Swim Report – July 28, 2019 – Thermidor Edition

Sunday’s mercury topped out at 92F in the afternoon which was hell on earth for me when I was outside trimming trees. But fortunately everything was absolute nirvana out at the lake at 5:40am!

These shorter days and later sunrises drew out more people last weekend – including some new faces as well as some low number Lake Monsters who we haven’t seen in quite some time. So there was much more socializing while the sun rose, and I didn’t get in the lake until just before 6:00am. But the lake conditions were perfect and unchanging, so none of this summer-induced procrastination really mattered.

The official in-swim lake temperature came in at 70.2F, so it was a very comfortable swim to Oak Street Beach. Of course, it also helped that the lake was mirror flat! The only real glitch in the morning was the presence of a colder thermocline layer that lurked below the surface at various points of the swim. In fact, this cold menace seemed to prefer the area around L1, so we had a difference of around 10F in some areas just a few feet below the surface. And you were sure to get an ice cream headache if you dared to swim to the bottom of the lake in these spots!

By the time I finished my leisurely walk back to L1, the air temperature had hit the 75F mark, and I could already feel the sun’s intensity increasing. So I packed up my stuff, said so long to the “sunrise crew”, and started working my way north where the joys of yard work awaited me. But at least I got to experience the best part of the day!

L1 pre-sunrise
The morning crew
Launch point
Paradise at 6:00am
Amy, Lake Monster 517 (congrats!)
Melissa, Lake Monster 518 (congrats!)

Swim Report – July 21, 2019 – Storm Delay

Things weren’t looking too promising at 5:30am on Sunday. But fortunately our patience paid off!

I saw it as a good omen that I was able to secure rock star parking at the end of North Avenue – right near the pedestrian underpass. But I was a bit apprehensive as I could see flashes of lightning as I was pulling into the spot – not a good sign. So I made the quick trajet to L1 the scope out the scene.

Other than the t-storm activity, the lakefront was almost as good as it gets – we only had slight swells, and the lake temperature came in at a cooler but actually more favorable 63.8F. We checked the weather radar, and there was a storm system passing to the north of us with a trailing edge that was impacting us farther south. So we played the waiting game for about an hour until we no longer saw any new flashes.

When we finally started our swim, the swells had picked up a bit making entry a challenge. So we carefully navigated the slick concrete and opted to swim a bit closer to the side wall so we could get out quickly in the event the thunder and lightning reappeared.

Lucky for us, the storm had completely passed L1, so we were able to complete our swim unimpeded. I did 1/2 mile total – an out and back tot he 1/4 mile mark – and the water was quite comfortable even with the overcast skies. So if you decided to sleep in because of the storms, you missed out on a great swim!

L1 and the skyline at 5:30am
Still looking sketchy at 6:00am!
The lightning ceases and fog moves in
Teri, Lake Monster 516 (congrats!)

Swim Report – June 30, 2019 – Summer!

Even with the 5:18am sunrise/swim start time, we had a sizable group show up for our first official OWC meetup of Summer 2019. The lake temp came in at 64.8F – pretty much as good as it gets. Plus we had plenty of sunshine and clear skies which was most certainly NOT the case later on in the day! Overall, another perfect morning out at the lake. I’ll keep this really short and let the photos below speak for themselves!

High water level at L1!
Amazing backdrop for a swim!
Heading towards the beach!
Swim finish!
Travis, Lake Monster 514 (congrats!)
Justin, Lake Monster 515 (congrats!)
Another perfect morning at our world famous swim spot!

Swim Report – June 9, 2019 – 60F+!

After a couple of weeks where we were agonizingly close to 60F, we finally broke through that ceiling and enjoyed a 5:15am swim in some refreshingly warmer water!

Five of us made it out to L1 just before sunrise – although there really was no show to the east due to the grey, overcast skies. But despite the lack of sunshine, the lake gave us a break, coming in at a very pleasant in-swim reading of 62.4F. So we wasted little time starting our swim.

The initial entry was slightly bracing, but nowhere near what it had been just a few short weeks ago. I went in with just my jammers, cap, and goggles, and was able to do 1/2 mile without any discomfort. In fact, I made the call at the 1/4 mile mark to continue swimming and make my first beach landing of the year (yay!).

After exiting the water at Oak Street Beach, I did a quick jog back to L1 to stave off the slight afterdrop that was trying to make its grand entrance. Fortunately, that worked perfectly – although it is quite obvious today that I have neglected my running muscles!

While I’m looking forward to summer, I have to say that I much prefer these lake temperatures over anything higher. This is because once the mercury rises inside and outside of the lake, we get more algae, more boat fuel, and more garbage thanks to all the yahoos that descend upon the lakefront like a plague of locusts. Funny how we never have to deal with that in January!

The 5:15am crew
In-swim shot
Beach landing!
Will, Lake Monster 513 (congrats!)

Swim Report – June 2, 2019 – Happy June!

Another quick (and late) report. All the storms from last week kept the lake temperature below the 60F level – but just barely. The in-swim mercury read 58.3F, and this was easily tempered by an almost 60F air temperature and a blazing sun from the east. As you can see from the pics, that didn’t stop several Lake Monsters from coming out at 5:15am to celebrate another perfect morning!

Gearing up
Swim start!
Sunrise at water level
Skyline in-swim
Home stretch!
Caroline, Lake Monster 512, hailing all the way from the UK (congrats!)

Swim Report – April 21, 2019 – Happy Easter!

I’ve had some amazing mornings out at the lakefront, but this past Easter Sunday was certainly one for the ages. Not only did we get an absolutely amazing sunrise, but we got to swim in a wonderfully calm lake that almost broke the 50F ceiling. So the Spring Turnover has definitely arrived at our world famous swim site!

I set my alarm to wake up extra early on Sunday to give me enough time to do all my pre-swim prep and still make it out to the lake for the 6:00am sunrise. As it turned out, I made really good time and was out at L1 by 5:45am. And I’m glad I got there earlier, as the show to the east was already starting!

Apart from a small cluster of light and wispy clouds, we had a bright and clear morning with some amazing pre-dawn colors which were already making their appearance on the eastern horizon. After capturing several images, I took the surface temperature of the lake which came in at a very inviting 48.6F – almost at the coveted 50F mark!

Several other swimmers arrived just as the sun made its magnificent grand entrance. We delayed our swim start for a while and took in the splendor while enjoying the masterful serenading of a cellist who happened to be celebrating the morning out by the Chess Pavilion. Gotta love L1!

With the clear skies and the intense and abundant sunshine, I decided to forego all neoprene and just go with my jammers, goggles, and swim cap – something I have not done since early November. The initial entry was a bit bracing, but I acclimated quickly and soon found my swim groove. I did a brisk 1/4 in total, but I was never in any discomfort while in the lake.

I had a bit of an afterdrop post-swim, but the now blazing sun from the east helped minimize the duration and intensity of it. So I am happy to report that I will now be packing away all my winter gear into storage for many, many months to come!

Dawn colors
Easter sunrise!
Lake Monsters gathering
Group shot pre-swim (photo credit: Joe Agnew)
Swim Start
Selfie at swim finish
Sue and Gus, Lake Monsters 510 and 511 respectively,
hailing all the way from the UK (congrats!)
Bach cello suite at the Chess Pavilion

Swim Report – November 11, 2018 – Fall Turnover Edition

The idyllic swim outings of summer are now a mere distant memory with Old Man Winter threatening to push aside autumn and stake his claim early this year. Indeed, we weren’t expecting the lake to come in at 45F until later this month – but we really don’t have a choice in the matter!

While we lucked out with a mostly calm lake, the cold front of the last few days seemed to hasten the fall turnover a bit. Nevertheless, we go with what we have at the time, so we did our pre-swim prep and got in an unexpectedly chilly Lake Michigan!

I went in with just my jammers and neoprene cap this time. I had an extra layer of shea butter on my core which really made a difference in the lake. However, I was really feeling the impact of the cold water on my hands and feed by the 1/4 mile mark. Still, I managed to get in my 1/2 mile in a fair amount of comfort – although I did make a rapid exit from the swim site to the welcome sanctuary of my heated car.

Another great morning out at the ole swim site!

A rather telling scene in the pedestrian tunnel

A brief but glorious sunrise

Dan, Lake Monster 509 (congrats!)

Swim Report – October 13, 2018 – Autumn Chill

A very brief report…

A surprisingly large group of swimmers showed up at L1 on Saturday morning despite the 37.0F air temperature. But luckily for all of us, the lake temp came in at a blazing 60.6F!

I went in with just my jammers, goggles, and neoprene cap. I probably could have ditched the latter, but it did help stave off the chill from the air while in swim. still, I managed to get in 1/2 mile without any difficulties.

Wish you could have made it out!

October sunrise

In swim shots

AJ, Lake Monster 508 (congrats!)

Swim Report – September 23, 2018 – Happy Autumn 2018!

The first day of autumn gave us great swimming conditions – and we took full advantage of them!

Daylight is officially shorter than darkness right now, and we’re starting to really feel it in the morning. It was a bit crisp when I left the house yesterday at daybreak, but we fortunately had a clear and windless morning. Still, I could see my breath going out to the car, so Jack Frost will soon be making his presence known to all of us sunrise swimmers.

The lake had calmed down considerably from Saturday. Our world famous swim area had some small swells, but these were more than manageable. The great news was that the surface temperature came in at 69.6F. We may have cracked the 70F floor, but we’re still within the margin of error!

As usual, we delayed our swim start a while as we took in yet another amazing Great Lakes sunrise. But we soon got antsy to get started, and we all got in the lake and headed for the beach!

I did my usual point-to-point to the beach with a leisurely walk back. The lakefront was almost completely abandoned – even the runners were largely absent – so we had a perfect morning mostly to ourselves.

Happy Autumn!

Dawn colors

First sunrise of autumn

The pool is still open!

Wayne, Lake Monster 506 (congrats!)

Marieke, Lake Monster 507, hailing all the way from New Zealand! (congrats!)

Sunrise swim video

Swim Report – September 15, 2018 – Late Summer Bliss

I was MIA last weekend thanks to getting zapped by a norovirus courtesy of Hurricane Joseph. But it looks like I didn’t miss out on anything as the lakefront, by all accounts, was an unmitigated disaster.

Fortunately, though, we more than made up for it this morning!

A short while after getting my mandatory java at the Devon/Sheridan Starbucks, I reached the endpoint of Hollywood and turned south onto Lake Shore Drive. It was just after 6:00am, and I could see clear skies and a very calm lake. So I knew that we were in for another epic swim!

Parking was a nightmare all around Old Town as there was yet another overpriced and overpopulated 5K race setting up in Lincoln Park. But I managed to snag a spot on Clark and hustled east to L1.

The first thing I noticed was a much less cluttered lakefront as all the expansion work on the multi-use path seems to have been completed (thank God). So instead of a hectic vibe from all the workers and vehicles, we had a nice, tranquil setting out at the world’s best swim spot!

The lake temperature came in at 71.4F, which proved to be uniform in-swim. So we all celebrated that good news while taking in yet another magnificent sunrise.

My endurance was somewhat compromised by some residual malaise from last week’s illness. But since the lake conditions were so ideal, I was able to do a 1/2 mile without too much exertion.

But I still took my jolly time in the water!

Dawn colors

Sunrise sequence

Swim start

Dharti, Lake Monster 505 (congrats!)