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Lake Michigan swim report & wetsuit review

I'll get up at 5am to bike on empty roads. It's more relaxing, safer because of the lack of cars, and there's the chance you'll see some wildlife in the woods around sunrise. And last night got me thinking I'm probably also an early morning open water swimmer as well. That's when most of our races take place anyway. It was my first attempt at evening swimming in Lake Michigan and overall a good time except for the chaos.

Was actually a great turnout for the triathlon club's Stroke and Stride. The idea being that Tuesday evenings during the summer we meet to do a timed "scrimmage" of swim-transition-run. But the bus from the Loop to Navy Pier got stuck in some major rush hour traffic and I ended up arriving with less than 5 min to check in and get my wetsuit on. So I opted to hang back, take my time, and swim on my own then skip the run after. Spent a good 30 minutes in the water though it wasn't a ton of distance swimming. Got used to my suit, enjoyed the weather, etc..

If you haven't been to the lake yet this year (or ever) it's a bit crazy because all the cyclists and runners have been detoured for the construction of the Navy Pier flyover. So last night you had all that traffic, plus casual beach activity, the cafe customers, etc.. Too much for me. They've moved the lockers away from the wall in the corner where they used to be and they are now directly next to the path, at the back of the beach at the top of the steps down to the sand. Did manage to get one of those and had brought a lock, at least.

The water is coming in at the mid-60's which is a warm up from this past weekend when it was 59-61 degrees. The wetsuit was definitely needed, but it made it very comfortable. Water quality was clear-to-shadowy without a lot of debris. No weeds or dead fish. And you can see the bottom until the water gets deeper. It's very sandy and traditionally "beach-like" at the moment with a fine sand that will get all over everything. Almost flat conditions last night. Maybe an ever so slight swell with occasional wave...mostly from boat traffic.

My new wetsuit was--to my relief--a great fit. Not overly constricting in terms of tightness, but I was surprised at the amount of water it doesn't let in. Quite dry, in fact, and I'll chalk that up to the tight wrists. Most of what water did get in was from the zipper. And when I let a little in via the neck, it didn't have a super easy exit which caused the suit to suction a bit. But the shoulder freedom was great and the buoyancy in the legs is nice. No problems at all and it's fun to see some dirt on it and have it get some use finally.

Not sure I'll take the time to come down for an evening swim much though. Early mornings are quieter and more relaxed, if that's your thing. Fewer people using the path, fewer people in the water and playing on the beach, fewer people using the lockers.

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