Swim Report – October 1, 2016 – Cracking the Floor

October sure came in like a hellion with overcast skies, three foot swells, and a 59.9F lake. So much for Indian Summer!

An intrepid group of swimmers met out at L1 on Saturday to usher in the new month. Despite the later sunrise and swim start time, it took a while to shake off the sluggishness that accompanies a cooler autumn morning. But we managed to limit our procrastination enough to get in the lake before 7:00am!

The high winds from earlier in the week had churned up the lake to the point that water visibility was near zero. However, we didn’t have any sneaky thermoclines to contend with – just a uniformly cold Lake Michigan. So once we got in, we acclimated pretty quickly.

The swim south to the beach was deceptively easy because the winds from the north had created a current that pushed everyone along. This became quite apparent on the way back as we found ourselves swimming directly into the wave crests. So we had to put in a bit more effort to make it back to L1!

Overall, though, this was a milestone swim in that we finally “cracked the floor” – i.e. broke through the 60F mark. And the way Lake Michigan works, we probably won’t see that again until some time next May!

Skyline at dawn


The morning crew



Oak Street Beach


Peter, Lake Monster 428 (congrats!)


Swim Report – September 24, 2016 – Turbulence

It was a rather raucous morning out at the lakefront on Saturday as Ma Nature gave us some 3 – 4 foot swells and heavy chops. But the 66.5F lake temp made it quite palatable – even while dodging the seaweed obstacle course!

Eleven of us met out at L1 just after 6:30am. As with last week, the overcast skies didn’t give us much of a sunrise to enjoy. However, the lake temperature came in much higher than we expected, and this helped temper the steady wind from the east.

I decided to swim out a bit further from the edge so as to avoid the back and forth “washing machine” churn that you get from the waves ricocheting off of the side wall. But the continual swells kept veering me back, so I had to constantly readjust my swim path. About 100 feet from Oak Street Beach, I did a hard left so I could avoid “Hell’s Corner” and land at the middle of the beach.

Given the more vigorous swim conditions, I decided to do only 1/2 mile and walk back to L1. But I did get back in the lake up there and had a lot of fun playing around in the chops!

Morning chops


Autumn swimmers


Puppy fix for the day


Swim start


Race to the beach!


Shore waves



Courtney, Lake Monster 426 (Congrats!)


Anthony, Lake Monster 427 (Congrats!)


Video in the chops

Swim Report – September 17, 2016 – Last (Official) Meetup of Summer!

Our last meetup of summer 2016 turned out to be one of our best swims thanks to near perfect conditions out at L1!

While it was still a bit overcast at 6:30am, the lake was perfectly flat with aquarium clear conditions – so much so that you could see the ripples in the sand two meters below the surface. We typically don’t get this level of clarity in September, but we had an insidious thermocline moving in to the shoreline. So in exchange for near perfect visibility underwater, we had to put up with a slight chill at various points during the swim.

The surface temperature came in at 66.7F, but the final in-swim reading was 65.0F. There were some pockets of warmth on the way south to Oak Street Beach, but you could really sense the cooler water moving in on the way back!

Unlike prior outings over the last few months, I was actually able to do the entire out-and-back mile this time without any shoulder issues. So a big shout out to Simone and crew over at Athletico for putting up with all my bad jokes for the last 8 weeks!

And as always, if you slept in on Saturday morning, you sure missed out (again!)

Lake Monsters at the swim start


Welcome back Kim!


Hanging out at Oak Street Beach


Shameless selfie


Bettina, Lake Monster 423


Paul, Lake Monster 424


Brock, Lake Monster 425


In-swim video

Swim Report – August 27, 2016 – Late Summer Chops

Five of us met out at L1 on Saturday morning at the tail end of a thunderstorm. There was some lightning on the eastern horizon, so we had to wait a half hour before getting into the water. But we were pleasantly surprised when we did!

The official temperature came at a uniform 66.5F – a significant improvement over earlier in the week. This warmer water made the swells and chops much more tolerable!

I got in just over a 1/4 mile swim before bailing out to walk back. I couldn’t get any sort of rhythm in the chops, and they kept randomly torquing my right arm around – not the best thing for my still ailing shoulder. But given the tumultuous swim conditions, I still got in more than enough of a workout!

A rainy and choppy swim site


Dominic, Lake Monster 421, in town all the way from Australia!


Jenny, Lake Monster 422


Living Colour at the Skokie Backlot Bash later that night (not related to swimming, but you still should have been there anyway!)


Swim Report – August 6, 2016 – Summer Reunion

The dog days of summer always seem to bring out larger crowds – including Lake Monsters who we haven’t seen in a while. And this was most certainly the case on Saturday!

The heat wave from earlier in the week brought the lake temperature up to 74.5F. While this was quite comfortable to swim in, it also came with a trade off – namely higher algae levels. In fact, I am sure that this is what has been causing my post-swim congestion symptoms over the past month or so. Personally, I’d rather have colder water and no allergens – so give me a 55F lake any time over what we get this time of year!

For this swim, I decided to do a 1/2 mile breaststroke to the beach in order to spare my shoulder the stress of an overhead freestyle stroke. This seemed to work out very well, although I was surprised at how much more I used my legs with this stroke (something they reminded me of several hours later)!

We had some 1-3 foot swells that seemed to intensify closer to the beach – especially at “Hell’s Corner.” So the lake was a bit more of a challenge than the mirror flat conditions we had mid-week. But we sure had a great morning out at the old swim site!



Lake Monster gathering




Heading south


At the beach!


Pat, Lake Monster 420 (with returning veteran Heidi, LM 201)


Swim Report – July 30, 2016 – Early Morning Fury

Twas a rough one out at L1 on Saturday morning!

A steady wind from the northeast gave us 3 – 5 foot swells and rather spirited chops, making the swim quite a test to both new and seasoned swimmers. However, the lake came in at a fiery 72F, so the only real challenge was navigating the “washing machine.”

In total, I managed to eek out about 1/4 mile in the chaotic lake. But the balmy water temperatures made it a very pleasant swim nonetheless!

Swim start


Water level shots



Back home!


Clint, Lake Monster 415


Siobhan, Lake Monster 416


Alannah, Lake Monster 417


Joel, Lake Monster 418


Rick, Lake Monster 419


Swim Report – July 23, 2016 – WGN Edition

Saturday morning was a real scorcher, with the air temperature already coming in at a sultry 80F at 4:30am. But that didn’t keep people from making it out to world famous L1!

I had set the meetup time for 5:30am, but sunrise didn’t officially happen until about seven minutes later – and boy was it a magnificent one! So that gave the large and growing crowd of morning swimmers a pleasant distraction along with plenty of time to socialize before getting into the lake.

The surface temperature came in at 68F, but we had some mild thermocline pockets lingering around the shoreline that brought the average in-swim temperature to around 67F (these intensified as the morning progressed, and there were some rather crisp swim conditions by the time I finished my swim clinic a few hours later!).

The swim conditions were ideal – almost perfectly calm with great visibility due to the colder bottom layers. I managed to make it 1/2 mile to the beach before heading back to L1 on foot. By that time, several of the others were just finishing up and re-congregating at our idyllic swim spot.

I spent the next several minutes taking pictures of all the new Lake Monsters and officially incorporating them into the “tribe.” And all our revelry did not go unnoticed. A WGN film crew happened to be out at the lakefront, and they graciously did a quick video spot on us!

Hope to see you out at the lake soon!

The L1 scene at sunrise





Melissa, a triumphant Lake Monster 409!


Sybil, Lake Monster 410


Sean, Lake Monster 411


Melissa, Lake Monster 412


Keith, Lake Monster 413


Adrian, Lake Monster 414


WGN filming the Lake Monsters


Squad 1 at L1


Swim Report – July 16, 2016 – High Summer

After a slight dip in the water temperature earlier in the week, the lake came in at an almost perfect 68F on Saturday morning. And the later swim start time of 5:30am brought more new faces out to L1!

Now that the days are getting shorter, I no longer have to settle for bad coffee since the cool Starbucks on Clark Street is open at 5:00am. When I mentioned this to the workers, they told me that the other Starbucks on Wells was open 24 hours. But we Tauruses are loyal, so I shan’t be switching horses in mid stream any time soon!

I was surprised at the higher turnout at L1. We had a few new swimmers along with some veteran Lake Monsters who have not been out for a while. My guess is that the good weather sparked this uptick in attendance as the 72F air temperature and light humidity made it a perfect morning to be outside – whether one was swimming or not!

As with last week, I started out planning on only doing 1/8 mile or so. But the lake conditions were close to ideal, so I ended up doing about 1/2 mile total. And as the morning went on, several other swimmers began congregating at the lakefront around L1.

Perhaps the word is finally out that we have the best swim spot on the planet?




The view at water


Quentin, Lake Monster 407


Beverly, Lake Monster 408


Everybody in the pool!


Swim Report – July 9, 2016 – Over the Hump

With sunrise taking place at 5:30am these days, we finally got a chance to sleep in a bit now that the days are getting shorter. Fortunately, the water is also getting warmer!

Despite the caterwauling and pearl clutching of all those who insisted that the Saturday morning lakefront was guaranteed to have hurricane-like conditions, the water was actually quite calm. Instead of the forecasted 25mph+ wind gusts, we had a slight breeze from the north that gave us mere 2 to 3 foot swells – hardly anything challenging. And given that the lake temperature came in at a remarkable 70F, I doubt we could have asked for a better outcome!

Given the still nagging issue with my right shoulder, I decided to just do a leisurely swim fairly close to L1. Of course, habit drove me out towards the 1/8 mile point before I turned back and got out of the water. Still feeling restless, I decided to snatch my rescue can and swim out to one of the buoys – also 1/8 mile distance.

So all told, I got in close to a 1/2 mile swim unintentionally – although it was not all at once!

The view east at daybreak


Everyone in the pool!


In-swim shots




Back at L1


Frank, Lake Monster 406 (congrats!)


Swim Report – June 18, 2016 – Goodbye Spring!

The unseasonably hot weather caused the lake temperatures to spike this weekend. Not that we were complaining…

Despite the super early sunrise, we had quite a festive crowd out at L1 at 5:15am. And when I took the lake temperature reading, the mercury came in at a sizzling 67F – much higher than normal for this time of year!

Given the balmy water and calm conditions, the whole crew got in the lake right away and started heading south to Oak Street Beach. I only planned on doing a half mile, but I really didn’t want to turn around at the 1/4 point. So I opted to do a beach landing and combine that with a leisurely 1/2 mile walk back to L1.

As you can see, the weather and water conditions were almost a carbon copy of last week. So if you slept in on Saturday, you really missed out (again)!

Dawn colors



The sunrise scene





Swimmer action shots





Sian, Lake Monster 405, hailing all the way from the UK (congrats!)