Swim Report – October 18, 2014 – Storm Surge Edition

I caught up with Nick on the walk out to L1 from Clark Street, and we knew we were in for a very different kind of swim this morning. A strong and steady wind was already hitting us while we were still 1/4 mile from the lakefront – not a good sign! And when we got to L1, it was a ferocious scene.

The aforementioned wind had created some rather massive swells – anywhere from 6 to 8 feet tall – and they had completely saturated the L1 area all the way to the bike path. We thought last week’s swim was bad, but this one was WAY worse.

Despite the raging lake, the cutting wind, and the total absence of sunshine, we had quite a few people show up. Given the circumstances, however, I strongly encouraged everyone to consider opting out if they had even the slightest of reservations about getting in the water. As it was, only a few of us got in, and most of just just swam around the L1 area where we more than got a workout in the chaotic lake.

The lake temperature came in at a surprisingly comfortable 57F. But given the strong, sustained winds and the lack of any sunshine, I opted to don my neoprene top for the first time this year – and I was glad I did! The extra buoyancy made a big difference in the water, and I didn’t lose much heat at all while in swim.

Also, a funny side story to recount – Jason and I swam out to the 1/8 mile mark and met up with Obed who had found a running shoe in the water. I didn’t think anything of it, although it did look passingly familiar. As it turns out, it was MY shoe that had been washed into the lake by a rogue wave about 15 minutes earlier! But for Obed’s vigilance, I would have had to have walked back to my car barefoot!

Kudos to all who came out on such a yucky morning. We definitely got to see Ma Nature in one of her more tempestuous moods!

Angry lakefront


Step into liquid


The view at water level


Lake Monsters in their element



Retrieving my shoe!


Tenuous approach and exit



Looking back


Haiko, Lake Monster 334


Today’s video footage:

Swim Report – October 11, 2014 – Autumn Chops!

Nine of us made it out to L1 just before sunrise. The lake temperature came in at 58F (surface) with a 56.7F reading taken in swim. In a pleasant contrast to last week, we had a rather tolerable 49F air temperature. But the lake itself was a bit of a mess.

We had some heavy chops and 2-4 foot swells to contend with throughout the swim. But even though we had to do a more rigorous workout this morning, it was well worth the effort given yet another spectacular October sunrise.

Congrats to all the Chicago marathoners!

Dawn colors




Waning moon


Taking the plunge


At the beach


Michael, Lake Monster 333 (congrats!)


Sunrise Video

Swim Report – October 4, 2014 – Deep Freeze!

Ma Nature threw us a curve ball with a 38F air temperature reading at 6:45am. Fortunately for us, the lake temperature came in at a fiery 61.8F. So getting in the water was easy. Getting out, however, was a painfully cold ordeal!

Ten of us met out at L1 just before sunrise. We waited a bit for the sun to peek out over the cloud bank. But none of us wanted to hang out very long in the frigid air. So we got suited up and hustled into the lake just as the sun was starting to emerge.

The lake was almost completely flat and uniformly warm throughout the swim. The sun came out in full just before we hit Oak Street Beach and accompanied us for part of the way back. However, by the time we returned to L1, we had to contend with a drizzly cloud cover that eradicated any evidence of our short window of sunshine.

As noted above, the real challenge of today’s swim was not the lake, but rather the air temperature upon exiting the water. We had to towel off and don warm layers really quickly in the winter-like air. And this proved to be quite a chore since our hands were painfully numb as soon as we got out of the lake.

Still, we had another amazing swim and got to experience the only sunshine of the day – and it was as spectacular as always!

Calm waters


Warming up in the lake!


Lake Monsters migrating south


The sun finally comes out!


Bright and sunny morning at the beach!


A squadron of geese providing directions back to L1


Beth, Lake Monster 331 and Brit, Lake Monster 332 (congrats!)


Pre-swim video:

Swim Report – September 27, 2014 – Hints of Summer

Nick, Martin, Renee, and I met out at L1 just in time to catch yet another amazing sunrise. We had some slight chops that made this swim a bit more of a workout than we had planned. But the 63.5F lake temp and 60F air temp was about as ideal as you could get.

I hope you got out to the lakefront this morning!

Colors at daybreak







Swim Report – September 22, 2014 – Autumnal Equinox Swim!

Great turnout for the last swim of summer – and first swim of autumn!

Nine of us met out at L1 at around 9:15pm, and – other than an occasional nocturnal biker – we pretty much had the lakefront all to ourselves. The lake was a slightly choppy, but the swimming conditions were otherwise ideal given a surprisingly warm 61F and the breathtaking backdrop of the night skyline.

At 9:28pm, we all started getting into the lake to enjoy the final minute of summer for 2014. As seems to now be the tradition, we did our “New Year’s Eve” countdown to officially ring in autumn.

After that, a couple of the swimmers took off to do a longer swim. However, several of us just played around the immediate area and took in the sights and sounds of the first few moments of the new season.

If you missed out on this one, be sure to be out at L1 next year at 3:21am!

The Equinox crew!


10 seconds to autumn


First swimmers of the new season!


Last look before getting out!


In-swim video of skyline

Swim Report – September 20, 2014 – Last weekend of Summer

In spite of the dire warnings of high winds and waves, seven of us showed up at L1 to take our chances on the lake being somewhat swimmable. As it turned out, it was quite calm with the water temperature coming in at a pleasant 61.8F.

The out-and-back to Oak Street Beach was slightly easier on the return leg due to a northbound wind and current. But there were no real waves or chops to contend with while out in the water.

We didn’t get much of a sunrise since we had a wall of clouds out on the eastern horizon. But the sun finally came out just as we finished up.

Overall, a great swim to round out a great summer!




At the beach




One last look back


Everybody in the pool!

Swim Report – September 14, 2014 – Early October?

After several days of yucky weather and tempestuous lake conditions, we finally got a break this morning!

Five seasoned Lake Monsters met out at L1 at 6:30am just as the sun was starting to emerge to the south of the water crib. And just like last week, the colors were absolutely majestic!

The air temperature came in at a crisp 51F, with most of us L1 sporting the sweaters and hats we had put away around late May (sigh…). But fortunately for us, the lake blessed us with very tolerable 58F water which felt even warmer in the full sunshine of the morning.

After the usual procrastinating and deliberating whether it might just be a better idea to ditch swimming and catch breakfast instead, we all suited up and got in the lake. With the calm and flat water, it was a fairly even out-and-back to Oak Street Beach. There were some mild swells near the shore, but certainly nothing disruptive.

At the end of the swim, we bundled up pretty quickly to help stave off the infamous afterdrop. I had swum with only my jammers and a neoprene cap, so I had about 10 minutes of shivering before I got “over the hump.” But it was well worth it given that we pretty much had the entire lake and lakefront to ourselves.

(FYI, If you can’t make it out to one of our swims this time of year, at least try to make it out for a sunrise or two. The ones in late September and early October have the most spectacular colors, in my opinion.)

Sunrise series




Post swim bliss



Swim Report – September 7, 2014 – Photogenic morning!

We had a great turnout at 6:15am, and those who showed up got to experience one of the best sunrises of the year! The lake came in at a balmy 66F with almost perfectly flat conditions.

I’ll keep this report real brief and just let the images speak for themselves. And yes, you did miss out…

Sunrise shots





Swim start



In swim


At the beach




Maria, Lake Monster 329 (congrats!)


Fred, Lake Monster 330 (congrats!)


Swimmers were here…


Swim Report – August 30, 2014 – Lucky morning!

Due to holiday weekend laziness, I am only just posting this today (Labor Day). I’m going to keep this brief since I’m heading back to the beach soon to get in one last swim of the weekend!

According to the weather forecast, Saturday morning was supposed to be touch and go with a likely chance of either rain or full on thunderstorms. Fortunately for us, we got neither while we were out at the lake. So instead of an L1 disaster, we got a 74.4F lake and relatively flat swimming conditions that made for a pretty easy out and back to Oak Street Beach.

We didn’t really get much of a sunrise during the swim since we had a wall of clouds to the east obscuring everything on the horizon. But the sun did peek out soon after we finished – just in time to enjoy it for a short while before heading out.

Once again, another fantastic morning out at the lake!

Lake Monsters pre-swim


Heading south


A quick pause at Oak Street Beach


Jared, Lake Monster 327 (congrats!)


Peter, Lake Monster 328 (didn’t get your L1 pic – sorry!)


Video of the swim start that you missed out on

Swim Report – August 23, 2014 – Swimmers in the Mist

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


Swim start


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