did you know that “Dip A Day” is one thing?
Last weekend Jen Skladanek completed her 52nd “dive” in Lake Michigan this year. She started in early June and at first she didn’t set a goal. She just soaked to soak. But then she decided to keep track and try to make 52 dips – which is her age – before it gets too cold.
“As long as my feet aren’t frozen, I’ll go for a swim,” Skladanek says.
While not exactly a ‘dip a day’ for Skladanek, she does it as often as possible and was inspired by a friend in Boston who has dived Cape Cod daily for 96 consecutive days in 2020. Sklandanek met other Lake Michigan divers this summer, including a couple who completed their 27th dive in a row.
Skladanek says she enjoys bathing as part of a frequent routine. She rides her bike from her Riverwest home to one of her favorite spots that range from the Bradford Beach area to the waterfront public areas in the northern suburbs.
“This is my therapy,” Skladanek says. “It helps clear my head. ”
There are no rules for ‘diving’, but for Skladanek it means walking in the water, diving under, swimming for a few seconds to a few minutes, then getting out. It’s a slightly longer version of how people dive in the lake for the annual polar bear dive on New Years Day. (Skladanek did the Polar Plunge twice, for the record.)
It doesn’t take Olympic-level ability to be a lake diver, just strong swimming skills, common sense, and a passion for Lake Michigan – or any body of water. Skladanek says she learned to swim as a child – her mother was a swimming teacher – and later on frequent visits to Wirth Park in Brookfield as a teenager.
“I have always been drawn to water. I know it sounds cheesy, but it makes me feel connected to the earth, ”Skladanek explains.
Lake Michigan’s magnetic pull is strong for many Milwaukeean residents, whether they sunbathe, sail, swim, snorkel, or just meditate on shore life.
“We are so lucky to have the lake here,” Skladanek says. “On a hot sunny day, when I dive into the lake, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.”
Read more local Lake Michigan love stories here.