Lake Erie a no-go

I’m usually not one to back down from a race. So, my decision to scratch yesterday’s 2-mile Lake Erie Open-Water Swim was not without regrets.

I had some chores to take care of down in Columbus before the renters move in to our house. I figured, instead of returning the same way I came (through Indianapolis), I’d swing through Cleveland and reward my hard work with the Lake Erie swim, which is part of the GLOWS series.

I made it up to Cleveland Friday evening, but soon after checking into the hotel I opened my laptop and read some disturbing news: A “swim advisory” at Edgewater State Park – the beach just west of downtown Cleveland where the swim would take place. Elevated E. coli levels, apparently.

Now, Cleveland has cleaned up its act in recent decades – recall the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire – but this was not what I wanted to hear. On top of the Friday swim advisory, there was also a large thunderstorm making its way through town at that very moment. Meaning even worse water quality the next morning.

82 people showed up to swim Saturday morning (of 99 registered), but I was not among them. I was already on my way back to Chicago. Did I make a mountain of a molehill? Perhaps. Yesterday’s E. coli reading (reported today) came out at 63 CFU, well below the state threshold of 235. So it was probably safe to swim.

No doubt, I’ve unknowingly exposed myself to much worse water-borne dangers than Lake Erie had to offer that morning. But that’s the way it goes – under uncertain conditions, I made a decision. Thankfully, there’s still plenty of racing left on my summer schedule.

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