Sunday, September 07, 2014

Ohio Street, September 7

Yesterday was Big Shoulders but neither Jody nor I swam it. Neither of us would let the Big Shoulders guys intimidate us into signing up before summer swim season started and we had some confidence that we could do the race. But by then Big Shoulders was closed so we couldn't enter. Given our temperature observation last Sunday and the dire forecasts of 7 foot waves, which we did not find creditable, we weren't exactly sorry we weren't there yesterday. I did briefly talk to Joe who swam the race with his son Kevin and he said it was "fine but wavy". Looking at the results it seems about 900 swimmers did complete the race (2.5 or 5K) which isn't bad. But the times were very slow, so either the course was extra long or the waves were a deterrent.

Today Jody and I did our penance swimming a mile at Ohio St. Jody had stuff to do so we went a bit early. The hypothermia warning level is a total of less than 120 degrees, air and water. According to her car the air was 55 degrees and the sun was just rising so adding no warmth. We didn't find out until we got to the 1/4 mile buoy at Chicago ave that the water was 63.6, so we didn't meet the minimum. But we felt OK so we decided to complete the swim anyway. By the time we got out the air was 60 so we were legal. The water was glass flat at the beach with a small swell and very light chop at the turn. The only bummer was the sun at water level shining directly into my eyes on the way out. But as our friend Heidi showed us at Sharkfest, seeing is overrated for open water. Jody thought it was a great swim but I only give it a very good. Between the sun, some hot coffee and heat in the car we were very comfortable after we got out. We are hoping for a few more swims this summer.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Evanston, August 31

What a difference a day makes, as the saying goes. Yesterday the water felt cool at entry but was actually warm. Today it felt cold and was. The water temperature averaged 67 with much colder water only a foot or so beneath the surface. The difference in location may be as relevant as the strong south west winds the last 24 hours. Fortunately Jody brought her other daughter, Karen, who is quite different physically from Jill. Even though Karen claimed this was her first open water experience she handled it quite well, Jill would have been frozen. Actually with warm air and a nice sun it really wasn't that bad, in fact I would say it was great. The water was mostly flat, by shore even mirror flat, but further out there was a light swell and chop. The water was mostly clear, the bottom was visible most of the way but with an unusual brownish color, possibly sand from yesterday's wind or maybe algae? The latter is unlikely as I would feel much worse now with my algae allergy.

Our swim got off to a ragged start with Karen taking the lead not quite knowing where she was going, me in chase, while Jody went back for her ear plugs which she claims do more than a wet suit to keep her warm. We all met up at the wall and had a lazy swim back enjoying the nice day.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

August 30, Ohio St

Today Jody's daughter Jill joined us. With some waves and even a chance of storm predicted we decided on Ohio St. There was just some gentle rolling chop. Getting in it felt cold but actually it was 74.5 and extremely comfortable once we got started. The buoy's marking the swim area have changed to larger yellow ones. But there are new old style buoys marking off an area near Lake street. When we got to the 1/2 mile dark red buoy near the curve we decided to check out the new area. But we didn't get far, Jody decided the sky was looking menacing so we turned around. In fact what she saw was fog around the 50 floor level of the loop buildings. So alternately we had sun, then fog for the whole swim changing every few minutes. It would have been almost a perfect swim but the high humidity made it hard for me to keep my goggles clear and it was a pain to continually stop and clear them.

Back in the shallow water by the beach I ran into my old friend Charlie who used to be a morning regular at Oakton pool. So we had to catch up a bit. He said I looked well but I have about 3 health/injury issues now and had been thinking how being in the lake nullified all of them. So perhaps being chest deep in water with a cap and goggles on is the best place to meet old friends.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Evanston, August 16

This swim was somewhat unexpected. Weather predictions were dire for this weekend, both storms and cold water, plus I didn't swim at all yesterday due to some intestinal issues. But I felt better and the weather turned out better than predicted so Jody, Joe and I did Evanston. We had 100% sunshine over our swim area, and 72 degree water which was glass flat near the beach and a long low swell with a just a bit of chop elsewhere. Suffice it to say the swim was perfect.

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11 -- Bill Mulliken

We were sorry to hear, by way of his obituary today, of the passing of Bill Mulliken this past July. Besides being an Olympic gold medalist, Bill was a long time Masters swimmer and leader of masters swimming in Illinois. One of his accomplishments was the big Big Shoulders swim. After one of the early Big Shoulders, since they had not gotten participation awards to hand out, Bill brought out a shoe box of various medals he had won in Masters and gave one to any swimmer who wanted one. I took a participation medal from the 1989 Pan Pacific Masters Aquatics games which I still have in my collection.

Although I always looked up to Bill as a senior statesman in Illinois Masters Swimming, he was actually only one age group ahead of me although his times belonged to several age groups below me. He swam a number of Park Ridge 1500's and was always a delightful and positive person to have around. As Bill has limited his swimming activities in recent years we have missed him and we will continue to miss him in the future.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ohio Street, August 9 - Sharkfest

When its warm its warm, the first Sharkfest swim at Ohio street had 75.4 degree water and sunny skies. There was, however quite a bit of chop, at places there was as much as 2 feet worth. Jody and I successfully conducted Heidi through the course. It took a while but we were not quite last. I did feel like I had swum at least 2 miles.

This first Sharksfest in Chicago, according to the organizer the sharks to worry about here are Loan Sharks which is true since Illinois has some of the weakest laws in the country against fringe financial products, attracted 204 swimmers from ages 11 to 75 and was a very low key affair. Perhaps the highlight was the deep dish Connie's pizza which was the reward for finishing. At $60 to $80 a pop I doubt I would have swum it except for Heidi, but it was fun.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Evanston, August 7

Finally the lake breaks the 70's barrier. It was 71.6 today at Evanston, thanks perhaps to a strong easterly wind. Waves, more chop than waves actually, from 1 to 2 feet. Jody has workshop to attend at Northwestern so she is detouring via the Lake on her way. So we arrive a bit early, 6AM to see the end of the sunrise. We swim to the far wall and then right back to the beach and are out by 7. A good swim. Although the bathrooms were open when we got to the beach at 6:30 Tuesday, by Thursday they are still not open by 7, so it is a beach change to get decent followed by finishing dressing at Starbucks for Jody. After a quick grande Pike I drop her off at NU and she hopes to get a ride home from a colleague.