Swim Report – January 3, 2015 – North Avenue Beach!

The great thing about freezing rain is that it is 32F – the exact same temperature as the lake this time of year. This means we don’t have issues with our goggles fogging up during the swim!

Marton and I met out at L1 at 7:30am earlier today, and L1 was a completely iced over – well past where the buoys normally are during the warmer months. We deliberated going up to Montrose Beach, but we instead decided to check out North Avenue Beach. And lucky for us, NAB was clear!

We were already suited up (I was, at least, since Marton went sans wetsuit), so we quickly got in the lake and waded out to where the depth was chest-level. A slight but sustained wind from the south/southeast gave us a bit of a challenge on the return leg of the swim. However, I was surprised at how comfortable I was in the colder water as compared with some of our swims in December.

It looks as if I am finally acclimating to Old Man Winter!

Ladder 1 iced in

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But NAB free and clear!

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Pre-swim video clips

New Ice Monster!

Dave took his sister, Anne, out to our Montrose swim site yesterday were she officially earned her much coveted Ice Monster designation. Way to keep it in the family, Dave!

In-swim selfie

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Anne, Ice Monster 16 (congrats!)

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Swim Report – December 28, 2014 – Miami Beach Edition

A belated report since I just got back to Chicago yesterday afternoon, so I’ll make this quick!

I had a chance to meet up with the Nadadores swim group last Sunday while down in South Florida, and boy was it ever an adventure! The water temperature came in at an amazing 76F, and the weather was – of course – as good as it gets. But the idyllic azure Atlantic ocean had some hidden surprises for us…

Before the swim, Diego scouted out the area between the beach and the buoy. While there were some scattered jellyfish farther out, it all looked pretty feasible at first. So we waded out past the breaking waves and started to swim south parallel to the shore.

We were about 10 minutes into the swim when we started to run into denser and denser clusters of jellyfish. I was able to dodge them all thanks to the added buoyancy of the salt water. But we soon arrived at a veritable jellyfish wall that was completely impassible.

We turned around and headed back the same route. However, more and more jellyfish had floated in with the surf and now greeted us in our previously clear swim route. Once again, I managed to contort myself around them and avoid any tentacles, but I didn’t want to press my luck any further.

So in the end, even though it was a short swim, it certainly made up for it in intensity!

A big shout out to Diego and the other Nadadores. I hope to see all of you again soon!

Swim start

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Moon jellyfish (sorry for the bad shot – I was moving away pretty quickly when I took it!)

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Pre-swim (pre-jellyfish) video

2014 Sunrise Edition

As we close out the year, here is a photo tribute to all of the amazing sunrises we experienced while out at the lake. Happy 2015!

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Swim Report – December 20, 2014 – Nick’s Sendoff

Five intrepid swimmers turned out to get in one last swim before the end of autumn. And lucky for us, Ma Nature gave us great conditions!

The lake came in at a crisp 34F – almost the same as the air temperature. And just like last week it was perfectly calm. So it was relatively easy to manage in full neoprene (after the initial shock of the cold water surging into our wetsuits, that is).

We all swam out about 50 meters past the orange post (around the 1/4 mile mark), so we got in a good 1/2 mile in the calm but bracing lake. As usual, the only real areas of discomfort were our fingertips. My Dry Five gloves worked okay during the swim, but I’m starting to think that I may need to get a new pair come January (OWC donation hint).

There were two significant milestones this morning. First, Nick is moving north to Milwaukee and will not be a regular at L1 for a while. Quite a bummer, as we will surely miss him!

Second, by getting in a 1/2 mile swim in sub-35F water, Fred secured a much-coveted Ice Monster number. So he is now #15 in that elite group!

So as you can see, despite all the challenges that come with being on the verge of the Winter solstice, you still have no excuse for not coming out!

Ice Monsters gearing up

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Nick’s final L1 descent (for a while at least!)

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Heading south!

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Post-swim champagne

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A surprise visit from Eddie

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So long, Nick!

Swim Report – December 13, 2014 – A Brief Reprieve (and Experiment!)

The winter power trio (Marton, Fred, and yours truly) met out at L1 at 7:30am to get in a swim while the weather held out. Unlike last week, we had quiet and calm conditions – both inside and outside of the lake.

The air temperature was the real star this morning coming in at a fiery 42F. The lake, quite surprisingly, measured almost 37F – a slight uptick from last week. But best of all, we had no wind and a perfectly flat lake!

Given this fortuitous set of weather conditions, I opted to forego the full suit in favor of just my hood, gloves, booties, jammers, and short sleeve thermo rash guard. I also wore a pair of neoprene shorts – having learned a valuable lesson last year that one must adequately insulate all extremities (you figure it out…).

I won’t mince words. The first two minutes in this set up were pure torture on my uncovered arms and legs. And while the thermo shirt did offer significant protection, it was by no means as insulating to my core as neoprene!

Nevertheless, I pounded through the pain and eventually reached an equilibrium point where the frigid lake no longer bothered me. I went out to the orange post, which is almost exactly 1000 feet from L1 per Google Earth, before heading back. So in total, I got in just under 40% of a mile in these ideal swim conditions.

As usual this time of year, we didn’t dither around after getting out of the water. I changed into my winter clothes as quickly as possible and trotted back to my car to crank up the heat. Fortunately, I was able to find a spot on the first street west of L1 – so I managed to save $10 as well!

Morning skyline

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December beach party!

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Pre-swim video

Swim Report – December 7, 2014 – Late Autumn Chops!

Fred, Marton, and I met out at L1 and got in some lake time on this blustery December morning. The air temp was a crisp 37F with a constant east wind that nipped at our fingers whenever we took off our gloves. Given the roiling lake conditions, I wasn’t able to get a thermometer reading by the ladder. But I’m estimating it was around 35F.

We suited up right away and got in the lake as quickly as possible. It was really hard to get into any kind of swim rhythm since we had both strong waves and “washing machine” chops that were ricocheting off of the side wall. But we did manage to get in a little over 1/4 mile – although certainly not in any straight line!

All in all, another great day at the beach!

Sunrise

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December skyline

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A belligerent lake

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Pre-swim video

Swim Report – November 22, 2014 – Welcome to the Sub-40F Zone!

A hardcore crew of seven swimmers met out at L1 for our first unofficial winter swim this morning. I say unofficial because winter technically doesn’t begin for another 29 days. But if you were out there today, you would have had a hard time convincing anyone it was anywhere near autumn!

After a ridiculously frigid week, Ma Nature gave us a break today with a balmy 35F air temperature. However, this did very little to assuage the impact of the bone chilling 37F lake.

We all got in the water as quickly and efficiency as possible, but it was still a real shock right from the start. I had on my full winter gear this time, and I managed to get in a half mile before my fingers started to get numb. Not a big deal – more annoying than anything.

The only real glitch, though, was a leak in the right lens of my goggle which ensured that one eye was always soaking in ice water – not fun at all. But I figured out that the edge of my the lens was overlapping my swim cap. After several tries, I finally fixed it and could go back to enjoying the swim.

Thanks to all the extra layers of neoprene, I didn’t really have an afterdrop to contend with once I got out of the water. So as much as I try to be stubborn and go sans wetsuit for as long as possible, I have to confess a renewed appreciation for being able to swim in calm and comfort!

As always, it was another amazing morning out at L1. Good luck to Emily and Andy as they relocate to Denver – and hopefully start another OWC (Open Water Colorado)!

Foggy morning

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Cold start

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Water-level shots

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Post-swim recovery

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Today’s video!

Swim Report – November 15, 2014 – Happily Ever Afterdrop

The hourly forecast for today showed clear and sunny skies from 7:00am to 9:00am – and for once the meteorologists were spot on!

Five of us gathered out at L1 at 7:30am. The sun had risen 30 minutes prior, but I wanted to make sure it was in full blaze once we entered the water given the outside weather conditions.

Despite the abundant sunshine, we had to contend with a 21F air temperature and a lake that read 42.7F. The latter was the surface temp – I’m estimating that the in-swim water was around 40F tops!

I went with almost full body neoprene – a wetsuit top along with gloves, cap, and foot covers – with only my lower legs and neck exposed. It was a bit of a painful first five minutes, but I was able to acclimate by that point thanks to the perfectly calm water and absence of any wind.

Since I felt like I was “cheating” with all that neoprene, I decided to swim the full out-and-back mile this time. While it was certainly doable, I was completely spent by the time I returned to L1. I haven’t been swimming that distance regularly – so I was a bit out of shape! Plus, even with the extra layers, the cold really sank into one’s bones.

Post-swim was a real challenge. Since I was moving really slowly, I opted to keep on my wetsuit top and jammers and just put on layer after layer in an effort to stave off the inevitable afterdrop. And that turned out to be the best idea since it hit me with full force once I got back to my car!

Once I started the engine, I cranked the heat to full blast and rode out the worst part of the shivering. All in all, it was a good half hour until I “broke through” to the calm at the end of the storm (ugh).

But even with this temporary discomfort, it was well worth getting out to the beach on one of our very rare sunny mornings this time of year!

Long shadows

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Crazy sunshine

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Our own private skating rink!

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Pre-swim scene

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This morning’s video

Swim Report – November 8, 2014 – Fall Turnover Edition

Six of us met out at L1 just after 7:00am, and what a difference a week makes! Unlike the chaos of last week, we had a mirror flat lake with a very slight wind that really didn’t impact the water conditions at all.

The lake temp came in at 48F (surface) which was just slightly warmer than the 43F air temperature. However, Nick pointed out another key change from last week – namely, that the water now had a murkiness that we typically only see during the winter months. So for better or worse, it looks like the Fall turnover has finally arrived!

Given the colder lake temperature, many of us opted for full or partial neoprene. Since I only did 1/2 mile this time, I took a chance with just my jammers and a dual silicone/neoprene cap. And while the first two minutes were predictably terrifying, it actually became quite pleasant once I had fully acclimated.

As soon as we all got back and exited the water, we wasted little time getting into dry clothes in a valiant but futile effort to stave off the inevitable afterdrop. But even with numb hands and chattering teeth, none of us would have traded this morning for a boring ole’ pool swim!

Lake Monsters pre swim!

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