After being essentially confined to a small patch of open water for most of the month, we finally got some help from a warm spell and a vigorous west wind. Still, yesterday’s swim wasn’t without its challenges…
The days are getting longer and the snowdrops are already peeking through the soil. But for us at OWC, one of the leading indicators of Spring is when the lake starts to shed its “winter layer,” a murky, greenish-gray topping that forms around early December after the fall turnover. Basically, when the lake surface or outside temperature starts to flirt with 39F and above, it triggers the appearance of the deeper, clear layer of water in the lake – which is also at 39F (give or take a degree or so). When this water starts to mix up with the upper winter layer, not only does swim visibility gets much better, but it sends a clear signal (pun intended) that Old Man Winter’s days are numbered (hooray!).
Anyhow, I wasn’t too optimistic going out to the lake as I could see and hear the heavy, sustained wind gusts during my drive down to our swim spot. But since the wind was coming from the west, it wasn’t generating high waves at the shoreline. Conversely, it was pushing out all the ice that has stubbornly clung to the lakefront, giving us an open swim lane to play in. So other than a somewhat brisk but manageable westward current, we were good to go as far as lake access!
As in previous weeks, I wore a fullsuit along with the accompanying neoprene gloves, hood, and booties. While I was feeling much better than earlier this month, I didn’t want to over stress my system which was still working overtime to regain my lost endurance. And this turned out to be a good decision as I was able to get in about 1/8 mile total in the 33.8F lake without feeling fatigued. However, Ma Nature did throw us a couple of curve balls in-swim.
Despite a much less congested swim area, there were still some fairly large ice floes all around our swim area that required constant dodging – or which resulted in the occasional unplanned bonking of one’s noggin. So we ended up doing a roughly triangular route until the wind direction changed and redirected all the ice floes on a direct path towards our swim entry/exit point. When that happened, we took it as a sign that the lake gods had had enough of our challenges to their domain and promptly exited the water.
Overall, a very pleasant way to finish out our last meetup of February!