Friday, September 26, 2008

Evanston, September 26

Conditions were forecast to be ideal for a late season swim. Water in high 60's and perfectly flat. I did not believe the forecast, for one thing warm and flat rarely occur together except during the height of summer. I was more confident of "flat" than "warm" but the only thing I was correct on was that we would not have both. It was warm, 68 degrees, but not close to flat. There were 2 foot waves which must have been left over from earlier winds because the wind was perfectly calm. But these were not just swells, although they were not mean wind driven waves either.

We, Joe, Ken and I, arrived well before the sun was up. The far wall was outlined by the lights of the Northwestern campus. Being clear I brought my darker sunny weather goggles, this was a little mistake but I could see well enough. The sun finally appeared over the horizon about the time we hit the far wall. Overall this swim would rate as "good" any day of the season, but for this late it was fantastic. The forecast does not look promising for next week, but we are very tempted to try for October.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Evanston, September 20

Our swim last weekend was postponed due to pacific tropical storm Lowell and hurricane Ike which dumped lots of water on our area. Much of that water found its way into the Lake in the form of sewage. Also many of us, myself in particular, were occupied with storm cleanup.

I probably would have just let the season end but Joe wanted to go again, so, there being no other volunteers, he and I went. We got to the Lake before the sun was actually up, although it was light enough to swim. So we were favored by a nice sunrise. The air was cool but the Lake was still 66 which is warm for this time of year. It was calm near shore with only some 2 inch back waves, i.e. waves opposite the wind direction. Further out were some ripples and by the wall there were some actual 1ft waves, but they were pretty harmless. Overall we couldn't have hoped for better conditions.

Is this the end? Maybe, but stay tuned another week.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Evanston, September 12

As the season winds down we want to take advantage of any opportunity to swim. Yesterday afternoon when it became apparent that the predicted storms for this morning would be at worst a light rain, I hastily called a swim. Joe and Ken responded favorably. The predictions were right on, a light drizzle with air 70 degrees, which is about 10 degrees warmer than recent early morning temperatures. The water was almost flat with some surface ripples and some lazy long 6inch swells. And it was still 68 degrees, which may not last given the current westerly winds. It was an uneventful swim, but something worth savoring this late in the season.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Big Shoulders, Ohio Street, Sept 6

This year I was joined at Big Shoulders by lake crew members Heidi, Sue, Ellen and Ken, as well as fellow morning pool swimmers Leo, Paul and Charlie. In addition my daughter Tammy flew in from out of town just to swim. The system that blew in Wednesday brought waves, rain and cool weather to Chicago, it was on its way out today. The entire Lake was completely flat this morning, if one believes the site, a very rare occurrence. That was certainly true here. But the computer prediction of water temperature failed for this spot, which being enclosed probably deviates from the model. The model said to expect 73 degrees but when I tested the water before the race my trusty watch thermometer said 68. I had trouble believing that because it did not feel that cool to me. Charlie, who is sensitive to cold estimated 72 while Leo, who loves cold said the water was warm. And there was a little girl lying in shallow water up to her neck saying the water felt good when she got used to it. So I lied and reported 70 to my crew. The air was cool, in the 60s but with a nice sun only occasionally broken by scattered clouds.

After the race most of us guys said the water was fine and the conditions were better than average for the race. The ladies were of a different opinion. Both Heidi, who originally registered as a wetsuit swimmer but changed her mind earlier this week, and Tammy, who did wear a wetsuit came out of the water with hypothermia symptoms. In Tammy's case after some immediate attempts at warming treatment she had a choice of reporting to the hypothermia tent or having a beer with Heidi and Ken. She chose the latter and that seemed effective.

There were two issues. One was floating seaweed, both on the first leg with small annoying but easily disposable strands but also on the final leg along the wall. Here there were huge clumps and if you accidentally swam into one it was hard to extract yourself. The T-shirt was controversial, I thought it was amusing but most of the contestants did not appreciate the joke.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Evanston, September 3

Joe and I went to Evanston early so I could have one more Lake swim before Big Shoulders. The forecast called for rain, no thunder, and warm flat water deteriorating rapidly as the day went on. But the front expected to pass while we were in the water came through early so it was dry with broken clouds and becoming wavy. It became noticeably wavier as we swam with a northeast breeze, probably comparable to Monday. But opposite Monday's swim it was a hard swim out and easier, swim back. The water was cooler than expected, only about 73 which was also the air temperature, but that felt very good to us. Strangely, both Monday and today, even with the waves the water was very clear.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Evanston, Labor Day

I took a big crew down for a Labor Day swim / Big Shoulders warmup, Ken, Heidi, Ellen (first time here for her, but she is a Big Shoulders veteran), Jody and your faithful correspondent. The conditions were not the best, a southeast wind pattern has been sitting over the area for a while produced a combination of swells, wind waves, and near the far wall, chop. The waves were only a foot or so and didn't look that bad from the beach, but the view is different when your head is in the water and your eye level is about 2 inches above the surface. Those 1 to 2 foot waves can look pretty big, especially as we have enjoyed mostly flat conditions so far this season. But the sky was sunny, air a bit cool but warming towards a hot day, and the water the warmest we have seen this season, 75 near the wall, 74 by the beach. It was a hard swim back, according to Ken it took us an extra 5 minutes for the round trip but this could be because having 5 people we chatted a bit more than usual by the far wall. Also this swim was not official as the conditions prevented us from actually touching the wall, we stopped about 10 yards out.