Swim Report – July 15, 2017 – Ahead of the waves

A quite sizable group of early morning swimmers showed up at L1 at 5:28am. As expected, we had clear skies and a magnificent sunrise. The water level, though, was a bit of a surprise.

The lake was at the highest level I have seen in years. Perhaps this was due to all the recent storms, but it was certainly a contrast to the lower than normal lake levels of a few years ago.

We had some slight swells (1 to 2 feet) that seemed to intensify as the morning went on. However, no one complained about the 69.1F water.

In sum, another great morning out at the old swim site. And given that the lakefront was shut down the next day due to heavy waves and currents, it looks like we picked the best time to sneak in a swim!

Scenes at sunrise

Taking the plunge

At the beach

Liz, Lake Monster 451 (congrats!)

Noah, Lake Monster 452 (congrats!)

Ernst, Lake Monster 453 (congrats!)

Swim Report – July 8, 2017 – Back to 70F

Four of us met out at L1 at 5:20am, and the lake was rather agitated. The 2-4 foot swells were cresting over the ledge, so we had to move all our stuff back by the bike path to prevent a rapacious lake from sweeping it all out into oblivion.

Fortunately for us, the lake temp came in at a magnificent 70.2 – not as crystal clear as the last few meetups, but certainly a joy to swim in!

I opted to do a 1/2 mile swim to the beach, and it was quite a workout in the waves. But the real challenge was landing at the beach where the much larger waves were breaking.

When I was about 50 meters from the shore, I veered off a bit further into the lake and chose the middle of Oak Street Beach as my landing point. This was because of the chaotic mess that was taking place at “Hell’s Corner.” But even with that course correction, it was still a tricky passage to the beach!

Sunrise

Into the swells

“Hell’s Corner”

The new L1 mascot

Swim start video!

Swim Report – July 1, 2017 – Happy July!

This will be a quick one as it’s a mighty fine weekend, and I don’t want to squander it in front of the computer!

Suffice to say, this was another perfect morning for a swim. And despite the 5:20am swim start, we had a good size crew show up – including a few Lake Monsters that we haven’t seen since last year!

The lake came in at 65.1F on the surface, although there were definitely some colder layers below that you could occasionally feel mid-stroke. But the water was calm and clear, and we had plenty of sunshine to overcome any unexpected chilly water!

Dawn colors

Lake Monster gathering

Swim start

Mid-swim by the buoy

Swim finish and full on sunshine!

Ashley, Lake Monster 450 (congrats!)

Swim Report – June 24, 2017 – All Summer in a Morning

Our first summer meetup brought out several new swimmers as well as some recently minted Lake Monsters who are now officially part of the “hardcore morning crew.” Indeed, being just on the other side of the solstice, the 5:14am swim time is most certainly a challenge. But we had a great group this morning that gleefully thumbed their noses at the sandman and got their swim in at sunrise!

Speaking of sunrises, this one was one of the top ones I’ve seen in quite some time. In fact, the entire lake front was incredibly photogenic this morning – hence the color, contrast, and clarity of the images below (people always ask me what camera I use, and I always tell them that the camera is irrelevant – if you’re out at L1 this time of the morning, you’re going to get the shot on any device!).

The lake temp came in at a fantastic 61.7F lake temp, and we had lots of sunshine to accompany us throughout our swim. But the real treat was the aquarium clear water which gave us a unique glimpse of the underwater landscape around L1 – including the occasional pod of lake salmon which would criss cross beneath us during our time in the lake.

As with last week, I did a 1/2 mile point to point swim to the beach and walked back. By the time I returned to L1, the sun was still almost due east on the horizon. This made for some great shots of all the brand new Lake Monsters!

Great job everyone!

Dawn of a new Summer…

Another perfect sunrise

Swimmers at the shrine of L1

Everybody in the lake!

Geese conga line

Underwater shots

Bernie, Lake Monster 442 (congrats!)

Nora, Lake Monster 443 (congrats!)

Kathleen, with lucky Lake Monster number 444 (congrats!)

Katie, a triumphant Lake Monster 445 (congrats!)

Steve, Lake Monster 446 (congrats!)

Michelle, Lake Monster 447 (congrats!)

Rochelle, Lake Monster 448 (congrats!)

Rob, Lake Monster 449, hailing all the way from the UK (congrats!)

Sunrise and in-swim video compilation

Swim Report – June 18, 2017 – Farewell Spring!

Once again, the weather gods cooperated this morning to give us a great swim!

Five of us met out at L1 for a special Sunday bonus meetup – and last official meetup of Spring 2017 – and the swimming conditions were about as perfect as it could get. The lake temp came in at 63.1F, and the overcast skies began to burn off while we were getting suited up, giving the sun a chance to shine through.

The initial immersion was a bit crisp given that the thermocline layer was really close to the surface around L1. But it was more than tolerable with the 73F air temperature.

I did the same 1/2 mile route as yesterday – a landing at Oak Street Beach followed by a walk back to L1. There were definitely some cold spots along the way, but the lake was amazingly clear – so much so that I had to dive down to the bottom several times to check out some of the items that people had either lost or inadvertently tossed into the lake.

As I’ve said repeatedly in the past, we typically tend to luck out with the weather and lake conditions around sunrise – even if the weather forecast is gloomy for that hour. For some reason, if there’s going to be inclement weather, it doesn’t usually kick in until later in the morning.

So don’t get discouraged by all the talking heads on the news channels. Trust the lake instead!

The 5:14am crew

No storms here!

Stephanie, Lake Monster 440 (congrats!)

Gio, Lake Monster 441 (congrats!)

Swim Report – June 17, 2017 – Squeaking By

All the conventional wisdom and expert opinion of the weather experts pointed towards a disastrous thunderstorm taking place just around the time of our swim start. Fortunately for us, the climate industrial complex was wrong as usual…

Ten of us obstinate Lake Monsters met out at L1 in spite of the doom-saying, and we managed to get in a very pleasant swim in some amazingly calm and clear water. The lake came in at an almost perfect 63.8F (surface). It was a bit nippier below the two meter mark, but the thermocline layer sure made everything as clear as an aquarium!

While we had a rather ominous cloud bank pass us by to the north, no thunderstorm ever materialized. In fact, the only thing we got was a very brief downpour way after most of us had already finished up with our swim.

The ironic thing is that, while the skies cleared up over the next few hours, the winds also picked up and the lake became choppier. So from a pure swimming conditions perspective, we once again got the best part of the day!

Skyline at dawn

A bit of ugliness to the north

Daybreak



Calm conditions at 5:20am!

Beach class picture

Larry, Lake Monster 438 (congrats!)

Pat, Lake Monster 439 (congrats!)

Swim Report – June 10, 2017 – Hello Summer!

Whenever the lake cracks the 60F ceiling, it’s officially summer – solstice be damned!

Ten of us met out at L1 at the ungodly hour of 5:14am, and we were greeted with a picture perfect morning. I had already been up for most of the night thanks to Hurricane Joseph, so it was a relatively painless process getting out to the swim site at such an early time.

It was already 70F outside, and the lake temperature (surface) came in at 61.5F. So I went with just my jammers, but I did don a thermo cap given that I was feeling the cold a bit more due to my lack of sleep.

Since I hadn’t been out to L1 in a couple of weeks, I really wanted to make a beach landing. So I decided to do a point-to-point 1/2 mile to Oak Street Beach and walk back.

It was actually a very pleasant stroll back to L1 as there was no afterdrop whatsoever. Something tells me that I may not get to experience one of those until October – and I’m perfectly fine with that!

Sunrise shots



Lake Monsters in their element

Crystal clear water!

The view from water level

Beach landing!

Swim Report – May 27, 2017 – Holiday Weekend!

The weatherman was wrong for once. Instead of scattered thunderstorms, we had lots of sun for Memorial Day weekend along with a perfectly swimmable lake. Not that anyone complained, of course…

To be honest, things weren’t looking too good on Friday night. It was rather cold and rainy, and I wasn’t sure what to expect at 5:20am the next morning. But fate was kind to us, and things pretty much cleared up by the time I hit the sack.

I had to hustle out to the swim site the following morning as I was running a bit late. But I got there with a few minutes to spare before the sunrise. And it sure was a beauty!

The lake temp came in at a very respectable 57.6F and climbing, so we got on our gear and got in the lake right away. I had been fighting off a bad cold the entire week, so it was a bit more of a challenge acclimating to the lake at first. But I soon found my groove and started heading south.

I made it to the 1/8 mile mark and started to get a bit fatigued. Apparently the cold still had its claws in me pretty tightly. So I backtracked a bit and did a leisurely swim out to the buoys. By then the morning clouds had burned off, so you had a clear view from one of the best places to see the skyline.

I hung out by the buoys for a short while before heading back to L1. By then the sun was out in full force and the air temperature had gotten up to the low 60Fs.

I wish I could brag to you all and say that we got the best part of the weekend on Saturday morning. But things just kept getting better and better through today. And since the beaches are now officially open, it is officially time for all of you to ditch those nasty indoor pools and get out to the lake – where you belong!

Lakefront at dawn

Sunrise!

Lake Monsters in action

Out by the buoy

Luke, Lake Monster 437 (congrats!)

Friday night Hancock

Memorial Weekend J-Turn

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!)