Swim Report – June 13, 2021 – Inferno Edition

When we are this close to the Summer solstice with the sun rising at 5:14am, I normally rely on a much more crisp June lake to wake me up after a night of compromised sleep. But also, it was not meant to be yesterday morning!

I got out to L1 just past 5:00am, and the lake was choppy with some smaller but increasing swells. So I wasn’t able to get an initial surface temperature reading. But a quick “hand and foot” test told me that something was drastically different as the water didn’t seem anywhere near as bracing as it was the last week. I figured that this was just the surface – i.e. there would almost certainly be a nice, biting thermocline to contend with once I get in the lake. But given that the lake was very agitated, I doubted that this would be the case. So I threw caution to the wind and went in with just my jammers and goggles (i.e. no cap).

My assumptions were correct – the lake temperature came in at just above 74F all throughout the swim. I even took several dives down to the bottom to check if there were any variances. But the thermometer read 74F at every level!

I ended up doing a 1/2 mile like last week, but this time involved a large loop with a turnaround at the 1/4 mile point. Truth be told, I preferred to just stay in the lake and play around in the big “pool area” between the shoreline and the buoys 1/4 mile out. And even though the swells had picked up, they weren’t really bothersome since the lake was so warm!

So I hope you wall were able to get out on Sunday and sample a very rare event. I can tell you from experience that this is unseasonably high, and the Chicago lakefront is sure to regress to the mean any day now. And to be honest, I’ll be just as happy when it does!

L1 at 5:00am
Sunrise shots!
Adrian, Lake Monster 529 (congrats!)

Swim Report – June 6, 2021 – 5:00am Bliss

After a rather blustery week, the late Spring heat finally came in during the weekend giving the lake a much needed boost back to its normal temperature levels. And everything seemed to come together Sunday morning to create one of the most spectacular swims I’ve had in a while!

Since we are closing in on the Summer solstice, sunrise is at the nadir time of around 5:15am. However, you have to get out there earlier to check out the pre-sunrise colors to the east and on the lake. So I was on the road at 4:30am, way sleep deprived but anxious to get out to the lakefront.

The conditions at L1 were nothing short of idyllic. The lake was calm and flat, and the surface temperature came in at 60F lake temp. I waited for the sunrise to crest, and I ended up delaying my swim entry a bit longer as the view to the east was simply out of this world. As I’ve stated before, the pictures below do not adequately capture the “live” version of nature’s show!

I went in with just my jammers, cap, and goggles, and eased into the tranquil lake. It was a bit chillier below one meter as the colder thermocline layer was still hanging around the shoreline. But it sure made the entire swim area crystal clear and an absolute joy to swim in!

Because the lake was so calm, I got in a very solid swim rhythm and made it to the 1/8 mile point very quickly. Since I really hadn’t expended much energy, I decided that this would be the day that I would finally make an official return to Oak Street Beach. So I kept up leisurely my stride and landed on dry sand about 15 minutes later.

The 1/2 mile walk back was my victory lap, although I had to contend with a slight afterdrop for about half the way. But it was well worth it, and well worth getting up so early!

5:00am skyline
Sunrise sequence!

Swim Report – May 23, 2021 – The Pool is Open!

Another perfect morning for a swim! I posted a sunrise shot on the OWC Facebook page that showed what it was like out at 5:25am, but it was even more impressive in person. The lake came in at a crisp 55.6F, but the mercury read 53.2F a few feet below the surface. This was because the lower thermocline layer had moved in giving us the colder (and crystal clear) water from below.

As with last week, I did my usual 1/4 mile in just my cap and jammers, and it was phenomenal. So I expect to see more of you out at L1 now that things are heating up!

Sunrise sequence
Perfect conditions at the pool!
Lake Monsters were here!

Swim Report – May 16, 2021 – Calm Seas

Three of us made it out to L1 at 5:30am to get in an early morning sunrise swim. The lake was mostly calm and came in at a surprisingly tepid 56F. Since this was almost at parity with the 55F air temperature, I didn’t have any issues with my goggles fogging up during my 1/4 mile swim. Keeping this update brief as it’s already two weeks late!

Blue dawn
Lake Monsters pre-swim
Back at L1!

Swim Report – May 2, 2021 – Spring Turnover Edition

Another tardy report, but here goes – we had a 53.4F lake temp and a 64F air temp at 5:35am. The lake conditions were ideal, perfectly calm and very clear due to the lower thermocline layers starting to mix with the winter layer that has been in place since early November. In my opinion, these are some of the best times to get in the lake as you occasionally get water so clear that it looks like a Caribbean reef. Plus the sunsets are amazing this time of year as you can see below.

Dawn skyline with bonus crescent moon
The view to the east

Swim Report – April 18, 2021 – 50F+ Zone!

The air temp came in at a crisp 42F, but the official in-swim lake temp measured a balmy 50.4F at 6:00am. Plus, as you can see, the lake conditions were ideal. So I got in a quick 1/4 mile in just a shortie and cap and didn’t have anywhere near the level of discomfort on my hands and feet than the prior week. As an added bonus, we had a magnificent sunrise which looked even more amazing in person!

L1 at daybreak
Sunrise sequence
New OWC mascot?

Swim Report – April 11, 2021 – Early Spring Edition

Three of us met out at L1 at 6:15am to get in a sunrise swim. We set up camp at the Chess Pavilion as the mist was becoming a drizzle, and we didn’t want to contend with wet towels and clothes afterwards. The lake temp came in at 45F lake – same as the air temp. It was overcast and foggy, but the sun started to peek though the clouds mid-swim.

I went with just my neoprene shortie and cap this time, and banged out my 1/4 mile without any difficulties. It stung a bit on my hands and feet for the first few minutes, but I acclimated pretty quickly.

Looking forward to the longer (and warmer) days!

Skyline at dawn
The view to the east
Lake Monsters post swim

Swim Report – March 21, 2021 – Happy Spring!

One of the most noticeable things about passing the vernal equinox is that the sunrises become much earlier rather abruptly. This continues through May and then it slows down a bit before the summer solstice. But after this last winter, I’m certainly not complaining about the longer, sunnier days!

I arrived at L1 just before 6:30am, and we already had some pre-dawn colors painting the horizon. I chatted with a number of early morning joggers and sun worshipers and snapped a few shots as the sunrise progressed. Once it was out in its full glory, I suited up and climbed into the 41.2F lake.

Because it was a clear day with very little wind, the lake didn’t have the sting it normally does at these temperatures. So I was able to get acclimated pretty much within the first minute with no real discomfort in-swim. I swam parallel to the wall to the “swimmers shrine” – the cross shaped orange marker 1/8 mile south of L1 – before turning back. The lake was a bit choppy, but we didn’t have the southbound current from the prior week. So overall it was a pretty relaxing first Spring swim of the year!

The sun peeks through
Good morning!
Choppy swim area

Swim Report – March 14, 2021 – 40F+

Quick report as I’m a bit behind (again). I made it out to L1 to get in one last winter swim, and I was blessed with a lake that finally broke through the 40F ceiling. The official in-swim water temperature came in at 42.4F – finally out of the “basement!” I got in my usual 1/4 mile with a shortie and neoprene items on my extremities, and I didn’t have any discomfort that usually accompanies any swim in the 30Fs. Looking forward to Spring!

Dawn colors
Skyline shot
The sun peeks through
Swimmers were here!

Swim Report – March 7, 2021 – Hints of Spring

Three of us met out at L1 for a late winter swim, and we were blessed with abundant sunshine that took the edge off of a 37.8F lake. But even though we are still in the sub-40F “basement,” it’s only a matter of time that we punch through to the other side of 40F for good!

As with last week, I went with a neoprene shortie along with my hood, gloves, and booties. The water stung my exposed legs and forearms on entry with the dull aching lasting for a few minutes. But this was much less intense than last Sunday where I had some significant pain for the first third of my swim. So even though we’re talking about only a 1.8F increased in the lake, that actually makes a huge difference in overall comfort in swim!

I did my usually 1/4 mile, going out to the 1/8 mile “swimmers shrine” before turning back. It was a fairly textbook swim, but the chops made it a bit difficult to perfect any sort of swim rhythm while in the water. But it was great to get back in the lake again, and very soon we won’t have to contend with “30-something” water temps – at least not until late 2021!

Skyline with bonus crescent moon
Ice Monsters post swim
Quick shot before leaving!