Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evanston, September 26

Is this the end? My reading of the forecast is that the rain will end but the east wind will hold off until later in the morning. I got one right, the rain was gone long before Ken and I got to the beach early this morning. But the east wind was already well established. The waves did not look that bad, but the water was cold. It turns out that water temperature was only 61 with a 54 F air temperature. Of course no wetsuits, and Ken only has an ordinary cap. So we did a quick out and back swim, more because of the cold than the waves. We were most aware of the waves coming back as they gave us a real boost. We even got a couple of unintentional rides. Total trip: 10.5 minutes by Ken's watch.

There is nothing in the forecast to make me think it will get any better, so this is probably it for the season. Actually we made it almost all the way through September, so thats not bad.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Evanston, September 21

Joe, Ken and I arrived early again, hoping to repeat our swim of Wednesday. We were hoping for as nice a swim, but an east wind yesterday left residual small waves (about a foot). On top of that a south wind was developing, leaving chop on top of the waves. Although the sky overhead was clear there were low clouds over the lake keeping the sunrise from being visible. When we got in it was really quite dark. This made for a somewhat difficult swim, in particular it was difficult swimming straight. The water and air temperatures were about the same however, 66 and 69 F respectively.

The three of us often pool swim together outdoors in the morning during the summer. Overall we are fairly compatible, but I have different speeds for different distances, I am fastest at the sprints and slowest at distances, Ken is sort of in the middle whereas Joe has one speed, which leaves him last in sprints but first in distance, which we don't do much of together in the pool. This and the fact that Joe peeled off to swim near the beach last time kept us from realizing that Joe is actually a natural open water swimmer. His somewhat wide stroke which looks awkward in the pool actually helps him in water like today. And we forget that Joe has a fair amount of California ocean swimming experience. So today when he peeled off towards shore midway on our outbound leg we assumed he was heading back. Imagine our suprise when we got to the wall and found him waiting for us. This happened again on the way back. We have renewed respect for his abilities.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Evanston, September 19

This morning early I am back at the beach with Joe and Ken. Parking is a bit tough that early but we found places for our three cars -- we were going our separate ways after the swim. It was light enough but the sun was not actually up when we got in the water. A predicted light rainshower had gone north leaving only some patchy high clouds in the sky, the wind was still blowing from the south west, but as yesterday the area appeared a bit choppy but waveless. The air was about 71 degrees. Unlike yesterday the water temperature was only 65, a bit nippy to get in, none of us use wetsuits, but quite comfortable once we were on our way. Soon after we got under way Joe, the least experienced of us, became uncomfortable with our route to the far corner of the wall, waved goodby and returned to, presumably, swim by the beach. Ken and I continued on to the wall. As we swam the sun came up out of the water. This is always a moving experience as one realizes that one is the last person for the next 90 million miles to the sun. After touching the wall, to make it official, if not quite legal, we swam back all the way to the near wall. Swimming upwind was rougher, it never ceases to amaze me how different the surface appears to be depending on the direction one is swimming. We figured that by now Joe had gone to work but were surprised to see a swimmer with Joe's unique stroke swimming towards us from the direction of the wall. Joe had attempted to swim out and meet us coming back, but had not found us due to the fact that we were much further out than him. The washrooms are closed now during the week, but the shower is still on so Joe and Ken showered as best they could and then went to work. I went home for breakfast. A great late season swim!

Evanston, September 18

Official swim season is over and the guards are gone, so the beaches are ours. Just stopped by on the way home from work to check the water temperature, I had heard conflicting reports. I expected serious wave action but with the wind direction from the south west there were no visible significant waves in view. Just by chance my old swim partner, Mike, was just getting in the water. I was upset that I hadn't brought my swim stuff so I couldn't go with him. So I talked to his wife, enjoying the first warm sunny day in a while, and then took a reading near shore -- 69 F! I'll have to bring my current swim partners back tomorrow.

I recently got an email from a swimmer who reads this blog, someone I don't know, who was arrested for swimming off of a Chicago beach when guards were not present. My understanding is that this swimmer went in as it was getting dark in the evening and swam away from the entry beach. Apparently some citizen became concerned, or wanted to make some trouble, and called the police about a swimmer in distress. When the swimmer returned to the beach to find out why police and rescue vehicles were there, the swimmer was apparently arrested for not actually being in distress.

Of course, this is one of the hazards of lake swimming. As we were told in school it is better to not swim alone, i.e. swim where others are swimming, not necessarily with them, so you won't be singled out. Also remain reasonably visible from shore so that casual observers will see that you know what you are doing and won't try to rescue you. My guess is that normally a real swimmer violating the posted "No Swimming" signs will at most get a lecture, but I can see the police being pissed about bringing out the rescue squad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ohio Street, September 12

No big shoulders for me this year due to family business out east. Today is a beautiful fall-like day so a bike ride down the lake front to Ohio Street was in order. A stiff wind from the northwest made the trip down lake like biking downhill - I was in essentially the highest gear. Coming back I was in a gear normally used only when riding uphill. No one was in the water, the few people on any of the beaches were warmly dressed, only one brave woman at Oak Street was sunbathing in a bikini. I did wade in long enough to get a temperature reading, the water was 66 and moderately wavy for Ohio street. It was certainly swimmable and I probably would have gone in had there been other swimmers. But given the 60 air temperature and the hassle of beach change, locking up my stuff and then reversing the process after the swim, I decided getting to my favorite sushi restaurant during lunch hour was higher priority than swimming.