Swim Report – July 23, 2016 – WGN Edition

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!

Hope to see you out at the lake soon!

The L1 scene at sunrise

23July2016_2

23July2016_3

23July2016_4

23July2016_13

Melissa, a triumphant Lake Monster 409!

23July2016_5

Sybil, Lake Monster 410

23July2016_6

Sean, Lake Monster 411

23July2016_7

Melissa, Lake Monster 412

23July2016_8

Keith, Lake Monster 413

23July2016_9

Adrian, Lake Monster 414

23July2016_11

WGN filming the Lake Monsters

23July2016_1

Squad 1 at L1

23July2016_12

Swim Report – July 16, 2016 – High Summer

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?

Sunrise

16July2016_5

16July2016_6

The view at water

16July2016_1

Quentin, Lake Monster 407

16July2016_2

Beverly, Lake Monster 408

16July2016_3

Everybody in the pool!

16July2016_4

Swim Report – July 9, 2016 – Over the Hump

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 view east at daybreak

09July2016_1

Everyone in the pool!

09July2016_2

In-swim shots

09July2016_4

09July2016_5

09July2016_6

Back at L1

09July2016_7

Frank, Lake Monster 406 (congrats!)

09July2016_10

Swim Report – June 18, 2016 – Goodbye Spring!

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)!

Dawn colors

18June2016_1

18June2016_2

The sunrise scene

18June2016_4

18June2016_3

18June2016_6

18June2016_7

Swimmer action shots

18June2016_9

18June2016_11

18June2016_10

18June2016_12

Sian, Lake Monster 405, hailing all the way from the UK (congrats!)

18June2016_15

Swim Report – June 11, 2016 – Dog Days of Spring

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? 😉

Daybreak colors

11June2016_1

11June2016_2

Sunrise!

11June2016_3

11June2016_5

11June2016_6

Swim start

11June2016_4

11June2016_7

In swim shots

11June2016_8

11June2016_9

Back home!

11June2016_10

Every loves L1!

11June2016_11

Swim Report – May 28, 2016 – Reach the Beach

I started OWC nine years ago as a very informal get together with just a few other swimmers. But as always in life, One Thing Leads to Another, and we now have over 400 Lake Monsters!

Seven of us made it out to L1 at the ungodly hour of 5:20am. We weren’t expecting much of a sunrise given the heavy storm clouds blotting out the eastern horizon. But sure enough, The Sign of Fire we’re all familiar with made a brief appearance and gave us our sunshine Fixx for the day!

Running a swim group is no easy task when the weather doesn’t cooperate. And the forecast called for possible continuing storms on Saturday morning. But we were Saved by Zero incidence of these tempests – the actual weather completely negating the Opinions of the local meteorologists.

If you have been reading the last several swim reports, you are well aware of – and probably tired of hearing about – the Deeper and Deeper issues I’ve been having with tendinitis in my right shoulder that has been limiting my swim distance. Well, I am happy to report that I finally did Reach the Beach this time around and managed to get in my first full mile swim of 2016!

Changing my swim stroke was pivotal to this accomplishment – as was working on my endurance outside of the lake through run/sprint intervals. Whereas before I slogged through the water like a broken down ocean Liner, this time I was able to power through using more of my core and lower body.

As always, I consider it a Privilege to be able to hold these events Outside at the lakefront. And I’m really enjoying seeing a New Wave of Lake Monsters come out and join us.

Hope to see more of you out here soon!

A newly painted L1 thanks to Diver Dave!

28May2016_1

Happy Lake Monsters

28May2016_2

Finally!

28May2016_3

28May2016_8

Andy, Lake Monster 402

28May2016_4

Katherine, Lake Monster 403

28May2016_5

Peter, Lake Monster 404

28May2016_6

Swim Report – May 21, 2016 – Gettin’ Warmer!

It’s turning out to be a beautiful weekend, so I’m keeping this brief so I can get back outside!

A larger than expected group of swimmers showed up at 5:20am to get in a brisk and choppy Lake Michigan. The official water temperature came in at 54.7F (surface), which was just slightly cooler than the air. We had sparse sunlight thanks to some obstinate clouds out to the east, but the weather was a huge improvement over last week!

We all entered the lake pretty quickly, and the water was fairly clear considering that we had a rather vigorous current from the north. This indicates that the lake has competed its Spring turnover – which means no more sub-50F swim temperatures until Fall!

I went with just my jammers, goggles, and neoprene cap and swam just over 1/2 mile total. My shoulder seemed to be tolerating the exertion much better, so the next meetup will likley feature a beach landing for the author!

All in all, another amazing morning out at L1. And it was really great to see some new faces as well as some veteran Lake Monsters coming back out to L1 now that the weather is better.

Hope to see you all soon!

“Sunrise”

21May2016_2

The 5:20am crew

21May2016_3

In-swim shots

21May2016_1

21May2016_5

21May2016_4

21May2016_6

21May2016_7

Heading back

21May2016_8

John, Lake Monster 401 (congrats!)

21May2016_9

Swim start video

Swim Report – May 14, 2016 – Lake Monster #400!

A 52.6F lake and a blustery 43F air temperature didn’t dissuade us from getting out to L1 for a swim on Saturday morning. In fact, it was much more preferable in the water than it was waiting outside in the wind!

For a short while, it looked like we were going to get some sunshine. But the brisk winds soon brought in a ceiling of slate-gray clouds with no relief in sight looking out to the west. So we geared up in haste and headed out toward the lake.

The water level, as you can see from the pictures, was higher than it has been since I began coming out to L1 over the past 8 years. And when you combined this with the 2 – 4 foot swells, it didn’t give us much of an opportunity to ease into the water. So rather than try to delay the inevitable, we pretty much just climbed down the first rung and plunged in.

Other than a neoprene cap, I went with the standard summer swim gear – jammers and goggles. Like last week, I went a bit past the 1/4 mile point before turning back. I was tempted to go for my first beach landing of the season, but my shoulder didn’t seem to fancy that idea. So I turned around and swam a wide arc back to L1, so about 2/3 mile total.

The afterdrop was quite mild, and it would likely have been less so but for the slicing wind we had to endure both before and after our swim. Still, none of us would have wanted to miss out on yet another Spring adventure!

Grey wall at dawn

14May2016

Spectators

14May2016_1

Getting ready

14May2016_2

14May2016_2b

Swim start!

14May2016_3

14May2016_4

Keeping it in the family!

14May2016_5

Carol, Lake Monster 400 (way to go!)

14May2016_6

Swim Report – May 7, 2016 – Another perfect morning!

A small but determined group of us managed to get in a swim during the brief window of time when the water was calm, the sun was out, and the air temperature was downright balmy!

The forecast called for colder air temperatures at 6:00am due to the expected thunderstorms. However, the weatherman was off by a few hours as we had almost flawless swimming conditions out at L1.

The lake temperature (surface) came in at 50.0F on the button, and the air temperature was a scorching 68F. We waited a few minutes for the sun to come out from behind a cloud bank, and then we suited up and got in a quite tame Lake Michigan!

With the exception of my neoprene cap, I went in with my typical summer setup – just swim jammers and goggles. It was a bit bracing for about a minute, but I quickly acclimated given the ample and intense sunshine.

As my right shoulder was still bothering me a bit, I ended up doing only 2/3 of a mile. But the swim itself was a breeze, and the afterdrop was quite mild – a welcome change from recent swims!

L1 at dawn

7May2016_1

The early morning crew

7May2016_2

Sunrise!

7May2016_3

7May2016_4

7May2016_5

7May2016_7

Swim start

7May2016_6

The author mid-swim

7May2016_8

Finishing up just as the sun leaves!

7May2016_9

In-swim video

Swim Report – April 30, 2016 – Month End Chops

April ended on a rather savage note weather-wise, but we were still able to get in a swim in this morning’s blustery, choppy lake!

Sunrise was officially at 5:47am, so I got to Old Town rather early and managed to secure decent parking. Since I had 20 minutes to spare, I scurried over to The Cool Starbucks and got my lake fuel. I had to hustle back to L1, however, as I could see some magnificent dawn colors out to the east – and I did NOT want to miss out on them!

The pre-dawn colors did not disappoint. However, the actual sunrise was rather anti-climactic with the dull orange orb mostly obscured by the clouds and fizzling out after only about a minute. So on a somewhat muted note, we all geared up and got into the 49F lake.

We had some rather active swells (estimated 2 – 4 feet), but the most vexing part of the swim was the frenetic chops that assaulted us from every direction. All in all, I was only able to get in about 1/4 mile – although it felt like a MUCH longer swim.

Still, we managed to sneak in one final swim for the month of April before the rainstorms moved in!

Orange flood at daybreak

30April2016_4

A rather tepid sunrise

30April2016_3

Choppy swim area

30April2016_2

Fausto, Lake Monster 399 (congrats!)

30April2016_1