Swim Report – May 13, 2017 – Back on track!

After an unexpected dip in the lake temperature last week, we lucked out with an in-swim temp of 54.0F yesterday morning. And if that wasn’t great enough, we also had phenomenal swimming conditions!

As we get closer to the summer solstice, the sunrise times are getting earlier and earlier. So it can be quite challenging to muster enough motivation to leave the comfort of one’s warm bed in exchange for a 5:30am cold shock immersion. Nevertheless, we persisted…

I fortunately arrived early, so I was able to get my mandatory blonde roast at the Cool Starbucks on Clark Street (versus at the pretentious one on Wells). So by the time I finished the walk down to L1, I was properly caffeinated and in a much better pre-swim state of mind!

The lake was smooth as glass, and the surface temperature came in at 54.6F. So I chose to go in with just my jammers, thermo cap, and a healthy layer of shea butter. Since we had a calm, windless morning with plenty of sunshine, I wasn’t worried about the lake temp at all. And while it was a bit crisper than I had anticipated, I got used to it right away.

Because there were no waves or chops, it was ridiculously easy to maintain a smooth and regular swim rhythm. I used this rare opportunity to work on my bilateral breathing and to monitor and correct my woefully inconsistent swim form. But I also spent a fair amount of time just enjoying the luxury of a calm lake!

I ended up doing a 1/2 mile swim, but it was a point-to-point one this time. I decided to keep on going at the 1/4 mile mark and continue on to Oak Street Beach, making my first beach landing of 2017 (yay!).

The walk back to L1 was quite tolerable since it was still sunny with an air temperature of 56F and climbing. I did a few sets of sprints along the way to stave off the afterdrop which tried desperately to break through several times. But with the warmer days and higher lake temperatures, I think we can finally say good riddance to our old post-swim nemesis for a while.

And I’m perfectly fine with that!

Daybreak

Sunrise

Lake Monsters pre-swim

Skyline action shot

Beach landing!

On the walk back

Swim finish!

Lola makes an appearance

Swim Report – May 6, 2017 – Pushback

Five of us met out at L1 at 5:40am, just in time to catch yet another amazing Spring sunrise. The lake was a bit more calm than last week, but it had decided to misbehave in other ways…

I put in the surface thermometer, totally expecting to see the lake in the 53F+ range. However, much to my dismay, the reading came back at a stinging 49.5F (ulp!).

After our usually ritualistic procrastination, we suited up and trotted out to good ole’ L1. I was sporting just my jammers and a thermo cap over my silicone one. The lake was a tad bit more bracing than I had anticipated, but the bite wore off after a couple of minutes.

I did my usual out and back to the 1/4 mile mark – or about 1/2 mile total. However, the way back was far more difficult as the swells had intensified in just a short time period.

Post-swim was a regression to earlier times where I had to contend with a lengthier than usual afterdrop. But even with this unexpected change in the lake, it was still a fantastic morning with yet another adventure to start off the weekend!

Sunrise sequence

Swim finish

Jennifer, Lake Monster 436, braving the sub-50F lake (congrats!)

Swim Report – April 28/29, 2017 – Half Century Edition

I ushered in my fifth decade with two days of swimming, and they couldn’t have been any more different from each other!

Friday morning up at Lighthouse Beach was a real gem. The forecasted gloomy weather had not yet arrived, so there was plenty of sunshine along with calm, clear water. The air temperature was 56F, and the water temperature reading was a crisp but invigorating 52.5F – practically ideal swimming conditions!

I had re-injured my right shoulder earlier in the week after lifting some stuff incorrectly, so I just did some easy swim strokes on the surface and underwater. However, soaking in all that colder water really helped speed my recovery – which would prove to be quite valuable the next morning!

Unlike Friday’s serene setting, Saturday’s lake was a high energy adventure. We had 4 to 6 foot swells, 20mph+ wind gusts, overcast skies, and a much cooler air temperature of 44F. Fortunately for the few of us who made it out, the lake came in at an estimated 53.0F (it was likely warmer than that – I could not get a reading on my thermometer as the batteries ran out!).

Because of the more challenging swim conditions, I wore my neoprene short sleeve top so I would have a bit more thermo protection. I probably could have gone without it as I was completely comfortably the entire time I was in the water.

I got out to the 1/4 mile point before turning back. The swim back to L1 was a LOT more difficult for all of us as the swells had picked up a bit and we had to make the return journey into the waves. But we all made it back unscathed with yet another adventure under our belts!

Once we changed back into our civilian clothes and shook off our afterdrops, we headed out to Elly’s 24 for breakfast. It was a fantastic time, and a wonderful way to cap off a great morning!

Many thanks to everyone who came out – I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday meetup!

Scenes from Friday

A different lake on Saturday!

Saturday’s video compilation

Swim Report – April 22, 2017 – Homecoming

The 50F+ lake temp brought out some Lake Monsters that we haven’t seen since the fall. And we all sure had a vigorous swim in the choppy lake!

These earlier mornings can be deceiving. You time it so you can get out to the swim site by sunrise, but you find yourself stepping on the gas as soon as you see the pre-sunrise colors blooming over the eastern horizon. Such was the case on Lake Shore Drive at about 5:45am!

After I parked my car, I grabbed my gear and jogged out to L1 so as not to miss any more of the show. The lakefront was somewhat of a mess with some heavy chops and a sustained 10mph wind from the east. But the lake came in at a fiery 52.7F, so we all geared up and got in right away.

For the first time this year, I went with just my jammers and neoprene cap – no gloves, booties, hood, or dive shirt. It was a bit bracing at first, but I fortunately had a very thick layer of shea butter on that really helped stave off the cold.

I swam out to the 1/4 mile mark and back, but it sure felt more like an entire mile swim given the strong chops. Plus the swells had intensified on the way back making things much more challenging on the swim north!

Still, despite all these trials, it was a great day to be out at the beach!

Sunrise sequence

Swim start

The Spring crew post-swim

Swim Report – April 8, 2017 – Great Awakening

A short swim report as this is our first really awesome weekend and I want to spend as much time outside as possible…

In sum, the lake came in at a rather tepid 43.7F which means we are likely at the early stages of the Spring turnover. Given the lakefront advisories this week due to high waves, we weren’t sure what to expect. But the weather gods smiled on us and gave us near perfect swimming conditions!

Sunrise sequence

Spectators

At the halfway point

Today’s video compilation

(Real) Swim Report – April 1, 2017 – Happy April!

After a tempestuous beginning, Spring 2017 calmed down a bit on Saturday and finally gave us a great morning!

Although the air was still a tad nippy at 38F, the lake came in at a wondrous 41.9F. Plus we had plenty of very intense sunshine that not only helped stave off the chill during the swim but also greatly diminished the dreaded afterdrop.

As with last week, I went with my truncated gear setup. But this time I was able to get in a full 1/2 mile despite some slight but annoying swells.

Bottom line, whether you swam in the lake or just got out to the lakefront, it was a perfect way to start off a new month!

Daybreak

Skyline

The April crew

Sunrise!

Another one of the mallard

(Non) Swim Report – April 1, 2017 – Danger Zone

A very short swim report as there is not much to tell. Despite the rumors of a nice morning, L1 was an unholy mess. And by unholy, I mean more than just some nasty waves!

Suffice to say, we’re going to have to start changing the way we think about swimming where we do…

“Sunrise”

An unexpected visitor

Swim Report – March 25, 2017 – Spring Swells

The transition to Spring is never a pretty process. Once the days lengthen beyond 12 hours and the lake temperature shatters the 40F ceiling, newly awakened forces unceremoniously dethrone Old Man Winter. But being the cranky sort, he tends to throw a juvenile tantrum in the week or so following the vernal equinox…

While I was hoping for the 70F air temperature we had on Friday, I readily accepted the 42F weather that Ma Nature gave us on Saturday morning. And imagine my utter glee when the lake temperature came in almost exactly the same at 41.4F!

Because there was a sustained 10mph east wind, intermittent drizzle, and some rather vigorous swells, I went with the short sleeve neoprene top, shorts, gloves, boots, and hood – my pared down winter gear setup. I also had a healthy layer of shea butter underneath these items as well as on the exposed areas of my arms, legs, neck, and face. As such, I was able to tolerate the water conditions very well – not to mention that I had extremely supple skin afterwards…

I got in about 1/3 of a mile overall. I was planning on going a bit further to get in 1/2 mile, but the swells had intensified while I was in the water. And since I was swimming closer to the wall, I did not want to risk getting pushed too close to the side.

After I got out, I quickly changed back into my dry clothes. Even though I had to endure that pesky breeze during this process, it was nowhere near as uncomfortable as it has been during these past few months.

But the best part was that the dreaded afterdrop was greatly diminished – i.e. I wasn’t in a frozen zombie-like trance during the walk from L1 to my car. And that alone tells me that Winter is gone for good!

Foggy skyline

Dreary swim site

At the 1/8 mile “swimmers shrine”

Heading home

Almost there!

In-swim video

Swim Report – March 12, 2017 – March Freeze

The best thing about these late winter swims is when you first notice that the water on your exposed skin is no longer painful – only somewhat uncomfortable. This is a sure sign that Spring is within striking distance…

Two of us met out at L1 at 7:00am where the air temperature was a biting 24F. The L1 area was crisscrossed with fishing lines from some coho salmon fishermen, so we relocated down to L5 where we weren’t in any danger of running into any stray hooks.

The official lake temp came in at 39F – much higher than I was expecting. And since we had lots of sunshine and a relatively calm lake, I decided to go with my thermo rashguard, shorts, and short sleeve top versus a fullsuit.

I stayed close to the wall for the entirety of the swim and did about 1/3 in total. I was quite comfortable in the water, and my hands and feet actually warmed up once no longer subjected to the frigid air temperature.

Post-swim was the usual mad scramble to get out of the wet swim gear and into dry clothes. And because the air temperature was so much colder, I ended up with a much more vigorous afterdrop that started on the way back to my car and only ended when I finally got my omelette at Elly’s.

Hope to see you all out there real soon!

L1 at dawn

Reeling one in!

A frozen L5

Sunrise

Our own private ice skating ribbon

Sunrise video

Swim Report – February 18, 2017 – Early Spring?

I parked by Clark Street and was instantly facing a dilemma. On one hand, I needed my coffee after a restless night of sleep. On the other hand, I could see some amazing pre-sunrise colors already appearing on the eastern horizon.

Coffee won out, so I really had to hustle to get out to L1 to in time for the sunrise!

I knew it was going be a great one as I could see several people out there already with very large and sophisticated cameras. This group has a second sense about predicting the better mornings. Fortunately, I got to the lake front just in time for the grand entrance!

I took several shots before the sun disappeared behind a cloud bank. While it was temporarily obscured, we started getting our gear together to get into the 36.4F lake. We lucked out in that we had a very calm lake with just slight wind gusts. Plus, once the super bright sun reappeared a few minutes later, we had ideal swim conditions.

As far as gear, I went with my gloves, boots, hood, and neoprene shorts, and neoprene short sleeve top. I also added a short sleeve thermo shirt underneath it all so I could swim a bit more comfortably. This turned out to be the perfect set up as I was able to get in a 1/2 mile without any real discomfort.

Post-swim was somewhat of a challenge. While the 54F air temperature and abundant sunshine really took the edge off of the afterdrop, it was still a bit more lengthy than I expected. This was due to me spending so much more time in the water compared with previous weeks.

But, of course, I’m not complaining at all about any of this!

Sunrise sequence

L1 visitors

Plane, moon, skyscraper shot

Pre-swim puppies

The sun reappears!

Lake Monsters in their element