Swim Report – September 23, 2017 – Autumn Scorcher

Summer went out with a bang this year and decided to spill over into Autumn this weekend. Not that any of us minded, however…

The air temperature read 80F when I stepped outside yesterday morning, and it continued its upward climb throughout the day. I had snuck out to the lake on Friday morning, so I wasn’t too surprised by the lake temperature. Still, after weeks of it rather obstinately entrenched in the 65F range, it was awfully nice to see it back at 72.5F!

We had a record crowd out at the world’s best swim site – at least 25 swimmers from what I can recall. The heat wave coupled with the later meetup time seemed to have sparked much more interest in coming out to the lakefront. Plus the rumor that we were going to have perfect swimming conditions turned out to be true (again, not that any of us minded.)

We all got a bit of a late start as we were very distracted by the absolutely stunning sunrise. But once we got in the lake, it was business as usual making our way to the beach.

Because the lake conditions were perfectly calm, I was able to get a decent swim rhythm right away. So by the time I hit Oak Street Beach I was hardly winded at all! Nevertheless, I still decided to walk back as I ended up spending a lot of time at the beach taking more shots of all the swimmers.

By the time I got back to L1, things had really started to heat up and the lakefront was getting exceptionally busy – particularly on the multi-use path. So I figured that this would be a good time to make a quick exit before the weekend mob arrived.

Happy Autumn 2017!

First dawn of Autumn

Swarm of Lake Monsters!

Another photogenic morning

The in-swim view to the east

Beach landing!

Andrew, Lake Monster 476 (congrats!)

Simon, Lake Monster 477 (congrats!)

Becca, Lake Monster 478 (congrats!)

Erin, Lake Monster 479 (congrats!)

Marc, Lake Monster 480 (congrats!)

Nicole, Lake Monster 481 (congrats!)

Carlo, Lake Monster 482 (congrats!)

And lastly, Eric, Lake Monster 483 (congrats!)

Joey, Lake Monster 475

Swim Report – September 16, 2017 – Late Summer Perfection

There’s nothing like a perfect swim morning to make up for a very rough evening…

Hurricane Joseph became a Category 5 storm at 2:00am last night. So given that I was completely spent by the time it came to leave for the swim, imagine my joy when the lake turned out to be completely civil this time around!

Summer surged back this week and warmed up the lake to an idyllic in-swim temperature of 69.6F. The air was already 72F (and climbing), and the water conditions were about as good as it gets. We had several new faces out this morning as well as some Lake Monsters we haven’t seen at L1 for a while. This made for a very social morning while extending our usual pre-swim procrastination that much longer!

I had planned to swim to the beach and walk back, but I got a bit of a late start taking Lake Monster photos of everyone. Plus I had to get back home real quick to take care of some Eastern yellow jackets that had decided to build a colony in my brickwork. So instead, I went out to the 1/8 mile mark and did a loop out to the buoys and back – about 1/2 mile total.

I finished up ahead of the others who did the entire out and back and took off just as they were making their final approach to L1. By then the sun was out in full force and the lakefront was starting to really come alive.

I wish I could have stayed out there all day!

Crescent moon at daybreak


Lots of pics at our photogenic swim site!

In swim shots

The author sporting a super cool South End Rowing Club swim cap (Thanks Fran!)

Eric, Lake Monster 468 (congrats!)

Linda, Lake Monster 469 (congrats!)

Left to right – Hannah, Lake Monster 470; Sarah, Lake Monster 471, and Kate, Lake Monster 472 (congrats!)

Pat, Lake Monster 473 (congrats!)

Khoga, Lake Monster 474 (congrats!)

Evicting the yellow jackets

My household at 2:00am

Swim Report – September 2, 2017 – Catchin’ Waves

With the lakefront swim advisory lasting almost all of last week, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get in a swim on Saturday morning. Fortunately, the lake had calmed down a bit overnight. But not by much I can assure you!

The surface temp at L1 read 69.1F at 6:15am. But it was hard to get a steady reading as the lake kept casting out my thermometer. That’s because the swells were large enough that they were cresting about halfway up the ladder whenever they hit the side wall. However, there was a least a rhythm to this mess – unlike the chops from last week. So for better or worse, the swim was a go!

I hung around L1 taking some shots before heading south behind a phalanx of Wheaton College swimmers (who soon left me in the dust). I had just gotten into a decent swim pattern when I hit a nasty seaweed patch that had some deflated party balloons thrown in just for fun. I zigzagged around it but never really escaped all of nature’s finest throughout the swim. In fact, there were very few swimmers who managed to make it to the beach without a souvenir seaweed necklace!

As with last week, I chose to walk back versus swim back. I probably could have done the whole mile if the lake were calmer, but I didn’t want to spend the entire holiday weekend recovering in my backyard hammock – although that’s sounding mighty inviting as I write this!

Again, even though it was an intense physical challenge, it was one of our better swims this summer. The water temp was perfect, sunrise was magnificent, and we had the whole place to ourselves. Too bad you all missed out!

Skyline at daybreak


Another sun shot in swim

The setup for the AVP volleyball tournament at Oak Street Beach

Claire, Lake Monster 465 (congrats!)

Jennifer, Lake Monster 466 (congrats!)

Bethany, Lake Monster 467 (congrats!)

Swim Report – August 26, 2017 – Back in the Chops!

A whole merry group of us met out at L1 at the late hour of 6:10am. The lake came in at a fantastic 72.0F, and the sunrise was nothing short of other-worldy. But we sure had our work cut out for us with the water conditions!

We lucked out in that we didn’t have the high volume swells that we’ve had in prior weeks. However, we did get some very vigorous chops that created quite a ruckus all around our swim area. Plus these things are notoriously exhausting as it’s nearly impossible to maintain any semblance of a swim rhythm while immersed in them.

Nevertheless, several veteran and newly minted Lake Monsters gleefully plunged into the abyss and earned their bragging rights for the weekend (and beyond)!

I delayed my swim start as I was busy snapping shots of the other swimmers. But once I got started, I knew this was going to be one of the more challenging ones.

I hit the 1/8 mile mark, and I was already a bit gassed out. That’s because the chops were heavier than normal – which meant that you were getting buffeted from all directions and having to react to those forces. However, by the 1/4 mile point I had kind of found the micro-pattern in all the chaos and was able to get into some semblance of a swim groove.

I made it to Oak Street Beach where several of the others were already waiting. I opted to jog back versus swim back because 1) I had to get back home ASAP, and 2) I was already beat from that bear of a swim!

But if you are a frequent reader of all these posts, you know that we Lake Monsters don’t consider a swim like this to be a bust. Instead, we look at these opportunities as fun adventures – even if we only make it to the second ladder!

Sunrise sequence

The Wheaton College crew!

At the edge of the abyss

Heading south in the chops

At the beach!

Meredith, Lake Monster 459 (congrats!)

Alice, Lake Monster 460 (congrats!)

Monica, Lake Monster 461 (congrats!)

Emily, Lake Monster 462 (congrats!)

Kristen, Lake Monster 463 (congrats!)

Alex, Lake Monster 464 (congrats!)

Swim Report – August 12, 2017 – Summer in the City!

About ten of us met just before 6:00am at L1. The air temperature was a bit crisp at 61F with a rather pesky breeze making it seem chiller than normal. So most of us waited until the sun peeked out from behind a wall of clouds to the east before starting our swim.

Fortunately for us, the lake was a blazing 73.0F. I was planning to swim to the beach and walk back as usual, but I decided to instead go to the 1/4 mile mark and do a large loop out by the buoys.

By the time we all returned back to L1, the wind had stopped and the sun was out in force. If I didn’t have so many other things to do up north, I could easily have just hung out there all day!


Taking the plunge

Lake Monster sightings

Hanging out in the pool post swim

Mary, Lake Monster 458 (congrats!)

In-swim video

Swim Report – August 5, 2017 – Peak Summer

A much more even-tempered lake greeted us at 5:45am yesterday, giving us almost near perfect swimming conditions. Instead of last week’s 6-8 foot high volume and ultra-chaotic swells, we had steady 1-2 foot waves that were much easier to navigate. But as typical this time of year, the lake was at its finest in terms of comfort level.

The surface temperature came in at 71.4F with the in-swim watch thermometer reading a steady 72.0F. And while not as clear as in May, the lake had pretty good visibility given how active it has been these past few weeks!

As always, the resplendent and vibrantly colorful sunrise was the highlight of the morning. This was one of the better ones, so if you opted to stay indoors and sleep off your hangover you can be assured that your night of overindulgence robbed you of something spectacular.

Given that my swim endurance is not as robust as last year at this time – and I gleefully blame Hurricane Joseph for this – I only did the 1/2 mile to Oak Street Beach before walking back. However, I’m glad I chose this option over just turning around at the 1/4 mile point.

Bottom line, Oak Street Beach was a total blast! The smaller swells were still very high volume, and they broke on the beach into some quite sizable waves. So a bunch of us decided to stick around for a while and do some 6:00am body surfing!

Wish you could have been there!

Dawn plunge


The 5:45am crew

In-swim shots

Beach action shots

A new paint job on L1 thanks to Diver Dave!

Hanging out in the balmy lake post-swim

Roelof, Lake Monster 457 (congrats!)

Swim Report – July 29, 2017 – Plan (OS)B

I was really excited when I woke up this morning as the pre-dawn skies were clear and cloudless. So I knew that the sunrise was going to be fantastic. But as I turned onto Lake Shore Drive from Hollywood, I also knew that we were in for quite an ordeal…

L1 was a raging, frothy mess at 5:40am. The winds we’ve been having this week have really stirred things up, and the end result has been an angry lake with some high volume, highly erratic swells. Needless to say these are no fun to swim in.

After several swimmers arrived, I announced that we were going to ixnay L1 in favor of Ohio Street Beach given that there is at least a breakwater at that site. So we ran, biked, and carpooled down to OSB to see if that site was a go.

Fortunately for us, OSB was much more civil. Although it was still very choppy, we didn’t have the high volume swells that were present 1 mile north. So we put on our swim gear and waded out into the lake.

The water temperature was a blazing 73.4F – very enjoyable even in the chops. I swam out to the 1/4 mile point and then swam back, so 1/2 mile total. But I had to breast stroke part of the way as it was very difficult to find any rhythm in the “washing machine.”

We finished up at around 6:45am, and by that time the sun was out in full force. It was quite a perfect summer morning to be honest. Except for that raging lake part…


No swimmin’ at L1!

The scene at OSB

Andrew, Lake Monster 454, hailing all the way from Australia (congrats!)

Lizz, Lake Monster 455, in town from SoCal (with bonus seagull in the background)

Thomas, Lake Monster 456, shaming all of us by doing a full mile in the chops (congrats!)

Scarlet beebalm (nothing to do with swimming, but it sure looks lovely in my side yard!)

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 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!)