Scot swims in Loch Lomond without a wetsuit to thank the “altruistic” rescuers
AN EXPERIENCED wild swimmer who was heartbroken by the drownings in Loch Lomond in July has taken on an incredible challenge to show her gratitude to the selfless volunteers who keep people safe in Scottish waters and to raise much-needed funds for make sure they can continue their vital work.
Earlier this month, Nicola Mather of Edinburgh fulfilled a long-held dream of becoming one of a few dozen swimmers to swim the full length of Loch Lomond – a total of 21.6 miles – without a wetsuit. diving, and has so far raised over £ 1,600 for the Loch Lomond lifeboat.
Starting at 5:10 am on August 10, the challenge took almost 4½ hours to finish where she was in the water the entire time.
“I moved to Scotland 12 years ago and have been swimming outdoors for several years in places like Portobello and the reservoirs around Edinburgh and have done marathons and six or eight hour swims , but I always wanted to have a go to Loch Lomond, ”she said,“ My friend Chris runs a swim group called Inchbaggers and did some safe sustained swims and I swam around the islands with it. she.
“She’s supported a lot of swimmers over the years and she knows the Loch and the conditions so I felt very safe with her. When I heard about the drownings in Loch Lomond I was so upset, it was just a horrible time, I couldn’t believe it, I had a stomach ache.
“I felt so bad for everyone involved, their friends and family, but also for the rescuers.
“I just wanted to do something constructive and I couldn’t think of anyone better to raise money than a local charity on the Loch who has very difficult things at a time when they are extremely busy and just something to say thank you.
“As a swimmer and someone who uses the water I think it’s so selfless what they do.”
Ms Mather, 48, started swimming in Balloch after descending the Duncan Mills slipway and had the support and motivation of Chris, her husband Elliot who helped feed her, kayaker Rich and her friend Diana along the way.
To stay motivated despite the sensory deprivation, she tapped into “a playlist” in her head for an eclectic mix of music from “Donald, Where’s Your Troosers? to 60s disco, 80s rock and 90s indie music.
The hardest point, she added, was around 12 hours in the swim, which was the longest she had done when she was both physically and mentally exhausted from the feat.
She completed the feat in Ardlui at 9:37 p.m. where she crawled out of the water to be congratulated by her supporters and those who had spotted her from the campsite near the loch – as well as a welcome party of midges.
“I couldn’t believe I did,” Ms. Mather added. a cup of tea. People supported me so much, it was awesome.
Speaking of the benefits of wild swimming, Ms Mather said she found the experience “very solid” and, since starting the activity, she has found a great community of people discovering the beauty of the country. ‘a unique way.
“A lot of people found out about it,” she said, “I think when I started people thought I was a little weird, but now so many people like it and it’s is really fantastic.
“I have raised over £ 1,600 and the lifeboat has sent some nice messages thanking you, but I would love to collect as much as possible for them, it really makes a huge difference in the work they do.”
Loch Lomond Rescue Boat President Calum Stevens said: “All Loch Lomond Rescue Boat volunteers are in awe of Nicola’s fundraising accomplishments for the boat.
“Swimming along the Loch without a wetsuit is a truly amazing achievement and we are honored that she chose us as the charity of choice for her fundraising.
“As Nicola points out, it has been a very busy and difficult summer with many appeals and sadly fatalities on the Loch.
“As a voluntary charity fundraisers like Nicola are essential to the continuation of our operations on the Loch, we rely on donations to pay for fuel, kits and operational costs. Once again a big thank you from all of us at Loch Lomond Rescue Boat and an amazing swim indeed.
Those wishing to donate to Ms. Mather’s fundraiser can do so on the Virgin Money Giving page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/NicolaGraham2