The Wild West Swimmers had fun and raised money for charity in their inaugural ten loch adventure. By Greg Hincks
On Saturday 2 September 2017, the Wild West Swimmers, a group of outdoor swimmers based in the west of Scotland, held a “Ten Lochs Challenge”. This inaugural event involved participants swimming for 20 to 30 minutes in each of 10 lochs in the heart of Rob Roy country in the Trossachs region of the Scottish Highlands. The lochs in order of swimming were Loch Earn, Loch Voil, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Venachar, Loch Drunkie, Loch Achray, Loch Ard, Loch Chon, Loch Katrine, and finally Loch Lomond at Inversnaid.
SKINS OR WETSUITS
A total of 30 swimmers took part in the event, which started with them hitting the 13.8c water of Loch Earn at 7am, before finishing with a 6pm dip in Loch Lomond, with some swimmers adding a paddle under the waterfall to finish. The water temperature in the other lochs varied from 15.1c in Loch Lubnaig to a mild 16.5c in Loch Ard. Swimmers chose to swim in either skins or wetsuits, or a combination of the two. A food break was scheduled at Loch Lubnaig, and another longer lunch break at Loch Ard.
10 X 10 CHALLENGE
Some of the group were attempting a 10 x 10 challenge by swimming one kilometre in each loch, with a few achieving this goal in wetsuits. Others chose to pursue this additional goal in skins, until the chilly water and long day made the last few lochs that much more difficult. Many were happy just to take a swim in all 10 lochs over the course of the day.
The logistics were organised in
advance, with a tight schedule sent to
all swimmers who were encouraged to
carpool throughout the day. The total
distance travelled by car from Loch
Earn to Loch Lomond was around 60
miles, on top of the 100 miles return
trip from Glasgow. It must have been
an amazing sight for passing tourists
and hikers, to see 10 cars arrive at a
loch, producing 30 men and women
who immediately entered the water
and swam, only to leave again just as
Weather conditions on the day were ideal, with mist rising off the still waters of Loch Earn at the start, some fog in Loch Voil, and sunshine breaking through clouds at most of the other lochs. We were also lucky that the wind did not start blowing until we arrived at Loch Katrine, making us very aware that it was early September in the Highlands of Scotland. The air temperature was 6c at Loch Earn when we started, rising to a very pleasant 20c by around 3pm at Loch Chon.
The day was long, but everyone who took part agreed that the Ten Lochs Challenge was a rewarding and fun experience. It was joyful to see the beaming smiles on the faces of all the swimmers, who were having a ball, while proudly wearing their commemorative caps, t-shirts and hoodies. It was a great achievement from everyone involved, with funds also raised for a worthy local charity. A big thanks to all who took part, all those who spent time organising the logistics, and those who provided the food at our lunch break.
Members of the Wild West Swimmers regularly travel from Glasgow, Stirling, Troon, Helensburgh and further afield to swim together in the fresh and pristine waters of Scotland. They are fortunate to swim year-round in the incredibly beautiful lochs, rivers and seas of Scotland, and are always welcoming of swimmers from other parts of the UK and the world.
Now, what will we do for our big adventure next summer?