Saturday, August 30, 2008

Evanston, August 30

Almost perfect again, air 60, water 72-73, flat and clear. Only a bit of fish smell near the walls kept it from being perfect. Jody, Joe, Sue and I swam. Out and back, two of the four of us are not entered in Big Shoulders so the Cheap Shoulders was scrubbed, at least for today.

Just before we finished two other swimmers appeared out of the lake. One looked ordinary, suit and cap like us, the other guy had a full wet suit with bright pink cap and was trailing a large pink kids inner tube shaped flotation device. They had swum down from Lighthouse beach at the opposite end of Evanston, about three miles. The pink for visibility.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Loyola Beach, August 27

OK, this time not so great. I just found out this morning that Loyola beach is designated as a "Distance Swimming Beach" by the Chicago Park District. Actually the district says Leone Beach but then identifies the course which is better known as Loyola beach, the quarter mile from Pratt pier north to the first breakwater. Since I am thinking of bring my crew down for what we used to call "cheap shoulders", the warmup for upcoming Big Shoulders, I decided to check this out. The guards were aware of the designation, but they wouldn't let me swim the whole way, just about 250 yards between guard towers. And I had to stay on the shore side of the rowboat with the kids. The water was about waist deep. The was a light east wind and 2ft waves, which broke exactly where I was swimming. On the plus side the water was 74 degrees and the sun was out, air a pleasant 76. On this weekday afternoon there was plenty of parking in the lot off of Lunt and the $.25 per half hour meters were reasonable. And there was a restroom, typical of the Chicago Park district, but no shower. The lot was actually fairly far from the beach. But hey, the swim was free and legal so I guess if one of us northsiders is desperate for a lake swim on a summer weekday afternoon this is better than nothing.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Evanston, Saturday August 23

Not perfect, but still pretty damn good. Today Ken, I and new recruit Heidi, hit the water about an hour later than usual. A southwest wind left it calm by the beach but 1 foot wind waves further out. A quick trip out, longer back but not too much trouble. We are not used to seeing other swimmers when we swim so imagine my surprise when I literally bumped into a guy in the middle of the swim. He was surprised too. Sort of a hot and muggy day so the water felt cool but was actually 74 degrees. The overdue August inversion was predicted to hit today north of Milwaukee and working south, but it certainly hasn't hit here yet. It may not hit here at all this year as the wind shifts back to the east early next week.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Evanston, August 18

I have been using all the superlatives I know to describe the Lake this summer, perhaps the only thing left is to say that conditions today were "more perfect"? Joe, Ken, new recruit Jody, and I showed up just as the sun was emerging from the horizon. Water 71 and clear, air high 60's and full sun, light chop away from shore and no breeze. I was the slow man today and as the last to the wall I could hear the others talking but because of the angle of the sun on the water could not find them! They were standing in water up to their necks with only their heads out of the water. I swam along the wall thinking they had gone around to the other side and only after I passed them and looked back at a different angle could I see them. A great swim.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Evanston, August 16

Another great swim, this time just Joe and me. The water was 71 F, there were 1 foot swells left over from yesterdays northeast winds which just made swimming a bit more fun. It was faster coming back than going. Air temp was upper 60's and cloudless sky with the sun rising just over the horizon. It looked like one could swim right to the sun, but we had better sense than to try this.

Swimming the Internet - August 8, 2008

Busy closing out the swimmng Pool and preparing for Olympic Swimming orgy so no lake swim this week. Perhaps some readers have noticed that lately all days have been great to excellent. Is the Lake getting better or are we getting smarter. I think the later. With all the detailed weather data provided by our goverment I can sit in front of my computer 7 miles from the lake and pick out the great days several days in advance. Here is a primer of how you can do it.
  • Go to (thats dot gov, not dot com)
  • Click on Marine under Forecasts on left side menu
  • Click on small US map anywhere
  • Click large US map on Chicago
  • Click on area of Lake you plan to visit (Direct link to here ) for forecast.
  • Back on previous page click the Marine tab. You will get a nice wave height chart for the entire Great Lakes, buttons allow you to scroll forward in time about 30 hours. Direct link here is
  • Place cursor on Lake Michigan on left menu, a submenu will appear, select WindsTemps&Levels you will get several graphics of current conditions. Click on any specific graphic for animated forecasts.
  • Click on Return to LMOFS for more great charts, or direct /lmofs/lmofs.html
Note that the charts in the LMOFS site are computer generated, not direct observations. But I find they are fairly accurate. The secret to a great swim is to avoid winds from the northeast or east.