The Lake Decides

SatIMG_20160522_202649urday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday at the end of May, 2016. Holiday weekend. Warm air, clear skies. A chilly morning dip at Coronation Park in Oakville, and three beautiful evenings at the beach along the Burlington shore …

… and an object lesson in how our Great Lake dictates terms for swimmers, not the other way around!

You swim when, and how, the lake lets you swim.

So, Saturday morning at Coronation Park in Oakville: still cool air (11C) with a breeze, water slightly warmer (12C). Lynn and Christine in the water with me, Ross and Madhu on shore patrol. A short, brisk swim, with lots of stopping and standing.


Sunday evening at Burlington Beach: warm air, cold lake, at about 13C water temperature. Fair enough: it’s still spring, and that’s roughly the water temperature from the day before, further up the shore. Another short, cold swim, and again with lots of stopping and standing!


Monday evening, again at Burlington Beach: against the backdrop of the previous swims, these were balmy water temperatures, ranging from high 14C out at the buoy line to patches of 16C closer to the shallows. I find that, once we’re above 12C, I can actually get some respectable swimming in (… and in retrospect, I should have done a longer swim when I had these conditions, but the kids were getting restless on shore, and the puppy didn’t much like the fireworks folks were setting off on the beach).


Now, Tuesday was essentially an early summer day: clear sunny skies and temperatures creeping up to the high 20’s. You might conclude that Tuesday evening would find a warmer lake, especially at Burlington, with long, forgiving sandy shallows … right?

I mean, if it was 16C the evening before, and warm all day, and no winds and swells and offshore currents. Time for a nice, long sunset swim!

… alas, no such luck. Water temperatures ranged from just below 10C to 12C at the warmest points, averaging just under 11C for the duration of the short, miserable swim.


To be sure, we’ve been in much colder water, and in a past season I swam roughly 3km at Burlington in 12C or so, but I think 45 minutes is about the longest I’ve been in water below 12C, and last night was one of the coldest, most painful recovery sessions I can recall (although you tend to blot those things out after the really cold swims). I’d swum 6km in the pool that morning, and had hoped to match that in the lake.

Again, the lake decides.


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Professor. Dad. I swim some.

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