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
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
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!
Everybody in the lake!
At the beach
Swimmers heading north
Sara, Lake Monster 319
Jose, Lake Monster 320
Ketty, Lake Monster 321
Today’s video compilation:
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
Seaweed ball at Oak Street Beach
Sam, Lake Monster 318 (congrats!)
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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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!)
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?
Katie, Lake Monster 315
DiDi, Lake Monster 316
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
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
Chas’ sister, whose name I totally forgot, Lake Monster 313 (<-- please send me the details - sorry about that!!!)
About 15 swimmers showed up for our last swim of Spring and first swim of Summer. And with the official solstice taking place at 5:51am, we were able to combine both into one single workout!
The lake temp came in at a balmy 64F which helped make up for the damp and foggy 58F air temperature and a complete lack of sunshine. Undeterred by the poor visibility and increasingly choppy water, we all got in the gray-green water.
The fog was very heavy, and the beach only came into view during the last 1/8 mile. So sighting was pretty much an exercise in futility, and the only real way to gauge one’s progress and whereabouts was to use the east wall as a guide.
Nevertheless, we all braved the cold and spooky lake and started off the summer with plenty of bragging leverage over the countless legions of “fair weather” swimmers (you know who you are)!
P.S. Congrats to all the new Lake Monsters (or should I say “Fog Monsters”?)!
P.P.S. Yet another great turnout for our second OWC Mindshare clinic!
Swimmers in the mist
Into the drink
Jason at the beach (just at the start of summer!)
Paul, Lake Monster 305
Jeannie, Lake Monster 306
Sarah, Lake Monster 307
Allison, Lake Monster 308
Patti, Lake Monster 309
Chris, Lake Monster 301
First video footage of the Summer!
After a chaotic week where the air temperatures dipped into the low 50F’s, we lucked on out Saturday morning with a nice, sunny day – and a relatively warm lake.
The official water temperature measured just under 62F at 5:15am, but the lake conditions were about as ideal as you could get. So after the usual socializing/procrastinating phase, we all slipped into the lake rather quickly.
Given the flat and calm water, the swim south to the beach was quick and efficient. We had a steady north wind to contend with on the way back which gave us a slight current. But we still made pretty good time on the return to L1.
What made the morning especially significant, though, was the presence of several new Lake Monsters – including Lake Monster #300! As a celebration of this milestone, we gave out a new pair of Barracuda Triton goggles.
[NOTE: For those of you interested in ordering Barracuda swim products at a special discount, be sure to check out openwaterchicago.com/deals]
‘Nuff said. Here are the pics and video:
Pool party at 5:15am
Sunrise at water level
Renee, Lake Monster 299
Geneva, Lake Monster 300 [yay, we hit the 300 mark!]
Amanda, Lake Monster 301
Greg, Lake Monster 302
Tony, Lake Monster 303
An artistic shot of Rick, Lake Monster 304 (Photo: Josh Jones)
According to the Chicago Tribune, 63F is “dangerously cold” water. However, Lake Monsters seem to thrive in these conditions…
As we edge closer and closer to the summer solstice, the sunrises (and swim times) grow ever earlier. And yet we have been getting more and more people showing up in the wee hours of the morning to partake in our weekly ritual of awesomeness. So much for logic!
We had about 20 swimmers show up at L1 just before 5:15am on Saturday, and they were all treated to a magnificent show once the sun started to blaze above the eastern horizon. As noted above, the lake came in at a surprisingly warm 63F with perfectly flat and clear swimming conditions. So as soon as the sun was fully out in force, we all got in the lake.
In the absence of any chops or currents, the swim to and from Oak Street Beach was an easy glide through the water. As such, I was able to work on my bilateral breathing – something which proved to be indispensable given the blinding glare of the sunrise whenever I took and eastward-facing breath.
A group of us met briefly at Oak Street Beach before heading back to L1. I was a little chilled during the first 10 minutes after getting out of the water. But I didn’t really have a noticable afterdrop this time. So I can accurately say that Summer has finally arrived at L1 (in more ways than one)!
(P.S. – congrats to all the new Lake Monsters!)
Checking out the sunrise
First brave swimmer!
Michele, Lake Monster 294
Steve, Lake Monster 295
Cady, Lake Monster 296
Jim, Lake Monster 297
Luke, Lake Monster 298
Video at the beach!