the ages!
I went in with just my jammers and swim cap this time, and I managed to do the full out-and-back mile. The return leg seemed much easier, and I suspect we had been swimming in a slight northbound current on the way to Oak Street Beach.
Despite the heavily agitated lake, visibility was excellent – you could easily make out the ridges in the sand eight feet below the surface. And even with the random chops constantly buffeting us from all sides, it was still one of the best swims we’ve had so far this year!
As I have opined incessantly over the years, if you slept in this morning you really missed out!
Nine of us met out at L1 just shortly before 5:30am. Despite the weather radar showing bands of storms in the area, L1 managed to escape this fate – at least at that time in the morning!
The lake temperature (surface) came in at 55.4F. However, that proved to be a bit misleading. There was a definite thermocline layer about one meter below the surface that probably dropped the lake temp by about 5F. But all told, the average lake temp whilst in swim averaged out to be 54.8F – warm enough to go sans wetsuit.
Plagued with a head cold and limited sleep, I nevertheless managed to get in 2/3 of a mile before finishing up. I started out at L1 this time and turned around just before the tall white high rise on Lake Shore Drive. Although it was a bit of a shock at first due to the insidious colder thermocline layer, I was quite comfortable after a few minutes. Plus the lake conditions were ideal – clear water and absolutely no waves or chops.
I got back first since I had cut my swim short a bit, and the sun quite surprisingly decided to make an appearance. The sky was pretty solidly overcast, so this was a very welcome diversion. And the extra sun rays really helped stave off the inevitable afterdrop!
All in all, everyone had a great time and finished up well before the rest of the city even woke up.
So enjoy these amazing Spring mornings while you still can because pretty soon the boisterous summer throng will begin to descend upon the lakefront earlier and earlier in the day!
I get a lot of flack for scheduling these meetups so godforsakenly early on a Saturday morning. But what people don’t realize is that this is the absolute best time of day to get in the lake – and yesterday was no exception!
A great group of both new and seasoned Lake Monsters met out at L1 just before 5:45am, and at first we weren’t sure we were going to get much of a sunrise. There was a bank of clouds to the east that was obscuring the horizon, and it didn’t look like we would be able to see anything before we started our swim. But a bright orange orb peeked through an aperture in the clouds and gave us quite an amazing send off to our swim!
The official lake temp came in at 50.5F, and the water conditions were calm and flat – a welcome contrast to last week. I once again did the jog to Oak Street Beach with a half-mile swim back, and it was quite comfortable in just my jammers and swim cap.
By the time everyone returned to L1, the sun was out in full force giving us yet another amazing start to our weekend. Wish you all could have been there, too!
Are you an event organizer in charge of promoting a for-profit or charity swim? Or are you a race director for a triathlon looking to tap into Chicago’s multi-sports market? Well you’ve come to the best possible place!
If you don’t have much of a budget, one great way to promote your event is through the OWC Facebook Fan Page.
Here you will get exclusive exposure to a pre-qualified group of over 2,000 open water swimmers who are always highly motivated to sign up for the next big swim event!
So how do you do this? It’s really easy.
Just send me a note with the details of your event along with your contact information. Or call me directly at 312-927-0299 if that’s easier.
I’d be happy to work directly with you to arrange a marketing event or promotion that best fits your needs and your budget.
As a quick background note, I do not allow any type of unsolicited product or event promotion on the OWC Facebook page. I created that policy because I didn’t want the page to get hijacked by spammers – which is exactly what happened when I first started the page. Also, as OWC has grown over the past 7 years, the costs to me in both money and time have grown substantially.
Bottom line, I am actively (and unashamedly) looking for ways to monetize OWC so I can continue to grow the Chicago open water swimming community – and by extension your customer base. So if you decide to support me in my efforts, it will be a win-win for both of us.
So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with me ASAP – before one of your competitors does!