Swimming around the Old Man of Stoer

The Old Man of Stoer is one of Scotland’s most iconic sea stacks. Set against the wild Sutherland coastline, it has long attracted climbers looking for a formidable challenge. But for swimmer Norman Todd, the stack presented an unresistible swimming challenge.

On Saturday 29 April, 46 year old Norman became the first person to swim around the sea stack. The off-shore worker braved the treacherous conditions and 6.5 degree water for a 30-minute skins swim in aid of the RNLI. The Lochinver lifeboat assisted him during the swim.

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“The water has still not really warmed up since the winter and it was extremely difficult to access the channel and get in behind the stack,” said Norman. “The huge, cresting waves were just pounding over me and it was a real challenge to negotiate my way in without getting pushed up onto the rocks. It was by no means the longest swim I have done but it was the most technically challenging that I have yet undertaken.”

Norman recovered post-swim with hot drinks and warm clothing. “I was shivering a lot but totally relieved to be back on the boat. The support the crew gave me on the day was incredible. I swim in the sea for fun but RNLI crew go out there routinely to save lives. They are the true heroes of the oceans and we should do what we can to support them.”

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Norman’s swim has so far raised over £1300. His next challenge is to swim the 24-mile North Minch separating the Scottish Highlands from the Hebrides, followed by a world record attempt to cross the North Sea between Shetland and Norway as part of an eight-person relay.

Support Norman’s fundraising at 

Images: Fiona Johnson Photography 

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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.