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!)

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 – 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 – December 3, 2016 – Late Autumn Turnover

We were getting a bit spoiled in November with the unseasonably warmer lake temperatures. But Ma Nature sure let us know who was boss this morning!

Six of us met out at a chilly but calm lakefront at 7:00am. I tossed in my thermometer to get the surface temperature, and the mercury came in at a brisk 45F. So we’ve definitely (and finally) hit the fall turnover!

I was wavering as to what level of “swim armor” I should wear. I’ve had a two-week hiatus from the lake, and I’m just at the tail end of a really nasty cold. But I decided to chance it and went in with just my jammers, neoprene cap, and a healthy layer of petroleum jelly.

Thanks to a perfectly calm lake and zero wind, the immersion was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. The only issue I had was with my hands. Since I usually wear gloves in these temperatures, they were a bit painful throughout the swim. But apart from that, I was able to do a 1/2 mile without any difficulties.

The post-swim recovery was brutal. I hastened out of my wet swimwear and into dry layers as soon as humanly possible. But this was substantially compromised by my cold hands and tortoise-like reaction times.

After completing my change of clothes and gathering all my gear, I made a hasty goodbye to the others and indicated that I needed to retreat to the sanctuary of my heated car. So accompanied by new Lake Monster Cedric, I walked the seemingly endless 1/4 mile back to my Mazda in a total fugue state and managed to start my car just as the afterdrop kicked in (ugh!).

We spent the next 10 – 15 minutes shivering off the effects of the 43.4F lake (<-- yes, it was much colder in swim) before finally joining Steve at Elly's for breakfast. And let me tell you something - their hot coffee never tasted as good as it did this morning!


December lakefront

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The late autumn crew

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Cedric, Lake Monster 435

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The “cold warriors” at Elly’s

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Swim Report – October 22, 2016 – Bright and Brisk

Since we haven’t yet turned our clocks back, sunrise is around 7:05am these days. This later swim time gives us a bit more sleep which we definitely need to help fortify us from the cooler fall weather.

Fortunately, we got lucky this morning and managed to avoid the overcast skies that appear this time of year. So despite it being a crisp 40F outside, we had lots of sunshine that really helped take the edge off of the 57.0F lake.

Nine of us met out at L1 just before sunrise, and it sure was a spectacular one! We snapped several shots of nature’s show and then suited up in the nippy weather before going out to the lake to warm up.

I was able to do a full mile this time, although the swells were deceptively stronger than last week – particularly on the way back to L1. But the lake definitely hasn’t turned over yet. So we may still have a few weeks left of lake temps above the 50F level.

One can only hope!

Autumn skyline

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The 7:00am crew

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Sunrise sequence

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Peter and Jeff at the beach

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Steve, Lake Monster 433

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Caitlin, Lake Monster 434

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Swim Report – October 15, 2016 – Sub 60F zone

We managed to punch through the 60F ceiling at our last meetup, and I was hoping to get something similar this Saturday. And while the surface temp reading came in at a promising 61F, the in-swim mercury read a solid 59F. So fat chance on reversing this trend anytime soon!

We didn’t have the benefit of a calm and sunny morning this time. But that still did not deter the ten hearty Lake Monsters who showed up at the super late hour of 7:00am to get in an autumn swim. The air temp was around 53F at the lakefront, and it came across a bit nippier thanks to a sustained 5 – 10 mph wind from the southwest. So we wasted little time in preparation and quickly got in the water where it was mercifully warmer!

I was fighting off the beginnings of a head cold, so I only managed to get in just over 1/2 mile this time. But it was still a fantastic swim as the water was quite clear with only a slight swell to contend with.

Because I wasn’t in the water as long as the last few swims, I didn’t have as much of an afterdrop once I got out. Also, I remembered to bring a thermos of hot tea this time – a very wise decision which I shall be repeating from this point forward!

The Autumn crew

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Lake Monster action shots!

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John, Lake Monster 431, hailing all the way from the UK!

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Amber, Lake Monster 432 (congrats!)

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Swim Report – October 8, 2016 – Autumn Chill

I arrived at L1 a bit early as I made good time on the drive south from Evanston. The air was a crisp 46F, but we didn’t have the gusty winds and overcast skies of the last two weeks. So I was very pleased when the lake temp reading came in at 60.2F – a slight surge from the previous week but quite welcome!

I spent a few moments briefing some of the new swimmers, but I had to stop occasionally to check out the magnificent show. As I have written many times in the past, the sunrises in October are arguably the finest of the year, and we sure got a great one Saturday morning!

Just like last week, I did the out-and-back to the beach. But this time I had a curious cormorant accompanying me for part of the way south. Being the quicker and more agile swimmer, he soon lost interest in my slower paced efforts and darted off to more exciting ventures.

By the time I returned to L1, the iridescent October sun was out in full force. So I stayed around and chatted with some of the other swimmers while the bright sunshine helped stave off the afterdrop.

Yet another majestic fall morning that you all missed out on (again)!

Pre-dawn colors

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Sunrise sequence

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Lake Monsters in their element

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The L1 cormorant

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Joseph, Lake Monster 429 (congrats!)

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Frank, Lake Monster 430 (congrats!)

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