Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Pinery, Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada, July 25

So I didn't get to swim in Chicago last weekend due to the storms but I got a nice dose of the Lake here in southwestern Ontario. There is something about the Lake on a Sunny, moderate day in the late afternoon that makes just being on the beach extremely comfortable. There was a very shallow slowly sloping bottom and 2 ft waves breaking far out and again and again as they came to shore. Not good for parallel swimming but OK for out and back. The water was 79. My 6 year old granddaughter has just learned to swim well enough to be comfortable in the surf and had a ball, as did her older brothers. Dinner in Grand Bend, overlooking the Lake and watching the sun go down. It was hard to see this as a lake, it seemed more like I was at a Mexican beach resort.

It has been pointed out that the connection between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron goes both ways so Lake Huron is actually just a segment of Lake Michigan, so this swim goes in the diary.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

No Swim, July 23-24

Due to the rains we were not able to swim this week, even though the water continues to be warm. Saturday set the all time Chicago record for most rain in a calendar day, 6.86 in. Of course the locks were open so water quality was suspect and officially Chicago beaches were closed Saturday and until 1:45 PM today when most, including Ohio Street, were reopened. In addition a thunderstorm went through about 7 AM Sunday which would have cut our swimming short. Evanston Beaches were officially closed both days.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Ohio Street, July 17

Yesterday I begged off to get my nose in order, tried out nose clips in a pool. The crew was supposed to Lake swim without me but everyone slept late instead. Joe did eventually go to Evanston and said it was great. Today Leo, Jody and I went to Ohio. The water was warm, 74, and flat, not a breath of wind, clear but slightly hazy sky and underwater visibility was about 4 feet, not great, but not as bad as the last swim. Especially going out when there were few other swimmers, swimming was about as easy as I can ever remember it. A flat Lake without nearby swimmers is much calmer than even a pool and one can just glide forever. Even struggling with the nose clips it felt good. We effortlessly swam all the way to Oak St beach and back. Leo, who knows these things, said we went 2.5 km: small shoulders. It was a bit colder near Oak St, only about 73.

We didn't want to leave but we had to rescue Leo's Caddy before the meters went into effect. And the beach was getting crowded which somewhat ruined the mood. But we just felt blessed to have experienced a swim like this one.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ohio Street, July 14

Ken and I happened to be swimming in our "new" 100 ft pool this morning and after discussing our schedule for the day realized we would both be at or near the lake around noon. We decided to meet and do a short swim. Because I was having bike repairs on North Avenue I parked at Diversey harbor which now has the "Mayor Daley" meters. It cost $6 for 3 hours which was not awful for visiting the loop. I rode down on my bike and met Ken at Ohio St at 12:30. We did a short swim (200 yd out and back by my bike GPS) and since we still had time did that again for a total of about half a mile. The water felt cold getting in, perhaps because I had been riding in the sun and perhaps because of our earlier workout in an 81 degree pool. But after a bit it felt fine, in fact it measured out at 75 F where we were near the beach. Ken remarked that he had swum further out earlier in the week and found pockets of cool. In fact we have been very lucky that the warm water has stayed on the Chicago side of the Lake for so long, Michigan City had an official shore water temperature of 49 today!

Otherwise conditions were not great. There was a strong wind from the Lake with chop and small waves. The water was cloudy with underwater visibility about to your fingers. But a noon time Lake swim is always a treat and today was no exception.

The bad news is that 12 hours later I was hit hard with an algae allergy. So I think I will limit my lake swimming a bit until the water cools off.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ohio Street, July 10

Strangely it is now easier to park on Sunday morning near the Ohio St. beach than near our Evanston beach. So Leo drove Jody and me down in his new Cadillac. One problem surfaced, what to do with his fancy electronic key. He planned to take the old fashion mechanical backup and leave the fancy key in the trunk, but Cadillac has a great feature- you can't accidentally lock your electronic key in the trunk, when you do that the doors automatically unlock. The problem is that you can't purposely lock your key in the trunk either. Eventually Leo gave up and had to leave his key in his pants by the bike racks. Fortunately lots of people leave lots of worthless stuff there while they swim so it is not an attractive place for thieves. The key was where he left it when we were done.

Not as great as yesterday but still pretty good. A hazy sun, air in 80's which made the 73 degree water feel colder at first. Still light winds but now from the south which will eventually cool down the lake. Water was not as clear, the shallow bottom was barely visible. At 6:30 we had the place pretty much to ourselves so a nice swim out. We were more ambitious and the swimming seemed easy so we went past the 1/2 mile buoy part way around the turn to Oak Street. We found that part of the easiness was that there was a small outbound current, so coming back, especially from the turn to the buoy, was tougher. It also got crowded around 7 and several fast wetsuited tri guys nearly ran us over. When we got out we saw Sue and Erin from last year getting ready to swim.

Overall a very good swim, not a perfect 10 but maybe a 9.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Perfection: Evanston, July 9

My 15 years of predicting Lake conditions payed off. Everything seemed to be coming together so I called for a swim in Evanston for today. Joe and Jody answered the call. We got to the lake at 6:30 AM, parking was tight but there were spaces. Weather was full sun, 70 degrees, the Lake had ripples but no chop or waves, light wind from the northeast. Best of all, the water was 72 and clear all the way to the bottom. Went wall to wall. Great swim, conditions simply could not be better than this. A perfect 10, whats left to say?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Promontory Point, July 5

Today I needed to pick up my wife in the loop during rush hour so I decided to drive down early to beat the traffic and bike. I parked at the 31st st beach ($1 per hour meter) and rode down to Promontory point (20 minutes for me, I'm a slow rider) near 55th st. It was sunny and 90ish inland but quite pleasant riding by the Lake. There is an unmarked area there where people can actually swim continuing a long Hyde Park tradition. Sure enough there were a handful of swimmers, most like me, had bikes parked along the rocks. This time I was equipped so I did a beach change and put on my thermal cap and climbed down the ladder into the water. Boy was I shocked. One lap around the first buoy and back (about 400 yards) and I had to come in and change caps. It was HOT, 75 degrees on my trusty watch thermometer. Another lap, this time 2 buoys, gave me 1200 yards, enough with the biking and an early morning pool swim. Some breaststroke along the rocks for cooldown looking at the many small fish. I hung out on the rocks for another half hour or so enjoying the sun and waves (about 2 feet, not much chop) and the whole scene. This is why I Lake swim, awesome!

One bummer, on the way to pick up my wife I got a ticket for driving in Chicago while talking on a cell phone. Me, who gets about 3 calls a month! So it would have been cheaper for my wife to have taken a cab home. But not so much fun for me.

For my biking see my biking blog

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Ohio Street, July 3

Today Leo was the only one to respond to my suggestion of a swim since I couldn't guarantee warm water. Leo is famous for his solo swims but I think we will see more of him this summer. Parking was very easy in the loop thanks to the holiday weekend and the new meters which are now in force on Sundays, but there is no charge before 8AM so free for us. We picked a spot midway between the Starbucks and the Lake. At 6:30 when we arrived there was almost no one there. An earlier projection showed the Lake getting much colder as the weekend progressed but with a northeast wind that did not seem reasonable to me. It did feel quite cold to us at first. My thermometer takes about 10 minutes to get a reliable reading but Leo uses the "shrink test": if his balls shrink on contact with the water its too cold. But this water passed the test so we swam.

The water was 64.5F which was only a few tenths cooler than Friday, but it was sunny and the Lake was quite flat. So it was a very good swim. By the time we were done the beach was crowded with wetsuited swimmers. Apparently some sleeping in on Sunday for them.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Ohio Street, July 1, 2011

Time to start a new season. Actually I came here yesterday while doing some other things in the area. I had hoped to swim a little but packed everything I needed except my suit. Men my age get into big trouble swimming without a suit especially when the beach is quite crowded so I did not swim, but did take the water temperature about 15 yards from shore. It was almost 70!

I was so annoyed at myself that I decided to return this morning early instead of the usual Friday pool swim. As it turned out an early swim was convenient for Ken who was to begin work at 8AM nearby. So Ken and I were there shortly after 6AM. At first the water seemed very cold to us since we have only done pool swimming since last summer. And even the outdoor pools have been warm this season. But the more we got used to it the better it felt. The water was 64.8 F, cooler than yesterday but certainly swimmable. It was quite windy and there was a lot of chop, it was also cloudy with even a few lightning strikes visible across the lake, but we knew this system has been attacking north central Indiana for the last 18 hours and we were safe. Not bad for a season opener.

There were lots of swimmers at this time, most in wetsuits so we were in the minority. We were amazed at a few very young women also swimming without them, but realized by their caps that they were members of a high school swim team. We chatted with their coach, who knew Ken, and it seems they were doing 3 miles, timed with descending times for each. So the water temperature was the least of their problems. Its nice to be swimming for fun, not to satisfy a coach.