Saturday, September 27, 2014

Evanston, September 27

Awesome! After our last Lake swim the weather just got colder. Water temperature in upper 50's, morning air at 45, just not swimmable. Jody and I did not even contact each other. My Lake swim gear was put away for the winter.

But suddenly the weather changed. A week of highs in the upper 70's, mostly sunny skies and a light easterly breeze. Reports of Lakeshore water temperatures in the 60's, even the crib reported 60's. Independently Jody and I realized we had to go. We had both, separately, volunteered to work at a local running race this morning, so we agreed to leave directly from the race at 9AM for a later start. For logistic reasons we picked Evanston even though it might be colder than Ohio St. But with time for the sun to warm the air the conditions looked perfect. Although the water felt very cold it was probably more our two week layoff rather than actuality. In fact the water averaged about 66.8 There were low trochoidal waves at the beach which I explained to Jody could indicate trouble, see this blog or Google , but they were so harmless looking we didn't give them a second thought. The swim out to the wall was pleasant, and we were actually surprised to see 2 foot waves which were more like large chop, but each peak was smooth. Swimming back we realized we should have paid more attention to the trochoidal waves, it was a much tougher swim than the way out. So we came right into shore somewhat shaken up, rather than hit the near wall.

But still, to have a swim this nice this late in the season is a rare treasure not to be missed. Awesome!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Ohio Street, September 7

Yesterday was Big Shoulders but neither Jody nor I swam it. Neither of us would let the Big Shoulders guys intimidate us into signing up before summer swim season started and we had some confidence that we could do the race. But by then Big Shoulders was closed so we couldn't enter. Given our temperature observation last Sunday and the dire forecasts of 7 foot waves, which we did not find creditable, we weren't exactly sorry we weren't there yesterday. I did briefly talk to Joe who swam the race with his son Kevin and he said it was "fine but wavy". Looking at the results it seems about 900 swimmers did complete the race (2.5 or 5K) which isn't bad. But the times were very slow, so either the course was extra long or the waves were a deterrent.

Today Jody and I did our penance swimming a mile at Ohio St. Jody had stuff to do so we went a bit early. The hypothermia warning level is a total of less than 120 degrees, air and water. According to her car the air was 55 degrees and the sun was just rising so adding no warmth. We didn't find out until we got to the 1/4 mile buoy at Chicago ave that the water was 63.6, so we didn't meet the minimum. But we felt OK so we decided to complete the swim anyway. By the time we got out the air was 60 so we were legal. The water was glass flat at the beach with a small swell and very light chop at the turn. The only bummer was the sun at water level shining directly into my eyes on the way out. But as our friend Heidi showed us at Sharkfest, seeing is overrated for open water. Jody thought it was a great swim but I only give it a very good. Between the sun, some hot coffee and heat in the car we were very comfortable after we got out. We are hoping for a few more swims this summer.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Evanston, August 31

What a difference a day makes, as the saying goes. Yesterday the water felt cool at entry but was actually warm. Today it felt cold and was. The water temperature averaged 67 with much colder water only a foot or so beneath the surface. The difference in location may be as relevant as the strong south west winds the last 24 hours. Fortunately Jody brought her other daughter, Karen, who is quite different physically from Jill. Even though Karen claimed this was her first open water experience she handled it quite well, Jill would have been frozen. Actually with warm air and a nice sun it really wasn't that bad, in fact I would say it was great. The water was mostly flat, by shore even mirror flat, but further out there was a light swell and chop. The water was mostly clear, the bottom was visible most of the way but with an unusual brownish color, possibly sand from yesterday's wind or maybe algae? The latter is unlikely as I would feel much worse now with my algae allergy.

Our swim got off to a ragged start with Karen taking the lead not quite knowing where she was going, me in chase, while Jody went back for her ear plugs which she claims do more than a wet suit to keep her warm. We all met up at the wall and had a lazy swim back enjoying the nice day.