Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ohio Street, Thursday July 24

An unusual weekday noon swim. I occasionally bike down alone to do this but today I came with my friend Heidi. Heidi is completely blind and always has been, but she swims a lot anyway. She has done pool 1500's and is completely independent, no one helps her find the turn or anyway else. She also has done open water swims, such as Alcatraz and Big Shoulders 2.5K with a guide. Her main thing lately is triathlons.

She called me last week because she needed a guide for the upcoming Sharkfest swim. Since I am a little faster than her and had no interest in competing that meet myself ($70 to swim a mile at Ohio St--something I do all the time for free), I agreed to see if this was something I could do. So we settled on today for a trial run. Yesterday I suggested that we postpone the swim since 4ft waves were predicted for the Lake. Of course Ohio street is protected so we would get just bad chop. That might have been a good suggestion but Heidi insisted that chop and waves didn't bother her. One of her BS swims was on a wavy day, so I knew she had a point. So we swam.

The conditions weren't nearly as bad as predicted, cool 64? I didn't check my thermometer. But it was choppy. She said all I needed to do was swim next to her and verbally tell her to turn a bit left or right. But it didn't work out well, she could not hold course in the chop and couldn't hear me or didn't respond so after about 250 yards of swimming away from our planned course near shore I had to get her turned around. The backup plan was to touch her legs, but I actually had to grab her legs and physically turn her. I realized that I did not have the physical ability to do this for a long time so I tried to turn her back to the beach. But she resisted. She is not fast but does have a strong stoke which she will not break to tread water so we can have a discussion. The best I could do is direct her to the wall and from there lead her in.

I was exhausted. Needless to say Sharkfest is no longer on my calendar.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ohio Street, July 19

Today Jody, Joe and I hit Ohio street. At 6:30 AM we find a nice parking spot on Ohio Street near the underpass, free until 8. Swimmers are gathering but no one is in yet. Everyone else has a wetsuit, but we are, as usual do not. It turns out to be a bit below 67 with just a light chop. You can really see the water level increase at the wall, more than a foot higher than last year. A really great swim, Jody and I went to the curve and Joe went all the way to Oak St. Do to a minor equipment issue at the start, we all finish at the same time.

Evanston, Friday, July 18

Jody and I finally decide it is time we hit the Lake. Our friend Joe has already been 7 times. But going into the city on a Friday does not sound like fun. So we go to Evanston. We are prepared for cold, we have our thermal caps, expecting 64 we are pleasantly pleased by 65.5 Actually it feels even a bit warmer because it is cool and cloudy out. There are cold pockets just a few feet below the surface. There is a 6 inch swell and some chop but really not bad. The water level is clearly a lot higher than last year. We do a halfway swim, a good start to the season and plan to be back often in the next few weeks.

Early July

During the weekend of the 4th I was at Lake George in upstate NY. I did get in 3 nice early morning swims, one a long one with my brother who does some open water racing in southern California. Unfortunately the first weekend back was stormy so we didn't make it out.

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 14: A new season starts.

I will probably not be in the Lake until later this summer due to some recent surgery. I am pool swimming but slowly and not far at one time. I hope to be in the Lake mid July.

However Joe, who I have mentioned in the past, will be swimming Big Shoulders with one of his sons this year and, on my recommendation, they did go to Ohio St June 14. It was expected to be 62 and flat, which from Joe's report seems about right. It felt very cold to them, 62 is a lot colder early in the season than later when we are more used to Lake temperatures. But having braved "carmageddon" getting to the loop they pushed onward, swimming to about Chicago ave and back.

Leo, from the past, also went in over the weekend at Beverly Shores IN and reported 62 degrees.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Evanston, October 5

After a week of discouraging forecasts things were looking up last evening. No waves, air 68 and water 64-67 was the forecast. Although we, Jody and I, considered Ohio St, which in retrospect might have been a better choice we picked Evanston since we like that beach better. Arriving at 6:30 we were able to park right by the beach, and since the fences have been moved, walk directly in. It was still fairly dark. Things were not quite as forecast, there were 1-3 foot swells, which was not the problem. The problem was the water was 61.5. That's not really so bad but we have not had the experience with such cold water this year and, in the last two weeks I have been swimming in 80-85 degree indoor pools. The air was plenty warm for this time of year, but without the sun to warm us it felt pretty cold. We debated driving down to Ohio St but didn't want to miss the sunrise which is one of the great features of early morning in Evanston. So in the end we were in the water about 30 minutes but only really swam about 10 of them, and then relatively close to the beach. But we saw the sunrise from the water. And, figuratively, the sunset of our 2013 Lake swimming.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Evanston, September 14

Even though the race is over there is still summer left in Chicago. After a day of high winds and waves but to Jody and me it seemed an interesting morning for a swim. The prediction was for 3ft waves at 5am subsiding to nothing at 8. Not quite true. We did not rush but did get to the Lake around 6:30. The air was about as clear as we have ever seen, high buildings in the loop were clearly visible. We were in time for another spectacular sunrise, in fact it happened twice, first the sun popped out of the water, then it re-emerged from behind some low clouds near the horizon. The evidence on the sand did show that very high waves had been around recently. Perhaps you saw the
pictures of yesterday's water spouts near Kenosha.

The air temp was in the 50's and initially the water felt warm, it was about 67 near the beach but there were areas of 65, especially near the far wall. There were still some 4 foot swells and waves converging in various directions. But overall swimming was pretty good and we were even able to touch the far wall without difficulty. We took our time this morning and paused various places to test the currents, which were present but fairly random. We tried to find the eddy by the end of the near wall but it was not present, only a mild southward current. The waves did subside somewhat during our swim but Jody did get a few rides on incoming waves.

We may try again but if this is the end it was a glorious end.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Big Shoulders September 7

For one of the few times in its 23 year history the Big Shoulders swim took place on an ideal Lake day, water 70 air 80 and light winds. Except for a brief time, about 1.5 hours into the swim when it clouded over and even rained a little on the spectators, the water was flat. During the rain episode the back stretch did get a bit choppy. Otherwise a rather routine swim.

The next day would have been more interesting with reported large waves on the Lake. But only your correspondent would have really welcomed that outcome for the competitive advantage he would have had.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Evanston September 6

We planned to swim Tuesday and Thursday but Jody returned from her Labor day vacation with a cold and the swimming conditions were not good for Evanston anyway. She's better, conditions not so much but enough for a quick swim just to loosen up for tomorrow's race. We got to the Lake the same time as last week but it was noticeably darker, just a red glow to the east. Light enough to see that the water was still pretty rough. Jody was ready to go right home but when we realized the water was fairly warm, 70, she decided to swim. The outbound (northbound) swim was fairly easy, we went past the halfway mark and decided that it was far enough for today. It did not seem at all windy but a moderate south wind had been predicted and that was enough to make the return swim much more difficult, now we noticed the chop on top of the 2.5 foot swells. We did stop and tread water, or at least I did -- Jody floats, and watch the sunrise. Being out in the Lake is like having front row seats, only the waves kept standing up in front of us. After terribly long preliminaries the sun suddenly popped out of the water like a beach ball. Awesome. A fun swim after all.