Swim Report – February 6, 2022 – Slurpee Harbor

Four of us made it out to our backup swim site on Sunday after getting an update that L1 was completely frozen over. I arrived a bit early to scope out the lake, and I was elated to discover some patches of open water with fairly easy entry points. Still, there was some work to do to clear the heavy snow layer out of the way. Fortunately, the others had arrived by then, so we got to work making a pathway to the ladder.

We were interrupted by a rather striking sunrise which created some amazing colors on a cloud bank coming in from the north. As you can see by the pics below, it was quite a show! Also, it distracted us from the 19F air temp and a very biting wind from the south. But duty soon called us, so we geared up and climbed into the water.

We were lucky enough to have a clear swim lane of about 6 feet in width that went all along the side wall. In fact, I was hoping to be able to follow this channel all the way out of the harbor and into an even larger patch of open water on the other side of the breakwall. But alas, it was not meant to be since the ice sheet began to move inward towards the side wall.

Given the rather sudden change in circumstances, we had to accept the fact that a swim workout was not in the cards. So instead, we spent about 15 minutes gingerly navigating through ice sheets, breaking them up so we could get back and forth from the entrance ladder. Not exactly the swim experience we were expecting, but an adventure nonetheless!

Post-swim was pretty brutal as the south wind gnawed away at our exposed fingers as soon as we removed our gloves. So needless to say, we hustled to get into our dry clothes and got back to our heated cars as soon as possible.

Still, even with the more extreme cold conditions, this was one of the more enjoyable and memorable outings to date!

Clearing the path to the swim lane!
Ice Monsters in their element!

Swim Report – January 30, 2022 – Deep Freeze

Getting to the lake was much easier than last Sunday. Even with a colder 17F air temp, it was a breeze to get down to L1 as we had clear skies and no wind or snow. Plus I was able to secure rock star parking just on the other side of the pedestrian walkway – always an added bonus!

The arrival at L1 was bittersweet. The lake was perfectly calm and clear, but L1 was once again inaccessible due to complete encasement by ice. Luckily, I had brought my trusty gear, so we took turns chipping away at L1 to clear an entry point into the lake.

The official water temp came in at 33F – just above freezing. And while it took a while to clear the ladder, we were quite warmed up by the time we donned our swim gear and entered the lake.

Since the conditions were so calm, I reached the 1/8 mile point quite quickly. So I decided to extend my swim to 1/2 mile. However, I ran into an ice sheet just before the 1/4 mile point, and I had to swim under it to get to the open water farther away from the well. Fortunately, the swim lane was unobstructed over there, and I was able to get in my full 1/2 mile by the time I returned to L1.

Post swim was fairly easy, and I had a very mild afterdrop – certainly nothing uncomfortable. But the real treat, as always, was the magnificent show to the east as you can see below!

Swim area at dawn
Skyline reflection
Sunrise sequence
Clearing the swim entry area
Another perfect morning

Swim Report – January 23, 2022 – Remnants of the Storm

I was up very early last Sunday as we were just at the tail end of a significant snow dump. So I needed the extra time to clear off my car and to navigate the snowy streets on the way to L1. Getting to our world famous swim site turned out to be quite the ordeal as the plows hadn’t made much headway in the city – even on the major streets. But I eventually made it to North & Clark and was able to find a spot fairly close by.

When I arrived at L1, it was still snowing – albeit not as heavily. The air temp came in at 22F, and there was a steady wind from the west which I had feared would cause the lake to be quite turbulent. However, the area around L1 quite calm (go figure). Nevertheless, we still had a little issue of lake access – namely, L1 being completely iced over. So after getting the lake temperature, I got to work clearing the area.

Once L1 had been de-iced and the entry to the lake was now clear, I suited up and climbed into the 33F water. It was an easy swim in the placid lake, and I did just under 1/4 mile. I could have swum longer, but I ran into a barrier of ice just before reaching the 1/8 mile point. So I overshot L1 on the way back to get in the full distance.

All in all, another great swim – although most of the work took place before I even got in the water!

Outdoor changing room
L1 on ice
Free and clear!
Glad to be finished!

Swim Report – January 9, 2022 – Skating Rink Edition

The days keep getting longer and brighter, and this morning was no exception. A few hale and hearty Lake Monsters braved the 32.6F lake and 32.0F air in a mostly clear swim area. However, getting into the water proved to be the most arduous task!

The concrete area from the bike path to the lake was one big sheet of ice at 7:00am. What made it particularly challenging was that there is a downward slope going from the bike path – which made this essentially a high speed ramp into the lake. But luckily, I had a length of rope with some fasteners in my trunk. So I attached it to assign bolted into the concrete, and used this to get down to the more level surface by waterfront so I could get a water temperature reading. But alas, my work had just begun…

The area all around L1 – both leading up to it and all along the lakeside – was essentially encased in ice. So I had to spend about 15 minutes hacking away at it with my pickaxe in order to clear a way in and out of the water. Fortunately, I was able to remove enough ice to make swimming possible. And it was certainly worth the effort!

I donned my full winter gear (fullsuit, hood, gloves, booties) and started swimming southwards towards the beach. I acclimated pretty quickly, and probably could have done 1/2 mile without much effort. But we (literally) ran into a barrier of ice floes just past the 1/8 mile point that prevented any further progress. However, that didn’t stop us from exploring!

After much experimentation, we found some sturdier ice floes that allowed us to sit (or stand) on them without breaking through. By then the sun had come out from behind the cloud wall, and it was quite pleasant reclining on ice amidst the bright sunshine. We eventually started our swim back to L1, but I would have liked to have hung out on the ice a bit longer!

L1 on ice
Skating rink
Free and clear!
January skyline (with bonus pickaxe)
Lake Monsters on ice (photo credit – Steve P.)

Swim Report – January 1, 2022 – Happy New Year!

The first day of 2022 seemed like a continuation of the prior month – namely, a dreary and blustery overcast morning the likes of which are more typical of a mid-December morning out at the lake. But ever the optimist, I ventured out to L1 to see if things were a go. Unfortunately, they were not!

We had a continual north by northeast wind that was assaulting the open basin around L1, giving us high volume swells that crested over the top of the ladder. So we opted to punt and head for Montrose Harbor, our favorite alternate swim site during the deep winter months. Lucky for us, the conditions at Montrose were much more favorable. So we suited up and got in the lake.

While we were mostly shielded from the wind and waves by the harbor wall, we still had to contend with a fairly strong current generated by the aforementioned wind. However, it wasn’t strong enough that we couldn’t swim against it – it just made things a bit amusing for us whenever we stopped to tread water and chat.

Overall, the swim went great. I am happy to report that I did not have a glove failure this time around as I was sporting some brand new 5mm neoprene gloves that – unlike my prior pair – were bereft of insidious holes that allowed cold water to mercilessly gush in and turn my left hand into a numb club. The only real challenge was getting out and changing back into our civilian clothes. Unfortunately, the brutal wind had not subsided and hit us as soon as we exited the lake. I guess Old Man Winter really want’s us to know who’s boss!

Alternate swim site
Sharing the pool with the ducks
Happy 2022!

Swim Report – December 19, 2021 – Goodbye Autumn 2021!

We got an unexpected bonus this morning with the lake coming within striking distance of 40F again (38.9F in swim). While not much of a bump from last week, it was still a welcome change from the 30F air temp!

I went with a fullsuit this time and was quite comfortable in the lake, with the exception of the previously cited leak in my left glove which once again froze my hand. However, I was still able to get in 1/2 mile without any difficulties. Plus, I must be almost acclimated to the cold as I didn’t experience any afterdrop this time.

This was our last official autumn meetup given the upcoming winter solstice on Tuesday. So here’s looking forward to another amazing winter swimming season!

Overcast skyline
An obscured sunrise
Lake Monsters enjoying one last autumn swim!

Swim Report – December 12, 2021 – Sub 40F Zone!

We finally broke through the 40F floor with an in-swim lake temp of 38F lake temp – almost at par with the 35F air temp. Even though it was a bit nippier than expected, we had a clear morning with lots of sunshine and a very calm lake. I got in 1/4 mile with my neoprene shorty and was quite comfortable with the exception of a frigid left hand due to a glove leakage. But now I know what’s on my X-mas wish list!

Amazing view to the east!
Lake Monsters in their element!

Swim Report – November 28, 2021 – Fall Turnover Edition

We had a surprisingly great showing of Lake Monsters on a rather bitingly cold (32F air temp) late autumn morning. Perhaps it was the later swim time, but I’m convinced that it’s more of a factor of having a newer group of swimmers who are excited about getting the winter lake experience. And they certainly got a taste of it this morning!

I checked the lake temperature with my new thermometer, and the surface temperature came in at 41F. I took several readings and concluded that the lake had indeed finally turned over since our last meetup on November 14. So I’m expecting that we will likely start seeing lake temps below 40F by our next meetup (fun times!).

I again opted to go with a neoprene shorty and cap, and I was quit comfortable during the swim with the exception of my hands and feet. My hands in particular really took a beating in the 41.6F lake (official in-swim reading), so I limited my swim to 1/4 mile. Bottom line – I shall be donning my gloves and booties going forward!

The saving grace to our swim was that we had a clear morning at 6:45am. As you can see from the pics, we had a great sunrise with abundant sunshine that really helped temper things pre and post swim. And while I still had a bit of an afterdrop, it was actually quite manageable compared with the overcast skies we had during our last outing.

Looking forward to December!

Lake Monsters gathering
Sunrise sequence
A welcome sight!

Swim Report – November 14, 2021 – Grey Dawn

Three of us met out at L1 for our second November swim of 2021. I wasn’t expecting the lake to be that palatable since we had overcast skies and a 37F air temp. But much to my surprise, the lake came in at a scorching 50F – rather higher than I was expecting for this time of year. I managed to get in 1/2 mile, but post-swim was a challenge with a slight drizzle and a biting wind that had reappeared just in time for my afterdrop. But all in all, another great morning the world’s best swmmin’ spot!

Grey Skyline
The L1 changing room and warming station
An obscured sunrise

Swim Report – November 7, 2021 –

Eight of us made it out to L1 at 6:30am just a few minutes before sunrise, and it was another splendid one! While we were admiring Ma Nature’s handiwork, I got a quick reading on the lake temperature which ready just under 52F (51F in swim). The air temperature was a bit more crisp at 48F, but we had clear and sunny skies which took a bit of the edge off of the chill.

I decided to go with a neoprene shorty and cap this time since I had a rather fitful night of sleep thanks to some fussy little ones. Turns out that was a good call, as I was quite comfortable in the lake the entire time. I did my usual 1/2 mile (the long loop version), and hung out with the others for a little while longer in the lake a few meters from L1.

Bottom line, another great swim in a lake that’s still hovering above 50F – at least for now!

Lake Monsters at daybreak
Sunrise sequence
Heading south
Maurice, Lake Monster 534 (congrats!)
Ray, Lake Monster 535 (congrats!)
Post swim