Swim Report – August 29, 2021 – Don’t Fence Us In!

Good fences may make good neighbors, but this isn’t the case with swimming…

The last meetup of August brought out several Lake Monsters to the lakefront as well as a number of other early morning revelers taking advantage of the 75.0F lake temp and 80F air temp. I can’t say I blame everyone as the skies were clear, the lake was calm, and we had a great show to the east at 6:00am.

The only glitch in our swim plans was a pesky chain link fence that had been erected along the shoreline from L1 to L3 completely blocking access to the water. Apparently the city is doing some much needed repairs of the concrete in this area. And while this is certainly necessary, it did require use to get in the lake a bit farther north of L1. We could easily have snuck around the fence to get to L1 (and some people did), but there is a submerged safety ladder just on the other side of the fence that enabled us to get in and out of the water easily.

The near perfect lake conditions put me in a really good swim groove, and I decided to do the point to point half mile to Oak Street Beach. Once I reached the shore, I sat around for a bit in the water enjoying the now fully risen sun and the wonderful late summer morning. Pretty soon things will start to get a bit nipper in both the lake and the outside air, so now is the time to get in your final summer swims!

Sunrise sequence
Don’t fence us in!
Swim start!
Ethan, Lake Monster 533 (congrats!)

Swim Report – August 22, 2021 – Grey Skies at Dawn

Seven of us made it out to L1 this morning and, fortunately for us, the “beach hazard” swim conditions did not materialize at 6:00am. While we did have some 2-3 foot slow rolling swells, they were more than manageable in the 72.0F lake.

I went with my usual peak summer set up – jammers and goggles – although I realized half way into my swim that the former were on backwards. But lucky for me this didn’t hamper my performance in the water. What did, though, was the swells on the return part of the swim. The wind was blowing them in a steep southwest direction, so I was basically swimming directly into them for the last 1/4 mile.

Overall, another fantastic morning out at the lake, and we didn’t have to contend with the Air Show crowds!

Daybreak
Lake Monsters pre-swim
Ashley, Lake Monster 532 (congrats!)

Swim Report – July 25, 2021 – Tarzan Edition

The last meetup of July gave us a perfect summer morning! The lake came in at a balmy 73.8F with an air temp of 72F at 5:40am. I once again planned to go minimalist – i.e. swim jammers and goggles only. But I had to go with just the jammers as I left my goggles at home (ulp)! So the 1/2 mile swim to the beach was pretty “old school.” But the lake conditions were ideal, so the walk back to L1 was an absolute joy. Happy July!

L1 at dawn
Swimmers at sunrise
Paul, Lake Monster 530 (congrats!)
Jenny, Lake Monster 531 (congrats!)

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 – October 27, 2019 – Out Like a Lion

We had three tranquil weeks out at L1, so we were long overdue for an abrupt change. Fortunately, we only had to contend with a mildly irritated lake versus a full on rage that sometimes happens around the end of October!

After bellyaching for months (years?) about the slippery pavement around L1, I finally decided to take action on Sunday morning. I brought out a hard bristle cleaning broom to scrape away the slick biofilm that has been plaguing us all year. I was hoping for another week with a calm lake so I could clear things up for everyone. Unfortunately, we had 1-2 foot swells that made it very difficult to properly scour the pavement. But I was able to clear some of it away, and I got a pretty good read on the lake temperature through my exposed feet. Bottom line, no searing pain, so the water temperature was likely still in the 50F+ range!

Encouraged by this data point (and by a clear, sunny sky), I opted to go with just my jammers and neoprene cap. I also applied a healthy layer of shea butter which made a world of difference in swim. So after much procrastination, I got in at L2 where the rough pavement allowed for more traction getting into the lake.

I did my usual out and back to the 1/4 mile mark (1/2 mile total) and was quite relieved at how “effortless” the swim was on the way out. Well, it turned out that there was a pretty strong southbound current, so the swim back was a real workout! Nevertheless, I along with three other intrepid Lake Monsters managed to stare down an irritable 53.0 F Lake Michigan and get in a swim on what was otherwise a perfect autumn morning.

A tempestuous lake at dawn
Gearing up!
Lake Monsters at sunrise
Maddy, Lake Monster 527 (congrats!)

Swim Report – October 20, 2019 – Autumn Colors

The lakefront was surprisingly active yesterday morning. While I’m sure the later sunrise time helped bring people out, the real draw was likely the ideal conditions for capturing sunrise shots given that mid to late October mornings offer color, clarity, and contrast unmatched by other months.

Once again, the weather spirits were kind to us giving us a calm, flat lake and no wind to nip at us in the 52F air. The lake came in at a solid 54.5F, and but for a pesky low lying cloud wall to the east, we had bright and clear skies. So while we planned to wait until the sun appeared, we got a bit restless and went in the lake before it made its official entrance.

As with last week, I went in with just my jammers and neoprene cap. But I also slathered on some shea butter on my torso, neck, arms, and legs which really took the edge off of the lake entry and made a huge difference in swim.

I decided to only do 1/4 mile as I had to get back up north for a morning appointment. But I could have easily stayed in the lake much longer as the sun came out in full mod-swim making it quite comfortable the entire time I was in the lake. Fingers crossed that we get these conditions next week!

The lakefront at dawn
The sun finally makes an appearance
The oak trees turning
Yvonne, Lake Monster 526 (congrats!)

Swim Report – September 1, 2019 – More swells!

Lake Michigan was once again rather spirited last Sunday, but a number of us managed to get in a swim on the first day of September. The in-swim temp came in at 64.6F. This was a rather precipitous drop from the previous week and a not so subtle signal from Mother Nature that the temperate days of summer have indeed come to a close. Nevertheless, it was warm enough to take on the swells and chops for the 1/2 mile I was in the water. I’m keeping this brief since it’s already the end of the week. Hope you have a great Labor Day weekend!

Daybreak chops
The morning crew
Charlie, Lake Monster 525 (congrats!)

Swim Report – August 25, 2019 – A Swell Time

There were a lot of dry wetsuits a few miles south of L1 last Sunday, but we managed to get in a swim in spite of a rather raucous lake. Of course, a lake temperature of almost 74F really helped us out!

Whenever the sunrise takes place after 6:00am, I always get a bit melancholic since it is an obvious sign from Ma Nature that summer is coming to a close (metaphorically, as we technically have until September 23). And while the later swim start times do allow for more sleep, there is something about a foggy headed 5:30am swim time that provides the joyous certainty that summer is still on the upswing. But alas, such is the cycle of the seasons…

A handful of intrepid Lake Monsters came out to L1 and stared down a peevish Lake Michigan that had just eviscerated the dreams of nearly 9,000 triathletes down at Monroe Harbor. Having dealt with this problem child several times in the past, I immediately checked the lake temperature to see if that would be a complicating factor. As luck would have it, the mercury came in at 73.4F – quite a contrast to the rather brisk 61F (and windy) outside temperature! After monitoring the lake movements and surveying the swim area, we decided to get in at L2 where entry and egress seemed to be easier (or at least less difficult).

Despite the 3-4 foot swells and vigorous chops, being in the lake was very pleasant given the almost bath-like lake temperature. As with prior weeks, I went in with just my tropical print swim trunks and brand new goggles, and I was able to complete the 1/2 mile to Oak Street Beach before walking back. So overall, a successful morning!

The only real complication occurred on my way home in the car. It seems as if ragweed season is starting a bit early this year, and my allergies started to kick in about 45 minutes after being in the water. For those of you who deal with this type of allergy, be aware that ragweed pollen – unlike other pollen – does not sink in water. Instead, it floats on the surface and collects near the shores. So have your neti pot handy at the lake or as soon as you get home!

Sunrise
Lake Monsters at dawn
Time for a swim!

Swim Report – August 11, 2019 – Seaweed Edition

Sunday’s swim was a real winner with the lake temp coming in at an amazing 75.9F. It was somewhat overcast, but the cloud cover was higher up so we had a clear swim area. We also had a great turnout with a number of new faces, so I didn’t get into the lake right away as I was catching up with everyone. But once I decided to get in, it was an easy acclimation given the warmer lake.

I did my usual point-to-point to Oak Street Beach, but it was a bit more than 1/2 mile in total as I did a long arc out from L1 in order to avoid a large seaweed patch. In fact, we all noticed much more seaweed in the lake which is common once the temperature gets as high as it is right now.

The walk back to L1 was pleasant and relaxing in the 70F air, but I noticed that I was starting to get a bit congested. This later turned into intermittent sneezing on the drive home, so I did my post-lake routine in order to flush out all the algae/pollen/particulates that are in the lake this time of year. But that’s a small price to pay for such lovely lake temperatures!

Dawn skyline
Obscured sunrise
Swim start!
Lake Monsters heading south
Jordan, Lake Monster 521 (congrats!)
Peter, Lake Monster 522 (congrats!)
Jeff, Lake Monster 523 (congrats!)
The sun finally peeks through!
Back to my rock star parking spot!

Swim Report – Sunday August 4, 2019 – Summer Minimalism

Our last meetup started out on a fantastic note as I once again secured rock star parking in one of the spaces just on the other side of the pedestrian tunnel. So instead of my usual mad scramble from Clark Street to catch the sunrise, I had the luxury of a leisurely stroll out to our world famous swim spot.

Similar to last week, these later sunrises and warmer lake temperatures brought out some open water veterans we haven’t seen for a while. So it was a pleasant reunion at 5:45am made all the more enjoyable by 75F weather and a 70.2F lake!

Without a doubt, what I like most about this time of year is the inherent minimalism of high summer. So apart from bringing my towel, keys, and camera, all I needed in the lake was my swim trunks and a pair of goggles – quite a contrast to the stuffed duffel bags we bring out to the lake in winter!

The lake had a slight ripple, but it was more than manageable for the 1/2 mile down to Oak Street Beach. I opted to get out of the lake there and walk back, and it was a very peaceful stroll given that there were only a few random runners on the lakefront path.

I stuck around L1 for a short while and chatted with some of the other swimmers. Just as I was getting ready to leave, Diver Dave showed up with two large inner tubes. I was REALLY tempted to stay out there for the rest of the morning, but I had to head back north for the day. Maybe next time!

Sunrise!
The coolest swim backdrop on the planet!
Swim start
Aaron and Gisele, Lake Monsters 519 and 520 respectively (congrats!)