Duo Dips in Dangerously Cold Water

Winter swimmers few and far between in Lake Michigan

It was well below zero over the weekend, but that didn't stop two guys in black wet suits from carefully navigating across the icy beach at North Avenue towards Lake Michigan.

There were no sunbathers on beach towels to step over. No toddlers digging deep in the cool sand. No empty bottles and cans littering the beach.  None of that stood between the two unemployed construction workers and the frigid water before them.

Then they jumped in.

David Oliva and Chris Schroeder, a couple of 50-somethings from the western suburbs, say they've been swimming together for years, and just started the winter dives last year, when they bought some lightweight wet suits. They typically swim at least one mile.

"Are y'all nuts goin' swimmin' in this mess?" says a man, visiting from Biloxi, Miss. He's shivering, and his hands are jammed into his jacket's pockets. "Ain't no way in the world I'd get in that water!"

Oliva and Schroeder get those kinds of comments a lot, Stephano Esposito reported in Monday's Sun-Times.

"We hear all kinds of things, like my eyeballs will freeze out of my head," says Oliva, as he treads water in the lake. To dispel the myth, Oliva dips his face into the water.

"My eyeballs feel like cool Jell-O," says Oliva, who lives in Villa Park.

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