Swim Report – August 30, 2014 – Lucky morning!

Due to holiday weekend laziness, I am only just posting this today (Labor Day). I’m going to keep this brief since I’m heading back to the beach soon to get in one last swim of the weekend!

According to the weather forecast, Saturday morning was supposed to be touch and go with a likely chance of either rain or full on thunderstorms. Fortunately for us, we got neither while we were out at the lake. So instead of an L1 disaster, we got a 74.4F lake and relatively flat swimming conditions that made for a pretty easy out and back to Oak Street Beach.

We didn’t really get much of a sunrise during the swim since we had a wall of clouds to the east obscuring everything on the horizon. But the sun did peek out soon after we finished – just in time to enjoy it for a short while before heading out.

Once again, another fantastic morning out at the lake!

Lake Monsters pre-swim


Heading south


A quick pause at Oak Street Beach


Jared, Lake Monster 327 (congrats!)


Peter, Lake Monster 328 (didn’t get your L1 pic – sorry!)


Video of the swim start that you missed out on

Swim Report – August 23, 2014 – Swimmers in the Mist

It’s been a while since we had this much fog at a meetup (June 22 to be specific). But even without the sunshine, the lake was quite comfortable with the nice and toasty 74F water temperature!

Around twelve swimmers made it out for the 6:00am start time – including some new swimmers as well as some Lake Monsters we haven’t seen for a while – and we had fantastic swim conditions. In addition to a very warm lake, we had near flat swimming conditions that allowed for a very quick swim to and from the beach. And despite the limited visibility of the beach and skyline, it was quite easy to follow the wall and stay on course.

After we finished, we socialized a bit more and checked out all the “supergroups” of runners now invading the lakefront path. Thank goodness we don’t have to deal with that level of congestion in the water!

Congrats to all the new Lake Monsters!



Lake Monsters gathering


Swim start


At Oak Street Beach


Hanging out post swim!


Terry, Lake Monster 322


David, Lake Monster 323


Jennifer, Lake Monster 324


Jen and Ken, Lake Monsters 325 and 326


Selfie out by the buoy!


Video at Oak Street Beach

Swim Report – August 16, 2014 – Air Show Weekend!

Even though sunrise is closer to 6:00am these days, I kept the meetup time at 5:45am so we could avoid the Air Show crowds and chaos. In the past, the city has shut down the L1 swim area for the event, so we wanted to make sure we could get in a swim while it was still allowed!

Twelve of us made it out to L1 for the pre-sunrise swim – including three new Lake Monsters. And we pretty much had ideal swim conditions with the 71.4F lake temp and almost perfectly flat water. So we suited up right away and started our swim to Oak Street Beach.

Given the calm waters (quite a contrast to last week!), it was a fast out-and-back swim – even with the extra time spent socializing at the beach. So when we returned to L1, the lakefront was still fairly empty of the anticipated crowds.

All that changed in a matter of hours, though. But by then we were long gone!

Pre-dawn skyline


Everybody in the lake!




At the beach



Half moon


Swimmers heading north


Home again!




Sara, Lake Monster 319


Jose, Lake Monster 320


Ketty, Lake Monster 321


Today’s video compilation:

Swim Report – August 9, 2014 – Swimming Chaos at L1

My first official swim back at L1 was a real slap in the face – quite literally at times!

With sunrise coming at closer to 6:00am these days, we got to sleep in a bit before hightailing it out to L1. Seven of us made it out, and we were greeted with an angry lake sporting 4-6 foot waves and very vigorous chops. We also had to navigate several large patches of seaweed throughout the swim. Needless to say, this all presented quite a challenge for everyone!

The one saving grace, though, was the lake temperature which came in at a very pleasant 73F. But even that wasn’t enough to keep us in the water for any extended length of time!



Swimmers in an angry lake


“Hell’s Corner”


Seaweed ball at Oak Street Beach


Sam, Lake Monster 318 (congrats!)


Your Swim Reports!

Happy August!  As promised, below are some of your swim reports and war stories from the last couple of weeks.

See you soon!


Mary Ellen (Lake Monster 185)

(Jul 18)
Red and I went for a sunrise swim this morning, 7/18. We waited till the sun was above a low band of clouds and got in around 5:45. There were gentle, low swells and if the temp wasn’t 70 it was darn close. Bonus – the temp was consistent throughout the swim! Didn’t come across a single cold pocket.

Martin (Lake Monster 230)

(Jul 26)
05:35, water ~63-64F at L1, ~65F at OSB (Martin’s thermoreceptor reading), water completely flat, visibility approx 2 m, sunrise visible through clouds, Emily and I swam the normal 1.5 km, OSB time 14:05, on the way back I used a somewhat higher stroke rate, 13:30. There were four swimmers preparing to swim when we arrived to L1, probably triathletes from Ohio S B. Cycled home and went straight back to sleep until 11. 14/60. Eventless swim, I am so sleep deprived after a tough week I was afraid of falling asleep while cycling.

(Jul 24)
Non-swim. 0:30, Skyline Wall, observed the lake for a while then hung on to a ladder in swim attire for five minutes, quite an experience, 8 ft waves with Force 5 wind, it is wetting the 3rd platform, showering me from above, one wave made me lose footing and I was only hanging on with hands. I judged this far too dangerous to swim at night, chance of being smacked against submerged rock or the wall is simply too high. Water temp 17-18°C. With 6 ft swells it was safe to do in April.

(Jul 15)
Midnight, Polar vortex nostalgy. Marton L1 nighttime swim writeup and how-to, publishable version. L1 water temp est. ~17°C, 63F, 2 ft chaotic swells, air temp 17-18°C, 64F. Cloudy with light rain ending shortly before swim. Rode my bicycle to L1 with a bicycle helmet on top of a swimming cap and ear plugs, in shorts on top of compression shorts, used a pair of completely destroyed shoes, no socks, dirty towel around waist, swim goggles in pocket. Hid the entry card for my building in the soil next to a low concrete wall, covered with some leaves as usual, tied my keys around my waist with a sling. Locked the T-shirt, shorts and bicycle to a sign post with a U-lock. You have to cut either the shirt or the U-lock to get the T-shirt. The towel and the shoes are for free, worth about $0 and you still risk a beating if I catch you stealing them.

The water felt like 62-63F, not that bad. I entered slowly, took a few breaststrokes, immersed my head then swam butterfly to L6 in 6:30 min. It felt comfortable, tiring but sustainable. Some more butterfly to about the 400 m point, then I took off the goggles and swam to the white house, 500 m point and turned around. Swam heads-up breaststroke all the way back and finished at L3. This took 24:30 min but felt like an eternity, 0.9 km swim, 14/58. Slightly chilled afterwards, reminded me of early October.

Emily (Lake Monster 291)

(Aug 2)
Great swim today. The water was warm and pretty flat. We determined it was 69.5 by taking a small poll of “what does it feel like?” Very scientific. The sunrise was less than spectacular in itself, but once it came out if proved to be a beautiful day.

Also, my friend Garth joined us and became a new Lake Monster, so I took his official membership photo.

[Photo credits: Emily]





Garth, Lake Monster 317 (congrats!)


Swim Report – July 13, 2014 – After the Storms

The forecast was sketchy for Sunday morning given the intermittent thunderstorms. But they had all but passed come 5:30am. Nevertheless, Lake Michigan had a BIG surprise in store for us early morning swimmers!

The walk out to L1 from North Avenue was very pleasant given the balmy but not too humid 75F air temperature. And as I came out of the pedestrian tunnel on the other side of the chess pavilion, I could tell that we were in for quite a spectacular sunrise at the world’s greatest swim site.

While waiting for Mr. Sol to make his appearance, I took the water temperature reading. Much to my astonishment, it came in at 57.8F (surface). I took several additional readings while other people showed up, and the lake still held firm just above 57F.

Bottom line, the strong winds from the previous night’s thunderstorms had mixed up the colder thermocline layer and brought the frigid waters closer to the surface!

After catching Nature’s show, we all got in the frigid lake. Our single saving grace was that the water was perfectly calm which allowed for flat and fast swimming – which was great since none of us wanted to spend any more time in the lake than necessary!

I did the out-and-back to Oak Street Beach sans wetsuit, but I did cheat a bit with a neoprene cap. There was also no stopping at the halfway point as I did not want to lapse into “afterdrop” mode until I was back at L1.

The return leg of the swim was by far the most challenging given that even more colder water was moving in towards the shoreline. In fact, we all found ourselves swimming through intermittent bands of frigid water that were likely 6F – 8F less than the already cold surface temperature – the worst of which was located just off of L1!

In the end, though, we all made it through unscathed. Plus we experienced the added benefit of now being completely wide awake and alert thanks to the cold shock of the lake.

Aren’t you envious that you missed out on all this?

Changing colors






Lake Monsters





Katie, Lake Monster 315


DiDi, Lake Monster 316


Pre-sunrise video

OWC Mindshare 4: Effective Open Water Sighting Techniques

There’s a lot more to sighting than just picking a target and looking for it during the swim.  But unfortunately, that’s usually all the advice you’ll ever get from most coaches whenever the subject comes up.   The reality, though, is that poor and inefficient sighting techniques can deplete your energy during the swim and adversely impact your overall event performance.

In this session, we are going to discuss “reality-based” sighting.  Specifically, we will review how to efficiently and effectively stay on course and keep your bearings within all types of open water conditions – including situations where you literally cannot see the swim finish area.  We will discuss pre-swim sighting strategies as well as how to manage the limitations of your visual field while in the open water.  We will also detail and demonstrate a powerful and practical “sight stroke” technique that OWC developed based on the principal of “economy of movement.”  Below are the details – don’t miss out!

OWC Mindshare 4: Effective Open Water Sighting Techniques

- Date: Sunday July 13, 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!).

- 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 – 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]