The Montrose Swim Club started with just a few friends, but has grown to upwards of 400 people coming together to jump into Lake Michigan. Members said they’re sad the dropping lake temperatures halted the club but are looking forward to getting back in the lake next summer.
Jumping, free coffee and dogs. Lots of dogs. That’s how one could describe the Montrose Swim Club, which is a group of people – including some Loyola students and alumni – who meet Friday mornings to jump into the lake. The club concluded its first season Oct. 1.
The club started with Andrew Glatt, a Chicago photographer. Last summer Glatt was training for a triathlon and would end his sessions with a plunge into Lake Michigan, according to the swim club website. His friends started joining him, and eventually his friend Nicole Novotny, who is the owner of Printers Row Coffee Co., suggested Glatt make the plunge a weekly commitment – adding that she’d provide coffee for all participating.
Fast forward to this summer – what started as a few friends taking a dip in the lake became a community event.
Glatt invited anyone and everyone to join him on Friday mornings at 7 a.m. to take a dive into Lake Michigan at Montrose Harbor. By the last club meeting, over 400 people had joined, according to Glatts’ final jump Instagram post.
The website encourages people to bring their own coffee mugs to enjoy a cup of free Printers Row Coffee afterwards as well as bring their dogs along to watch or jump.
Savannah Baker, a Loyola senior who’s studying forensic science, joined the club this year. She said her first time going was the last jump of the season, but if she stays in Chicago post-graduation she is definitely joining again.
“It was only 65 degrees in the lake and probably 67 degrees outside, so it was a little cold,” Baker, 21, said. “But jumping in was so refreshing and definitely a challenge. Being around so many other people was like ‘well they’re going to jump in so I have to jump in,’ it was really a great experience, and to be in it with them was crazy.”
Baker first learned about the club when she saw a TikTok made by another member. The TikTok gave the basic info about the club saying, “All you need is yourself, a mug, and a friend or two.”
Baker said she went with her friend Grace Lundy, a 2020 Loyola alum and wishes they would have started jumping sooner.
“It was wonderful to have the beautiful skyline as a backdrop, fresh coffee, and a bunch of people who just wanted to have fun and build community,” Lundy said in an email to The Phoenix.
Baker said the community and atmosphere that Friday morning was “crazy.”
“It brought a sense of similarities and brought a community together of people from all over Chicago communities to meet people,” Baker said.
The Swim Club website says it’s also an opportunity to meet like-minded people, “If you’re into jumping in Lake Michigan at 7 a.m. with a group of strangers, chances are you have things in common with said strangers.”
Baker recommends anyone even considering joining the club next season, which tentatively will start in the summer, to do it.
“It showed me that it’s possible to get over scary things and the unknown,” Baker said.
As a senior, Baker said she’s dealing with a lot of unknowns in her life right now and is unsure what’s going to happen after graduation.
“It was a good reassurance that it’s going to be okay with whatever happens and you’re surrounded by so many people whether you know them or not,” Baker said.
The Montrose Swim Club will start whenever the weather is warm enough for people to jump again, according to Baker and Glatt.
“It felt big,” Baker said. “It was just jumping into Lake Michigan, but it felt bigger than that.”