Next week Team Nessie (me, Marc, Alaine, Emma, Rebecca and Erica) is swimming the 22-mile length of Loch Ness in 14-15 degree water and no wetsuits. Although this may seem like a crazy venture it is merely the latest instalment in a series of capers for me and my swimming companions – last year we did an English Channel in relay. In both swims we are supporting Aspire, the spinal injuries charity.
My personal swimming journey started about five years ago. After years of running (marathons, half marathons and other shorter distances) and cycling, my knees and back would no longer take it. I needed another option.
I have always wanted to keeping moving. As a child growing up, my mother had multiple sclerosis. Because of this, I was acutely aware of the contrast between what I could do and what my mother couldn’t. I have always been keen to keep moving for as long as I can and raise money for charity at the same time. One of these charities is of course the MS Society.
While being tortured on the treatment table, my physio suggested swimming as an alternative to running, so I popped down the baths. I was lucky enough to have been taught to swim as a child, but I never really enjoyed it and was never very proficient.
Despite this, a few lengths every morning led to a 5k in the Macmillan Swimathon, a 3k off Brighton pier, 10k in the Dart and then to the English Channel.
My summer in Dover last year with the Aspire swimmers was a wonderful experience. I had a great team (Nicola, Peter, Dirk, Tom, Robin, Kay and Emma) and we built up a cracking team spirit preparing for the swim.
The hardest part of the preparation was a two-hour trial swim one May weekend in Dover Harbour. The water temperature was under 15 degrees and I wouldn’t have made it without the support (and discipline!) of my team mates. An especially big thank you to Nicola Naunton for pulling me through this test!
As someone who struggles with sea sickness, even the relatively calm crossing was hard – I think I was ill five times before I got in the water! In the end, though, we had a very successful crossing, with a time of 13 hours and 11 minutes and landing in Wissant just as the sun was setting.
With that challenge completed, and still loving swimming most weekends at beautiful Shepperton Lake, I agreed with Marc and Alaine (two Aspire Channel Swimmers from last year) to take on the Monster in the Loch!
To add to the challenge, team member Emma suggested we do it without wetsuits. With a water temperature of around 14/15 degrees this could make it interesting…
I was last on the shores of the Loch 40 years ago as a child on a family holiday, but I still remember how beautiful it was.
It will be great to get back on a boat with a team of swimmers willing to dip a toe in the (very cold) water and raise money for a wonderful charity.
More information on Aspire – https://www.aspire.org.uk/
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