Thursday, July 28, 2016

Evanston, Wednesday July 28

This morning we had one confused Lake and two confused swimmers. We have been swimming earlier this week in a 85 degree pool, so our first impression was that the Lake was very cold, maybe even cold enough that we shouldn't swim. However standing shoulder deep for a while and periodically checking my temperature watch not fall as fast as expected we decided it was us, not the Lake. That proved to be the case, we were standing in 65 degree water which should be plenty warm enough. But there were thermoclines and pockets as we swam with much colder water. Going out was not bad, there were 1 foot swells and we were swimming into a light northeast breeze, one which was predicted to strengthen as the day progressed. While swimming to the wall Jody stopped and pointed, at first I thought she had seen some birds but with effort I was able to see over the swells and it was 5 or so wetsuited swimmers going south. Shortly later they took off north again so apparently our beach was their turn around spot.

After reaching the far wall the wind picked up a bit, and also we were swimming with the wind which should be faster but also harder. And hard it was, both of us had difficulty swimming straight and it was much harder to see each other. Between the cold spots, warm spots, body heat generated from swimming hard and sun on my back my body became very confused as to whether I was hot or cold or what, an uncomfortable feeling. The swells now seemed disorganized and like large, although somewhat smooth, chop. Of course we eventually got back, but both of us agreed it was one of our harder swims at this beach. Jody, at least, was still happy we came since we both have family visiting this weekend and may not get out again.

Joe swam yesterday, water temperature about the same but flatter. He sends along this picture.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Evanston, Friday, July 22

Joe, who works for a living, could not come with us on Tuesday and will not be around for our usual Saturday swim was jealous about not swimming with us at Evanston. He did have some time this morning early and Evanston was forecast to be relatively flat, which it was, so I agreed to ditch my usual morning outdoor pool swim and accompany him to Evanston. Again the concern was water temperature and the remote data was confusing so the best way to find out was to go. My guess was that nothing had happened since Tuesday to warm up the water but there were some wavy periods which would tend to mix the pockets and thermoclines making the whole swim somewhat colder but not frigid. I was right, we had a uniform 61, which wasn't all that cold, especially given the warm air.

The interesting thing was the fog on the water. There was about a 10 foot layer over the water, not the nearby land. We could see the partly sunny sky clearly as well as buildings and trees by the lake. But we could not see horizontally very far, even the near wall was hard to see. The far wall was invisible until we were almost there and from the beach it appeared that the lakeshore had grown into the lake overnight complete with large trees. We finally realized that this illusion was behind the far wall that was in the fog but the farther trees were high enough to be out of the fog making them look closer than they really were. Normally Joe is faster than me but with my magic pants and effort I was able to keep up with him the during the swim until almost the end so we would not lose track of each other in the fog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Evanston, Tuesday, July 19

Jody and I decided to go to Evanston today, partly because she will not be in town this weekend and mostly beause the conditions looked good for that spot which we have missed greatly so far this summer. The one issue was that we were not able to get an accurate reading on what the water temperature would be. Indications were that it would be somewhere between 56 and 66, the former not really swimmable. But Jody wanted to see for ourselves so I was happy to tag along. It turns out the answer was "all of the above". When we got to the beach we were happy to see about three people in the water around the beach area without wetsuits or even caps. And they were swimming backstroke, so it must be balmy. But in fact for most of our swim the top 8 inches was in the middle 60's, I had one reading slightly over 66. But then there was a thermocline with much colder temperatures. Taking a vertical position in the water the water on our feet was very possibly no warmer than 56. We now knew why the people at the beach were on their backs, this was the position where they would mostly stay in the warmer thermocline. In addition to the layers there were also pockets some where the warm water went down much farther and some with no warm water at all. We stopped at a point midway on our route with a warm pocket, but a couple feet away it was frigid. So the old saying "If you don't like the Chicago weather wait an hour and it will be different" could be replace by "If you don't like the water temperature move a few feet."

Otherwise it was a very nice swim, bright sun, very calm water but not glassy, and the bottom, which is farther away this year, was visible for the entire swim. There was a slight fishy smell which is promising because fish have been largely absent recently. We did a wall to wall swim and just enjoyed how much nicer this is than Ohio Street. We were happy we came.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saturday, July 16, Ohio Street again

This was supposed to be the weekend we finally went to our Evanston beach. But the new or newly designed website for the Wilmette buoy, which gives almost real time data on wave heights near Wilmette, was giving a wave height of 2.3 ft early this morning. That is a bit more wave than we like to swim in the unprotected area near our beach. So we, Jody, Joe and I, went back to Ohio St, but I warned Joe that he could hit larger waves if he ventured out of the protected area and went around the curve. I was right, it was relatively flat near the Ohio St. beach but there were 2-3 ft swells past the curve. However, in contrast to the last time we were here the wind was light and the swells were relatively clean of chop. So it was quite swimmable and we swam all the way to Oak Street. There Jody actually caught some waves to ride, but Joe and I being less skilled at body surfing were not able to.

The water was about 68, a bit cooler than it had been. It felt chilly getting in, especially since the sun was hidden by clouds. But by the time we got going it felt great, we even had some moments of sun. Overall we rated this swim an 8 out of 10 and were glad we came.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Ohio st, Monday, July 4

For some reason it does not seem like July already, perhaps because I haven't yet done my 1500 race. So when I agreed to swim July 2 I had forgotten that I always swim July 4 and I should have waited. But then we had to come again today. But now I'm glad we did Saturday. Parking was hard, we got the last, possibly illegal spot by Starbucks. But we didn't get a ticket. I thought the forecast looked questionable, wavy and it was correct. By the beach it was pretty calm but by Chicago Ave it got choppy and worse as we continued. At the half mile buoy we did not hesitate to turn around, although Jody did want to test the strong current. Among other things we realized that we would quickly lose sight of each other in the heavy chop. The swim back was harder than the swim out so clearly there was an outbound current. One of the hardest swims we have had here.

The one good thing is the water has actually reached 70.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Ohio Street, July 2

The season begins a bit early this year. A decent day, air a bit chilly but after a day of high waves things were fairly calm. Water varied from 68 to 69 degrees. Joe led around the corner, there were smooth 2 foot swells making it a little hard to see, by the time Jody and I got around, Joe, with his white cap, was lost in the clutter that is now on the Oak st beach. The water level was so high I thought could get out on the walk by timing a swell. It didn't work that we'll but I found a hidden ladder. Once up I could see Joe coming our way so all was well. Overall a decent swim.