Swim Report – March 1, 2020 – Late Winter Chops

The good news (it’s all good news) is that the lake temperature seems to have bottomed out and is now on the rise (albeit slowly). The in-swim mercury came in at 34.0F on the nose, a slight increase over the past few weeks. But the increasing daylight seems to be nudging Lake Michigan higher – or at least preventing a relapse.

I got out to L1 just before sunrise, and there was a brisk wind from the south that produced some lively chops. But the swells were fairly low volume, so I decided to go with a neoprene shorty versus a fullsuit. The first 3-4 minutes of the swim were somewhat painful on my exposed forearms and lower legs, but I acclimated quickly and managed to get in just over 1/3 mile.

Getting in and out at L1 was a bit tricky as the area leading to the lakefront was a sheet of ice on a decline. But that was the most challenging part of the swim – not the actual water conditions themselves! Regarding the latter, I could tell during the swim that we still have the “winter layer” in place. This is the colder top layer that forms in late November that typically has a murky green-gray color. Once the lake turns over in April, we start to get more clear water from below.

Given my scaled back swim attire, I had a bit of an afterdrop post-swim, but it was gone by the time I reached my parked car. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to seeing the lake punch through the 40F ceiling soon!

Late winter skyline
Sunrise sequence!

2 Comments

  1. Delta
    March 2, 2020

    Hey Steve, at what temp do you typically forgo the cap and booties, and just wear your wetsuit? Is it around the 40F ceiling you’re talking about? I’m interested in joining for cold swims but I don’t have those items.

    • Steve
      March 5, 2020

      I’ve been able to go with just a neoprene cap and swim jammers as low as 45F. Below that to about 40F, I can go for short distances in that same setup but with gloves and booties. Below 40F, I go full neoprene – or a neoprene shorty with all the peripheral gear.


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