Sunday, August 29, 2010

Evanston, August 29

Today Joe, Ken, Stuart and Sue joined Jody and me for a repeat of yesterday's swim. The pleasant surprise was that the water was warmer, rather than colder, a fairly consistent 72.6 throughout our swim. The national weather service prediction was for around 66. The air temperatures were also much warmer but this was offset by it being partly cloudy. The wind was a bit more noticeable and some of us noticed more currents in the area than usual. Overall, however, it was a very pleasant swim enjoyed by all.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Evanston, August 28

Jody and I came to Evanston this morning and did the full wall to wall. Parking was tight, we found a place on Sheridan. The air was cool, 61, but the sun was out. The wind was supposed to be from the south at 5 to 10 mph but seemed to be absent at the beach, although maybe 5 further out. The water was fairly flat near the beach, only a few small trochoidal waves (see the bottom of this link). But out farther and near the far wall there were 1 foot swells, but not all that hard to swim. The water was a uniform 70, it felt cool starting but we didn't want to get out at the end. But coffee was calling. One advantage to Evanston is that the sun hits the outside tables at the Main and Chicago Starbucks so it is much warmer after a cool swim.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chicago far Northside, August 27

Today I went for a mid day bike ride to check out lake conditions. The upside of last weeks north wind is that now the entire south end of the lake is warm. I was hoping our Evanston beach would be "closed" at least during the week by now, as has happened in past years, but the guards were all set up to take money and make sure we did not get deeper than our nipples. In spite of a strong southwest wind the lake was mostly flat with very small swells and some minor chop. It looked nice. I headed south into Chicago. The Chicago guards were not yet officially out but on their way to their beaches, which means no swimming, even in shallow water. I crashed a private beach where others were wading and playing with dogs, then waded in up to my nipples to get the temperature. No fewer than 3 Chicago police cars drove by and looked at me in the 10 minutes it took to get a good reading, but all stayed in their cars and drove on. There was a guard at a beach near us and he stared at me but did nothing. It was 74.6 degrees and felt nice. But I did not attempt a swim as that would really attract attention. It looks like this weather pattern will be with us through the weekend, so good swimming ahead.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ohio Street, August 22

Today Ohio Street hit us with everything it had, and we survived. When Stuart and Ken arrived at my house, Ken remarked what a beautiful morning it was to go to Evanston, clear skies, 70 degrees and light breeze. I overruled him, pointing out that there was a rip tide alert for the lower 1/4th of the lake and Milwaukee already was reporting 4ft waves, with these expected in the Chicago area a little later this morning accompanied by 15-20mph north winds. Evanston might be unswimmable. We had no trouble getting to Ohio St and parked right by the pedestrian underpass to the beach. Already as we were getting stuff in and out of the car we could feel the strong wind even though we were behind the humongous new building where a vacant lot had been for years. At the beach we could see low breaking waves by the beach, lots of chop and random 2ft waves farther out. The water by the beach seemed to be comfortable enough, we argued 66 or 68? There were fewer swimmers than we would have expected a week before the triathlon but more than expected without wet suits. We waited in the water for Sue, but finally decided to get started without her. Needless to say the swim out was hard, but in addition to the wind and incoming current the farther we went the colder the water became. By the time we turned around at the far red bouy I looked at my watch and it seemed to say 62.4 degrees, but was hard to read bouncing in the surf. That turned out to be consistent with later readings. As we were treading water we could see ourselves floating towards Ohio St beach, if it was 20 degrees warmer we might have tried floating back. Out this far there was not a single other swimmer. On the way back, which was much easier, I looked at my watch temperature several times and it was rising as we swam, with a temperature of 66.7 back at the beach. By then that felt warm and the swim did not seem as bad as it seemed at the other end. By now there were lots of wet suiters in the water near the beach.

As we finished we saw Erin coming in. She told us Sue had sent her regrets by text message. Erin had been a bit late and was finishing a solo half swim. She eagerly joined us for hot coffee. Outside of the freezing cold Starbucks Ken was still shivering so I gave him my jacket that I had brought especially for the trip through Starbucks. He wore it all the way home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Evanston, August 19

Today Jody and I went to Evanston, my first visit there this summer. No real changes although at 6:30 parking was still tough. The Lake level seems the same but there is a lot of new sand and water depths seem shallower, for example the marked swim area is now only waist deep everywhere. Conditions were ideal. The water temperature was 68.7 and, unlike last week at Ohio St fairly consistent throughout the swim and also by depth. The water was flat by the beach but 1 foot waves by the far wall. There was no obvious wind but apparently there had been some from the south east recently. It was sunny and the water was clear. We did the wall-to-wall swim and felt great. Once again we were reminded why open water swimming is so much superior to a pool and why Evanston is, when conditions are right, so much superior to Ohio St.

I do have a new temperature watch, a Casio fishing gear, Timex no longer supports the reef gear. It seems that I am getting comparable temperatures on the new watch but I can now report to the tenth of a degree, which probably is not meaningful, except that, for example, today's reading of 68.7 means that we actually saw temperatures of 68 and 69 at various times. An added feature is that the watch beeps when it thinks it is an ideal time to go fishing. I don't fish, but I can daydream about what it would be like fishing on the Lake instead of doing whatever it is that I am doing.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ohio Street, August 15, 2010

It is strange that today was my first official Lake swim of the year. We, Ken, Jody and I, left my place at 6 AM on a Sunday morning getting stuck on the Kennedy expressway in construction for about 30 minutes. But even close to 7AM parking was again plentiful on Ohio Street by the underpass, just like many years ago. We thank Mayor Daley and his ill fated parking meter sale for this, as well as completion of the humongous new condo building on the formerly vacant lot at the east end of Ohio St. Possibly in this economy no one lives there. At least no one who would want to park on the street at 7AM on a Sunday at $2 an hour. The beach was crowded with swimmers, most with wetsuits, where did they park? From the look of it many rode bikes.

We met Sue and Erin, our newest member, at the beach. Sue had also been delayed by the construction but Erin was patiently waiting. The water was calm, sky mostly cloudy but air about 80. The water felt cold, I guessed about 70 the others guessed lower. Our perception may have been skewed as we have been swimming in a 85 degree pool this week. Actually it averaged about 68.4, warmer near shore, colder at the curve. This westerly wind thing has lasted for about 6 weeks, giving a permanent inversion, the eastern half of the lake is baking in the upper 70's. We swam to the curve and back. For some reason I had trouble swimming straight on the way out, but with the big black condo building by the beach back was no problem. It was a nice swim. Ken had 6 minutes left on his meter which he thought would get us some coffee at Starbucks, fortunately Jody fed the meter as we dawdled for about half an hour. Except for the traffic a good morning.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Lake Michigan, August 1

I was swimming in Lake George in upstate New York where it was a pleasant 76 degrees. The word I got from others in our swim group was that it was still around 65 degrees at Ohio Street but in the low 80's near Michigan city. This pattern, driven by west winds, has no sign of changing.