FEATURES,  Readers' Swims

Turning novices into open water swimmers

Earlier this year a small group of people got together with a common interest in open water swimming with a desire to do something for our local community. After discussing our options we came across the idea of staging an end to end swim of our local and deepest freshwater Loch.

In February our group started attending our local pool. Mostly we’d classify ourselves as novices, able to swim up to a mile indoors. The task that lay before us was 5km, in depths greater than 50m and a water temperature of 12-14 degrees Celsius during August.
Our local instructor schooled us poolside and, ably assisted by one of the group, we first entered the open water on a cold and overcast day in late May.
After a few coaching sessions starting with 750m, then 1km, and onto 2.4km, we were ready to take on the challenge. We were very fortunate as we had little organisation to do for the swim other than recruit the help of the Tweed Valley Canoe Club, who provided paddlers on the swim days.
It was decided early on to stage two events to give participants the choice to swim either on a Saturday or Sunday. The first day conditions were choppy but three swimmers completed the 5km length of loch swim,  all in under two hours, with one of the swimmers doing it ‘head-up’ breaststroke.
The second day saw 17 swimmers take to the water with one doing it again after the first successful attempt only six days before.
Our efforts were to raise much needed funds for ‘Rowan Boland Memorial Trust’, who help upcoming inspiring athletes to achieve their goals by providing financial help. Over the course of the fundraising campaign we reached a target of £2000.
I would like to point out that this event was completed by all participants of varying swimming abilities and served as a goal for all to achieve whether their motivation was to swim in open water or to improve their swimming technique.
What started out as a desire to swim outside and a joke with a few friends has led to the majority of the group wishing to do the same event next year, so watch this space as we seek to make it a success once again.
 To find out more, see our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StMarysLochSwim

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I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year and I provide one-to-one support to swimmers through Swim Mentoring.