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!
Even though we are almost in May, it sure felt like one of our November mornings!
There’s no other way to call it – L1 was a hot (cold?) mess earlier this morning. The official stats came in at a 49F lake temp, a 45F air temp, 15mph sustained winds, and 4-6 foot swells with heavy chops. Lots ‘o fun!
Marton, Fred, Jason, and I met out by the swim site and sized up the situation. I opted to go with neoprene on my head, hands, and feet to accompany my swim jammers. Although the lake temp was slightly higher than last week (and actually quite tolerable), these lake conditions require much more energy output while in-swim. So I wanted a little more insulation against the elements as you tend to lose a lot of heat when you’re getting buffeted on all sides by unpredictable swells and chops.
As with last week, I jogged down to Oak Street Beach and entered the lake from there. That was arguably the most difficult part of the swim since the waves were crashing quite wickedly at the beach. I made sure not to get in too close to “Hell’s Corner,” but I still took a pounding during those first 100 meters.
The swim back to L1 was a full body workout with absolutely no possibility of maintaining anything resembling a normal swim rhythm. I ran into Marton and Fred mid-swim at the 1/8 mile point, and they turned around and swam back with me. Those two actually got in almost a full mile since they started out their swim at L1. As for me, a half-mile was more than enough!
Despite a forecast calling for high winds, the swim site was perfectly calm at 6:00am. Marton, Mary Ellen, Jared, and Fred were there along with new Lake Monsters Mikala, Danae, and Louise.
The sunrise, as always, was magnificent, and the lake temperature (surface) came in at an amazing 51F. After gearing up (and procrastinating a bit), we all made our way into the lake.
The in-swim lake temperature came in at a constant 48.8F. But the real treat was the color and clarity of the water. Lake Michigan is in the midst of the Spring turnover right now, so we have all the fresher and cleaner water coming up from the depths to mix with the surface water. All in all, it makes for a very pleasant swim!
I ended up doing the half-mile point to point from Oak Street Beach to L1 again, and I was completely comfortable in just a swimsuit and neoprene cap. The key factor, as always, was the ample sunshine that really helped stave off the cold and chase away the afterdrop.
As I have said time and time again, if you slept in this morning you really missed out!
City at dawn
Lake Monsters gathering
At the beach
Mikala, Lake Monster 341 (congrats!)
Danae, Lake Monster 342 (congrats!)
Louise, Lake Monster 343 (hailing all the way from Australia!)
L1 from a different perspective
Today’s video compilation (sorry about the blurry parts)
I met up at L1 with Marton, Fred, and Jason at 6:15am – just in time for yet another brilliant sunrise. The air temperature was a bit crisp at 41F, but the lack of wind and abundant sunshine helped ameliorate the chill. The lake, however, came in at a blazing 45F!
I again chose to do a quick jog to Oak Street Beach and swim back. I still wore my neoprene hood and gloves, but I was quite comfortable without a wetsuit during the entire swim. Because there are more people out on the lakefront path this time of year, we had to field questions from various incredulous spectators.
Truth be told, we really like to see their reaction when we tell them that we’ve been coming out to the lake all winter!