Our last meetup of summer 2016 turned out to be one of our best swims thanks to near perfect conditions out at L1!
While it was still a bit overcast at 6:30am, the lake was perfectly flat with aquarium clear conditions – so much so that you could see the ripples in the sand two meters below the surface. We typically don’t get this level of clarity in September, but we had an insidious thermocline moving in to the shoreline. So in exchange for near perfect visibility underwater, we had to put up with a slight chill at various points during the swim.
The surface temperature came in at 66.7F, but the final in-swim reading was 65.0F. There were some pockets of warmth on the way south to Oak Street Beach, but you could really sense the cooler water moving in on the way back!
Unlike prior outings over the last few months, I was actually able to do the entire out-and-back mile this time without any shoulder issues. So a big shout out to Simone and crew over at Athletico for putting up with all my bad jokes for the last 8 weeks!
And as always, if you slept in on Saturday morning, you sure missed out (again!)
Five of us met out at L1 on Saturday morning at the tail end of a thunderstorm. There was some lightning on the eastern horizon, so we had to wait a half hour before getting into the water. But we were pleasantly surprised when we did!
The official temperature came at a uniform 66.5F – a significant improvement over earlier in the week. This warmer water made the swells and chops much more tolerable!
I got in just over a 1/4 mile swim before bailing out to walk back. I couldn’t get any sort of rhythm in the chops, and they kept randomly torquing my right arm around – not the best thing for my still ailing shoulder. But given the tumultuous swim conditions, I still got in more than enough of a workout!
A rainy and choppy swim site
Dominic, Lake Monster 421, in town all the way from Australia!
Jenny, Lake Monster 422
Living Colour at the Skokie Backlot Bash later that night (not related to swimming, but you still should have been there anyway!)
The Air and Water show weekend is always a gamble when it comes to swimming. L1 is usually too congested, and the city sometimes shuts down the area altogether. But everything was A OK at 5:30am!
Given the overcast skies and later sunrise time, it was rather dark at 5:30am. So we waited for about 15 minutes before getting into the choppy water. Fortunately, the lake gave us a comfortable 72.5F temperature. So as soon as it lightened up more around the swim area, we all suited up and got in!
I did a point-to-point 1/2 mile to Oak Street Beach, alternating free stroke with breast stroke to spare my shoulder. And I was surprised that I was able to keep a fairly good pace! So either my breast stroke is really fast (doubtful) or my free stroke is just really slow (the more likely scenario).
A couple of others were already waiting at Oak Street Beach when I arrived. By then the sun was just beginning to peek out from the horizon right next to the water crib. A few more swimmers landed at the beach, and we all hung around a bit watching the real “air show” before heading back to L1.
Although I was feeling pretty energetic, I chose not to swim back. So I did a quick jog back and caught the tail end of the sunrise at L1.
When all the swimmers made it back, the clouds started to move in and the wind picked up. And sure enough, we had some vigorous thunderstorms move in about an hour and a half later. But by then I was safely back at my house!
So once again, it looks like we got in a swim at the best part of the day!
The dog days of summer always seem to bring out larger crowds – including Lake Monsters who we haven’t seen in a while. And this was most certainly the case on Saturday!
The heat wave from earlier in the week brought the lake temperature up to 74.5F. While this was quite comfortable to swim in, it also came with a trade off – namely higher algae levels. In fact, I am sure that this is what has been causing my post-swim congestion symptoms over the past month or so. Personally, I’d rather have colder water and no allergens – so give me a 55F lake any time over what we get this time of year!
For this swim, I decided to do a 1/2 mile breaststroke to the beach in order to spare my shoulder the stress of an overhead freestyle stroke. This seemed to work out very well, although I was surprised at how much more I used my legs with this stroke (something they reminded me of several hours later)!
We had some 1-3 foot swells that seemed to intensify closer to the beach – especially at “Hell’s Corner.” So the lake was a bit more of a challenge than the mirror flat conditions we had mid-week. But we sure had a great morning out at the old swim site!
Lake Monster gathering
At the beach!
Pat, Lake Monster 420 (with returning veteran Heidi, LM 201)
A steady wind from the northeast gave us 3 – 5 foot swells and rather spirited chops, making the swim quite a test to both new and seasoned swimmers. However, the lake came in at a fiery 72F, so the only real challenge was navigating the “washing machine.”
In total, I managed to eek out about 1/4 mile in the chaotic lake. But the balmy water temperatures made it a very pleasant swim nonetheless!
Saturday morning was a real scorcher, with the air temperature already coming in at a sultry 80F at 4:30am. But that didn’t keep people from making it out to world famous L1!
I had set the meetup time for 5:30am, but sunrise didn’t officially happen until about seven minutes later – and boy was it a magnificent one! So that gave the large and growing crowd of morning swimmers a pleasant distraction along with plenty of time to socialize before getting into the lake.
The surface temperature came in at 68F, but we had some mild thermocline pockets lingering around the shoreline that brought the average in-swim temperature to around 67F (these intensified as the morning progressed, and there were some rather crisp swim conditions by the time I finished my swim clinic a few hours later!).
The swim conditions were ideal – almost perfectly calm with great visibility due to the colder bottom layers. I managed to make it 1/2 mile to the beach before heading back to L1 on foot. By that time, several of the others were just finishing up and re-congregating at our idyllic swim spot.
I spent the next several minutes taking pictures of all the new Lake Monsters and officially incorporating them into the “tribe.” And all our revelry did not go unnoticed. A WGN film crew happened to be out at the lakefront, and they graciously did a quick video spot on us!
After a slight dip in the water temperature earlier in the week, the lake came in at an almost perfect 68F on Saturday morning. And the later swim start time of 5:30am brought more new faces out to L1!
Now that the days are getting shorter, I no longer have to settle for bad coffee since the cool Starbucks on Clark Street is open at 5:00am. When I mentioned this to the workers, they told me that the other Starbucks on Wells was open 24 hours. But we Tauruses are loyal, so I shan’t be switching horses in mid stream any time soon!
I was surprised at the higher turnout at L1. We had a few new swimmers along with some veteran Lake Monsters who have not been out for a while. My guess is that the good weather sparked this uptick in attendance as the 72F air temperature and light humidity made it a perfect morning to be outside – whether one was swimming or not!
As with last week, I started out planning on only doing 1/8 mile or so. But the lake conditions were close to ideal, so I ended up doing about 1/2 mile total. And as the morning went on, several other swimmers began congregating at the lakefront around L1.
Perhaps the word is finally out that we have the best swim spot on the planet?
With sunrise taking place at 5:30am these days, we finally got a chance to sleep in a bit now that the days are getting shorter. Fortunately, the water is also getting warmer!
Despite the caterwauling and pearl clutching of all those who insisted that the Saturday morning lakefront was guaranteed to have hurricane-like conditions, the water was actually quite calm. Instead of the forecasted 25mph+ wind gusts, we had a slight breeze from the north that gave us mere 2 to 3 foot swells – hardly anything challenging. And given that the lake temperature came in at a remarkable 70F, I doubt we could have asked for a better outcome!
Given the still nagging issue with my right shoulder, I decided to just do a leisurely swim fairly close to L1. Of course, habit drove me out towards the 1/8 mile point before I turned back and got out of the water. Still feeling restless, I decided to snatch my rescue can and swim out to one of the buoys – also 1/8 mile distance.
So all told, I got in close to a 1/2 mile swim unintentionally – although it was not all at once!
The unseasonably hot weather caused the lake temperatures to spike this weekend. Not that we were complaining…
Despite the super early sunrise, we had quite a festive crowd out at L1 at 5:15am. And when I took the lake temperature reading, the mercury came in at a sizzling 67F – much higher than normal for this time of year!
Given the balmy water and calm conditions, the whole crew got in the lake right away and started heading south to Oak Street Beach. I only planned on doing a half mile, but I really didn’t want to turn around at the 1/4 point. So I opted to do a beach landing and combine that with a leisurely 1/2 mile walk back to L1.
As you can see, the weather and water conditions were almost a carbon copy of last week. So if you slept in on Saturday, you really missed out (again)!
The sunrise scene
Swimmer action shots
Sian, Lake Monster 405, hailing all the way from the UK (congrats!)
Saturday turned out to be a real scorcher with the air temp reaching 94F by late afternoon. Fortunately for us, we got in a swim in near perfect conditions while it was still marginally tolerable outside!
In the final weeks leading up to the Summer solstice, the days are still getting longer but by smaller and smaller increments. So instead of sunrise occurring 10 minutes earlier each week, we’re seeing only a minute or two difference from the prior week. Bottom line – 5:15am seems to be as low as it goes in this part of the northern hemisphere!
The unseasonably hot weather brought out many more people to the lakefront at dawn besides OWC swimmers. As the weather improves, were seeing more and more dog walkers, insomniacs, and late night club-goers all out in the wee hours of the summer mornings checking out the sunrise. It’s a shame they’ve chosen to miss out on all the other great mornings!
As far as swimming, Saturday was THE morning to get out to the lake! The surface temperature reading came in at 61.4F. However, I strongly suspected to find much nippier readings below the surface as the lake was aquarium clear – which is a good sign that there are chilly thermoclines lurking underneath. And indeed, this proved to be the case!
But even with the bracing lower layers, the conditions couldn’t have been more optimal. We had a magnificent sunrise which the images below cannot possibly capture adequately, and we had clear skies along with completely calm swimming conditions. Not only was this a real treat for all the Lake Monsters, but it was also the perfect scenario for our first OWC swim clinic of 2016.
On that note, a big congrats to all those who participated in the OWC clinic. How does it feel to now have an unfair advantage over all the other swimmers and triathletes? 😉