Swim Report – May 23, 2015 – Spring Chops

We sure had our work cut out for us this morning out at the old swim site!

I got a real early start and made it out to L1 just before 5:00am. Judging by the crisp colors showing up on the eastern horizon, I could immediately tell that we were in for a spectacular sunrise.

The lake temperature came in at a uniform 55.4F which was just slightly higher than the air temperature. And while we had clear skies and great visibility, we also had a 10mph sustained wind coming from the southeast that gave us some rather vigorous chops.

Four new swimmers as well as several seasoned Lake Monsters showed up just before the sun made its grand appearance at 5:20am. And as you can tell by the photos, it was one for the ages!

I went in with just my jammers and swim cap this time, and I managed to do the full out-and-back mile. The return leg seemed much easier, and I suspect we had been swimming in a slight northbound current on the way to Oak Street Beach.

Despite the heavily agitated lake, visibility was excellent – you could easily make out the ridges in the sand eight feet below the surface. And even with the random chops constantly buffeting us from all sides, it was still one of the best swims we’ve had so far this year!

As I have opined incessantly over the years, if you slept in this morning you really missed out!

The scene at daybreak

23May2015_10

23May2015_9

23May2015_1

Entering the chops

23May2015_2

Sunrise at water level

23May2015_3

Marton on the way to the beach

23May2015_4

Linda, Lake Monster 347

23May2015_5

Todd, Lake Monster 348

23May2015_6

Jacob, Lake Monster 349

23May2015_7

Jason, Lake Monster 350

23May2015_8

Pre-swim and in-swim video footage!

Swim Report – May 16, 2015 – Fleeting Sunrise

Nine of us met out at L1 just shortly before 5:30am. Despite the weather radar showing bands of storms in the area, L1 managed to escape this fate – at least at that time in the morning!

The lake temperature (surface) came in at 55.4F. However, that proved to be a bit misleading. There was a definite thermocline layer about one meter below the surface that probably dropped the lake temp by about 5F. But all told, the average lake temp whilst in swim averaged out to be 54.8F – warm enough to go sans wetsuit.

Plagued with a head cold and limited sleep, I nevertheless managed to get in 2/3 of a mile before finishing up. I started out at L1 this time and turned around just before the tall white high rise on Lake Shore Drive. Although it was a bit of a shock at first due to the insidious colder thermocline layer, I was quite comfortable after a few minutes. Plus the lake conditions were ideal – clear water and absolutely no waves or chops.

I got back first since I had cut my swim short a bit, and the sun quite surprisingly decided to make an appearance. The sky was pretty solidly overcast, so this was a very welcome diversion. And the extra sun rays really helped stave off the inevitable afterdrop!

All in all, everyone had a great time and finished up well before the rest of the city even woke up.

So enjoy these amazing Spring mornings while you still can because pretty soon the boisterous summer throng will begin to descend upon the lakefront earlier and earlier in the day!

Lake Monster at daybreak

16May2015_9

Marton heading south

16May2015_7

A few shots in swim

16May2015_6

16May2015_5

16May2015_4

Back at L1

16May2015_2

16May2015_3

A much welcome sunrise

16May2015_1

16may2015D1

The rest of the crew arrives!

16may2015J

Daryl, Lake Monster 346

16may2015D2

Video montage

Swim Report – May 2, 2015 – Spring Perfection

I get a lot of flack for scheduling these meetups so godforsakenly early on a Saturday morning. But what people don’t realize is that this is the absolute best time of day to get in the lake – and yesterday was no exception!

A great group of both new and seasoned Lake Monsters met out at L1 just before 5:45am, and at first we weren’t sure we were going to get much of a sunrise. There was a bank of clouds to the east that was obscuring the horizon, and it didn’t look like we would be able to see anything before we started our swim. But a bright orange orb peeked through an aperture in the clouds and gave us quite an amazing send off to our swim!

The official lake temp came in at 50.5F, and the water conditions were calm and flat – a welcome contrast to last week. I once again did the jog to Oak Street Beach with a half-mile swim back, and it was quite comfortable in just my jammers and swim cap.

By the time everyone returned to L1, the sun was out in full force giving us yet another amazing start to our weekend. Wish you all could have been there, too!

Sunrise at 5:45am

2May2015_1

2May2015_2

Swim start

2May2015_3

Obed, in-swim

2May2015_5

Marty, Lake Monster 344

2May2015_6

Brendan, Lake Monster 345

2May2015_7

Lake Monsters post-swim

2May2015_8

2May2015_9

One last look back!

2May2015_11

Happy May!

2May2015_12

Today’s video compilation:

Swim Report – April 18, 2015 – Spring Turnover Edition

Despite a forecast calling for high winds, the swim site was perfectly calm at 6:00am. Marton, Mary Ellen, Jared, and Fred were there along with new Lake Monsters Mikala, Danae, and Louise.

The sunrise, as always, was magnificent, and the lake temperature (surface) came in at an amazing 51F. After gearing up (and procrastinating a bit), we all made our way into the lake.

The in-swim lake temperature came in at a constant 48.8F. But the real treat was the color and clarity of the water. Lake Michigan is in the midst of the Spring turnover right now, so we have all the fresher and cleaner water coming up from the depths to mix with the surface water. All in all, it makes for a very pleasant swim!

I ended up doing the half-mile point to point from Oak Street Beach to L1 again, and I was completely comfortable in just a swimsuit and neoprene cap. The key factor, as always, was the ample sunshine that really helped stave off the cold and chase away the afterdrop.

As I have said time and time again, if you slept in this morning you really missed out!

City at dawn

18April2015_14

Lake Monsters gathering

18April2015_15

Sunrise!

18_April_2015_7

18_April_2015_5

18_April_2015_9

18_April_2015_8

At the beach

18_April_2015_10

18April2015_beach

Mikala, Lake Monster 341 (congrats!)

18_April_2015_2

Danae, Lake Monster 342 (congrats!)

18_April_2015_3

Louise, Lake Monster 343 (hailing all the way from Australia!)

18_April_2015_4

L1 from a different perspective

18_April_2015_1

Today’s video compilation (sorry about the blurry parts)

Swim Report – November 1, 2014 – All Saints’ Day Swim

The saints sure were with us in the lake this morning!

Five of us met out at L1 at 7:30am and looked out at very dire swimming conditions. The waves and chops had subsided very little from the night before, and they were cresting at around 12-14 feet. In addition, we had 15mph sustained winds along with a 40F air temperature. After much deliberation, we decided to do a limited swim in the area just around L1 – and even that proved to be a massive challenge!

Because of these unprecedented conditions, I went with a full wetsuit to preserve heat and maintain buoyancy. And with the official water temperature coming in at 49.2F, that proved to be the wise thing to do!

Getting in by L1 was tricky since you had to time the swells or otherwise risk getting slammed back. But the real challenge, however, was exiting the lake.

Even with just swimming around the L1 area, we were forced to get out at L3 several times due to the high volume waves pushing us south and not allowing us to get close enough to L1 or L2 to make an effective exit. Given all this chaos, I got out of the lake and retrieved my rescue buoy before getting back in. This was a welcome addition back out in the lake, and it helped us conserve our energy and better time our exits.

We all managed to get out intact – although a bit cold and battered. And we received a well-deserved chastisement from some highly respectable CPD officers who were very concerned about our well being given the fact that the conditions were so bad that even the police boats could not navigate the lake.

So the next time we get these conditions, we will definitely not be “giving it a shot.”

Daybreak

1_Nov_2014_3

1_Nov_2014_2

1_Nov_2014_1

Pre-swim

1_Nov_2014_4

In the drink

1_Nov_2014_5

Left to right – Marton and new Lake Monsters Andrew (339) and John (340)

1_Nov_2014_7

Swim Report – October 25, 2014 – As good as it gets!

As I have repeatedly opined in the past, the October sunrises – and accompanying swims – are often some of the best of the year…

A quite sizable crew of intrepid swimmers met up at L1 at 7:00am. Fortunately, the lakefront was nothing like last week! Conversely, we had mirror flat water, 62F air temperature, super clear skies, and no wind at all – about as good as it gets.

The initial lake temperature reading came in at 56.2F (surface). However, the in swim reading was a bit more crisp at 55.4F. Still, with the overabundance of sunshine and calm lake conditions, it was a pretty easy out-and-back to the beach.

Since it’s a perfect day outside, I’m keeping this report short so I can enjoy it. And if you’re thinking about possibly getting in one last swim of the year, I would definitely check out the lakefront today!

First shot of the morning crew

25_Oct_2014_8

Daybreak

25_Oct_2014_9

25_Oct_2014_7

Late October sunrise

25_Oct_2014_5

Swim start!

25_Oct_2014_4

25_Oct_2014_3

Post-swim sunshine

25_Oct_2014_1

25_Oct_2014_14

Autumn leaves

25_Oct_2014_2

New Lake Monsters [left to right] – Tracy (335), Margaret (336), Judit (337), Ali (338) – congrats!

25_Oct_2014_LMs

Pre-swim selfie!

25_Oct_2014_6

Sunrise video

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

18Oct2014_2

Step into liquid

18Oct2014_8

The view at water level

18Oct2014_7

Lake Monsters in their element

18Oct2014_1

18Oct2014_10

Retrieving my shoe!

18Oct2014_6

Tenuous approach and exit

18Oct2014_3

18Oct2014_9

Looking back

18Oct2014_4

Haiko, Lake Monster 334

18Oct2014_5

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

11Oct2014_3

Sunrise

11Oct2014_7

Waning moon

11Oct2014_4

Taking the plunge

11Oct2014_8

At the beach

11Oct2014_9

Michael, Lake Monster 333 (congrats!)

11Oct2014_2

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

04Oct2014_4

Warming up in the lake!

04Oct2014_6

Lake Monsters migrating south

04Oct2014_7

The sun finally comes out!

04Oct2014_2

Bright and sunny morning at the beach!

04Oct2014_1

A squadron of geese providing directions back to L1

04Oct2014_5

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

04Oct2014_8

Pre-swim video:

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

7sept2014_12

7sept2014_13

7sept2014_11

7sept2014_14

Swim start

7sept2014_2

7sept2014_1

In swim

7sept2014_16

At the beach

7sept2014_4

7sept2014_5

7sept2014_6

Maria, Lake Monster 329 (congrats!)

7sept2014_8

Fred, Lake Monster 330 (congrats!)

7sept2014_9

Swimmers were here…

7sept2014_7