Swim Report – July 5, 2014 – Morning fireworks edition

If you missed out on any of Friday night’s fireworks shows, you had a chance to catch nature’s version early Saturday morning. And it was a much better show, in my opinion!

Around ten of us gathered at L1 shortly before the sun made its grand appearance. However, the pre-dawn skies were already brilliantly lit up in various shades of red. So we knew we were in for quite a display. And Ma Nature, as always, did not disappoint!

At or around 5:21am, a fiery reddish orange orb announced its presence on the eastern horizon and quickly rose to capture everyone’s attention and imagination. We delayed our swim start a bit to take in the show, and we eventually got around to getting in the lake so that we could enjoy the sunrise at water level.

The lake had cooled off a bit from last week, coming in at a near perfect 65F. We had a variable northbound wind creating some chops that were a slight challenge to swim in during the voyage south. But the current assisted swim back to L1 more than made up for it.

I stuck around afterwards and took a leisurely swim out to the buoys to check out the skyline and lakefront path from that perspective. I had my rescue buoy with me, so I could very easily have floated out there for hours – and in fact was quite tempted to do just that! But other plans and commitments put a kibosh on that idea. Perhaps next Saturday?

Daybreak at L1





In-swim shot near Oak Street Beach


Annabel, Lake Monster 314 (congrats!)


The Twins make an appearance


Views from the bouy



Another look

Swim Report – June 28, 0214 – In the chops

The days are starting to get shorter, so I bumped up our swim start time to 5:30am. We had a great turnout at such an early time slot, including several new Lake Monsters!

The lake temp came in at a scalding hot 68.8F, and we had a north wind that created some rather annoying chops. Still, it was a perfect morning to get in the lake, and we managed to finish our swim just as the sun disappeared behind an encroaching cloud bank.

(No big narrative today – time to get outside again and enjoy these longer days of early summer!)

Lake Monsters at daybreak


In-swim shot on the way to the beach


Group shot at the halfway point


Hannah, Lake Monster 311, hailing all the way from California!


Patrick, Lake Monster 312


Diane, Lake Monster 313


Swim video!

OWC Mindshare 3: Managing Anxiety and Panic While Open Water Swimming

It’s normal to be anxious before and during an open water swim.  But if this isn’t managed effectively, it could lead to panic, exhaustion, paralysis, or even drowning in a worst case scenario.  The key thing that most people do not understand is that anxiety and panic are two separate phenomena, and that there are specific strategies and tactics for managing both.  

In this pivotal session, we will review this topic area in depth.  Areas to be discussed include the science and physiological mechanisms of anxiety and panic, how they are “anchored” to our emotional system, how they can escalate out of control in the open water, and what you can do to successfully manage them.  Here are the details:

OWC Mindshare 3: Managing Anxiety and Panic While Open Water Swimming

- Date: Saturday, June 28, 2014

- Time: 7:00am

- Location: Vicinity of Ladder 1

- What to bring: Just yourself as this is a land-based seminar (i.e. no swimming involved!).  You can also bring something to eat or drink – I will likely be doing so!

- Cost: Feel free to donate to OWC at any time after the clinic if you feel that it was in any way valuable to you!

[For more details on the OWC Mindshare series - CLICK HERE]

Swim Report – June 21, 2014 – Summer Solstice Edition

About 15 swimmers showed up for our last swim of Spring and first swim of Summer.  And with the official solstice taking place at 5:51am, we were able to combine both into one single workout!

The lake temp came in at a balmy 64F which helped make up for the damp and foggy 58F air temperature and a complete lack of sunshine.  Undeterred by the poor visibility and increasingly choppy water, we all got in the gray-green water.

The fog was very heavy, and the beach only came into view during the last 1/8 mile.  So sighting was pretty much an exercise in futility, and the only real way to gauge one’s progress and whereabouts was to use the east wall as a guide.

Nevertheless, we all braved the cold and spooky lake and started off the summer with plenty of bragging leverage over the countless legions of “fair weather” swimmers (you know who you are)!

P.S. Congrats to all the new Lake Monsters (or should I say “Fog Monsters”?)!

P.P.S.  Yet another great turnout for our second OWC Mindshare clinic!




Swimmers in the mist



Into the drink


Jason at the beach (just at the start of summer!)


Paul, Lake Monster 305


Jeannie, Lake Monster 306


Sarah, Lake Monster 307


Allison, Lake Monster 308


Patti, Lake Monster 309


Chris, Lake Monster 301


First video footage of the Summer!

OWC Mindshare 2: Cold Water Swimming 101

Training in an indoor pool may help you with techniques and endurance, but all bets are off when it comes to managing colder water temperatures during an open water swim!  However, if you understand the science behind this and you practice certain techniques, you can actually excel in this environment.

In this much requested session, we will review this topic area in depth.  Areas to be discussed include human thermoregulation, cold water physiology, immersion shock,  pre-swim preparation, gear selection, and in-swim techniques.  Here are the details:

OWC Mindshare 2: Cold Water Swimming 101

- Date: Saturday, June 21, 2014

- Time: 7:00am

- Location: Vicinity of Ladder 1

- What to bring: Just yourself as this is a land-based seminar (i.e. no swimming involved!).  You can also bring something to eat or drink – I will likely be doing so!

- Cost: Feel free to donate to OWC at any time after the clinic if you feel that it was in any way valuable to you!

[For more details on the OWC Mindshare series - CLICK HERE]

Swim Report – June 14, 2014 – Late Spring bliss…

After a chaotic week where the air temperatures dipped into the low 50F’s, we lucked on out Saturday morning with a nice, sunny day – and a relatively warm lake.

The official water temperature measured just under 62F at 5:15am, but the lake conditions were about as ideal as you could get.  So after the usual socializing/procrastinating phase, we all slipped into the lake rather quickly.

Given the flat and calm water, the swim south to the beach was quick and efficient.  We had a steady north wind to contend with on the way back which gave us a slight current.  But we still made pretty good time on the return to L1.

What made the morning especially significant, though, was the presence of several new Lake Monsters – including Lake Monster #300!  As a celebration of this milestone, we gave out a new pair of Barracuda Triton goggles.

[NOTE: For those of you interested in ordering Barracuda swim products at a special discount, be sure to check out openwaterchicago.com/deals]

‘Nuff said.  Here are the pics and video:



Pool party at 5:15am



Sunrise at water level


Renee, Lake Monster 299


Geneva, Lake Monster 300 [yay, we hit the 300 mark!]


Amanda, Lake Monster 301


Greg, Lake Monster 302


Tony, Lake Monster 303


An artistic shot of Rick, Lake Monster 304 (Photo: Josh Jones)


Sunrise video!

OWC Mindshare 1: The inner game of outdoor swimming

Believe it or not, you are actually “wired” to thrive in the elements.  But you will only be successful if you understand how you interact with a highly dynamic external environment at a physical, emotional, and logical level.

In this kick-off session to the OWC Mindshare series, we will review this topic area in depth.  By the end, you should have a much better frame of reference to guide you with your open water swimming – as well as elsewhere in your life.  Here are the details:

OWC Mindshare 1: The inner game of outdoor swimming

- Date: Saturday, June 14, 2014

- Time: 7:00am

- Location: Vicinity of Ladder 1

- What to bring: Just yourself as this is a land-based seminar (i.e. no swimming involved!).  You can also bring something to eat or drink – I will likely be doing so!

- Cost: Feel free to donate to OWC at any time after the clinic if you feel that it was in any way valuable to you!

[For more details on the OWC Mindshare series - CLICK HERE]


OWC Mindshare: A new model for open water swim education!

Are you tired of feeling like a shipwreck survivor whenever you finish an open water swim?

Well, that’s exactly what you will get when you train to merely “survive” the swim!

How about OWNING the swim instead?

In other words, what if you could actually THRIVE in the open water environment and have it be an ENJOYABLE CHALLENGE instead of a “necessary evil” that you just need to “get through?”


I’ve been in your situation.

I know what it’s like to be facing an upcoming open water swim and to not feel adequately prepared to deal with the uncertainty of the experience.

And I also know how frustrating it is to be told by inexperienced coaches that the solution to your dilemma is to “just do it” and “get more laps in” out in the lake.

Bottom line – this approach doesn’t solve your problem!

You need SPECIFICS – strategies and tactics that will enable you to excel in the open water and to actually ENJOY the experience.

And most important, you want this from a TRUSTED ADVISOR who can provide valuable guidance based on real experience in Lake Michigan (imagine that!).

Fortunately, there is now a new and exciting alternative to the status quo!


Open Water Chicago is thrilled to announce “OWC Mindshare” - a new series of specialized clinics designed to give you key insights and tools you need to successfully navigate open water swimming.

Starting in June, I will be scheduling and conducting 30-45 minute interactive educational sessions which will take place at 7:00am (after our swim meetups and within the vicinity of L1).

The topics will vary, but below is a current list of several areas we will cover based on the feedback I’ve received from all of you:

- The inner game of outdoor swimming
- How to effectively prepare for cold water immersion
- Anxiety and panic in open water swimming: why they’re completely different and why they require separate strategies
- Reality-based sighting: how to really keep your bearings in a chaotic swim situation
- How to handle swimming and breathing in waves, chops, and currents
- Gear selection for open water swimming: what is the best setup for various situations?
- Drafting: how to conserve energy through other swimmers
- How to conquer an Alcatraz swim – or any other SF Bay swim

So what does this cost?


All you need to do is show up, listen, ask questions, and seek clarification on anything we go over during that session. You don’t need to bring any swim gear as these will be “land-based” sessions.


Here’s the key – if you think you have received any value from any of these clinics, then feel free to go to the OWC website at any time afterwards and donate WHATEVER YOU WANT by clicking on the blue “Support OWC!” button on the middle right side of the page.

If you do NOT think you derived any value from attending these, then please do NOT feel obligated to donate anything. Yes, I am serious!

So why this compensation model?

Because I only want you to pay for this if you honestly feel that I provided you with something of value to you and to your specific situation. And by you voting with your wallet, you help me “up my game” and provide you with better information, guidance, and coaching overall.

So that’s it! I will be announcing the first OWC Mindshare session very soon, so please keep checking the OWC home page as well as the OWC Facebook Page.

And thanks again for all your continued interest and support!



Swim Report – June 7, 2014 – Dangerously enjoyable

According to the Chicago Tribune, 63F is “dangerously cold” water. However, Lake Monsters seem to thrive in these conditions…

As we edge closer and closer to the summer solstice, the sunrises (and swim times) grow ever earlier. And yet we have been getting more and more people showing up in the wee hours of the morning to partake in our weekly ritual of awesomeness. So much for logic!

We had about 20 swimmers show up at L1 just before 5:15am on Saturday, and they were all treated to a magnificent show once the sun started to blaze above the eastern horizon. As noted above, the lake came in at a surprisingly warm 63F with perfectly flat and clear swimming conditions. So as soon as the sun was fully out in force, we all got in the lake.

In the absence of any chops or currents, the swim to and from Oak Street Beach was an easy glide through the water. As such, I was able to work on my bilateral breathing – something which proved to be indispensable given the blinding glare of the sunrise whenever I took and eastward-facing breath.

A group of us met briefly at Oak Street Beach before heading back to L1. I was a little chilled during the first 10 minutes after getting out of the water. But I didn’t really have a noticable afterdrop this time. So I can accurately say that Summer has finally arrived at L1 (in more ways than one)!

(P.S. – congrats to all the new Lake Monsters!)



Checking out the sunrise


First brave swimmer!


They’re off!


Michele, Lake Monster 294


Steve, Lake Monster 295


Cady, Lake Monster 296


Jim, Lake Monster 297


Luke, Lake Monster 298


Video at the beach!

D-Day – June 6, 1944

Excerpt from “First Wave at Omaha Beach” (S.L.A. Marshall, November 1960):

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.