3 Lakes Challenge – Loch, Lake, Llyn

A team of five swimmers has conquered what they have dubbed the ‘3 Peaks of Swimming’: swimming the three longest lakes in Scotland, England and Wales in a continuous relay format in under 48 hours including travel times, wearing standard swim suit, hat and goggles. They successfully completed the challenge of swimming Loch Awe, Lake Windermere and Lyn Tegid (Lake Bala) at the weekend in a time of 36 hours 23 minutes.
Channel swimmer Jason Betley came up with the idea of the 3 Lakes Challenge as he wanted to do something that had not been done before. The team of five comprised Helen Gibbs (solo Channel, one way Windermere, Catalina, Rotness, Gibraltar straights, 2swim4life pair), Jason Betley (solo Channel, one way Windermere, Gibraltar Straits, 2swim4life pair), Debbie Taylor (Channel relay, one way Windermere, 2swim4life pair), Helen Liddle (Channel relay, one way Windermere, 2swim4life pair) and Sam Plum (Channel relay, 2swim4life pair).
“The rest of us were all keen for a challenge and thought it would be a great thing to do,” said Helen Liddle. “The initial seed was sewn nearly two years ago but we only stated planning at the beginning of this year. The challenge was kept a secret until a week before.”
The first swim was Loch Awe, the longest freshwater loch in Scotland, measuring 25 miles from end to end. “We started the challenge at 5.43am in thick fog but the water was silky smooth and like a mirror,” said Liddle. “When the fog lifted and the sun came out it was stunning. Loch Awe is a hidden gem with no boat traffic so completely idyllic.” The team finished at 18.07pm after swimming for 11 hours 47 minutes. Water temperature ranged from 14 to 19 degrees Celsius.
The second swim was 10.5 miles in Lake Windermere. “After a stormy sleepless night in the mini bus we started in the rain,” said Liddle. “Again the lake was like a sheet of glass and stayed that way until the end.” The swim was completed in 5 hours 53mins with water temperature between 17 and 20 degrees.
The final swim, after a total of 396 driving miles, was Lake Bala. Although the shortest lake at only 4miles it was the hardest swim. “The wind had got up making it really choppy and by this time we were all very tired,” said Liddle. The swim time was 1 hour 43 mins. Water temperature was between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius. After completing Lake Bala their total swim time was 19 hours 23 mins.
After swimming 39.5 miles the team were thrilled to be the first to attempt and complete the challenge. “We all got on well as a team and had lots of laughs along the way which helped to keep us all motivated, along with lots of messages of support from friends and swimmers who were tracking us,” said Liddle. “The only low would have to be sleeping (or not) in the mini bus – seven people, one dog, hot muggy weather, no aircon, and wet damp kit is not a good combination and does not make for a happy night’s sleep!”
If you want to take on the 3 Lake Challenge email Helen Liddle at for more information.

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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.