view of the race course from 94 floors up!

I landed in Chicago around 5 this morning and hopped on a train towards downtown. According to my phone I should have gotten off the train and then taken a bus to the part of town my hotel was in but I decided that it was close enough and walked the rest of the way there instead… just me and my roller bag at 6am in downtown Chicago :) It turned out to be a really good idea. There was almost nobody on the street except for the occasional jogger and I got to watch the sun come up through all the big buildings and light up the river. The day before I had planned out a swim with my buddy Evan (he blogs over at freshwaterswimmer.com) at the site of Big Shoulders for around 8am. I figured I’d check my bags at the hotel and meet him down by the water. Much to my surprise they let me check in which was incredibly awesome! This made my day substantially better.

view down the bike path

I walked over to the beach a little later and met Evan on the sidewalk along the side of the water. The lake shore was looking really beautiful and sunny today. The water was a little textured though… wasn’t sure how that would translate once we got in. Evan had a thermometer with him and measured 60.5 degrees in the water but after swimming and talking to other people we’re pretty sure that wasn’t exactly on point. It was probably closer to 61-62 when we swam and it sounds like it got warmer as the day went on.

Evan letting it be known I was in for a beating :)

We decided to swim down the buoy line that runs parallel to the sea wall. Evan is quite a bit faster than me (he’s your 10k, 2 mile, and 3-6 mile USMS Open Water National Champion for his age group!) so he stopped every once and a while to let me close the gap a bit so we wouldn’t get too spread out. The thing that really stood out when we started swimming was how choppy it was. The interesting part of the choppiness was how messy it was. There was no pattern, it just came from everywhere. It got worse the closer you got to the breakwater. I think the water bouncing off the seawall, breakwater, and the wake from the boats was combining to make for a really interesting time in the water.

it doesn't look that dramatic from above but it was pretty formidable while you were in it

Back on the beach we ran into another swimmer who was out scoping the conditions at the lake. He let on that he was a little nervous about the swim, but when we asked him a few questions about his open water experience he mentioned a few channel crossings in passing so I think he’ll do just fine with this! After we left Ohio Street Beach we made a stop for breakfast and chatted for what turned into a couple hours. Evan also made the trip out to all 5 USMS Open Water National Championships this year so we’ve seen a lot of each other this summer despite living 2000 miles apart.

Later in the day I went exploring Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and found myself a new waterproof camera to replace my old trusty Pentax that I just killed this week. The new one is an Olympus Stylus Tough 6020. So far it seems pretty good but I haven’t gotten it wet yet. Tomorrow it’ll get the best test I can think of… swimming Big Shoulders with me! In the evening I went and hit a social held for the meet a few blocks away from my hotel and had some good conversations with other swimmers that are going to be out in the water tomorrow. This swim is really drawing in people from all over, besides me out from California we had people from Kansas, Michigan, and Ohio at my table.  I’m stoked to get out and swim tomorrow… but first I need to sleep!!! Hopefully tomorrow I have some cool pictures for you all from in the water with my fancy new camera :)

tomorrow will look about like this but with an extra 800 people!

8 Responses to “Big Shoulders Preview Swim with Evan”

  1. IronMike says:

    Definitely let us know how the new camera is.

    So miffed I couldn’t go to Big Shoulders this year. Maybe next year. Good luck!

  2. Rob D says:

    So far so good on the new camera, it swam 5k with me and didn’t break so that’s a good start right? Once I’ve had it for a while I’ll give it the full review treatment.

  3. Evan says:

    Love the pic, thought I’d commandeer it for my FB profile :)

    The day-before swim was incredibly helpful. The next morning was cloudier & rainier, but we were ready for the chop.

    Good times all around. Hope you’ll join us for future mid-September Lake Michigan adventures!

  4. Rob D says:

    Sounds good dude… I think I need to go pro as a FB profile photographer :)

    I’m glad we got a chance to pre-swim it to be ready for that weird ass chop pattern. I’m sure I’ll see you soon somewhere whether it’s the west coast of the mid-west coast!

  5. [...] Coverage: Don’t miss Rob’s account of our Friday morning “preview swim.” Filed under open water, racing Comment [...]

  6. R.L. Morrison says:

    Great race report, Rob. Again, the pictures are very informing. However, the conditions on Saturday appeared (from the sidelines) to be much worse than what you show in the Preview Swim photo. It was a VICTORY to even complete that swim. Congratulations. RLM

  7. Rob D says:

    Thank you sir! Completion is always my goal, the speed part comes second. Saturday was definitely uglier overall, but I think the actual chop in the water was similar… either way it was a mess but in a fun way! I’d swim it like that again any day.

  8. Karrie says:

    So I also advenutured this year in my first Big Shoulders Race. I think I offficaly know what it feels like to be a sock in the washing machine. It was cold, it was wavy, it was AMAZING! Crazy the hearts of swimmers. Only did the 2.5K this year, no wetsuit but can’t wait for the full 5K next year. Congrats to all that adventured out and finished.