Longest swim yet!

Well… I didn’t expect to do that! On Sunday I went with Nina and Judith (who are both experienced swimmers and members of the Glasgow Triathlon) up to Loch Lubnaig in the Trossachs, and I ended up swimming WAY further than I thought I could, and her have. 

I’ve always tended to swim about 3km when I swim (fitted in an hour), and lately I’ve increased my open water distance … or time, to 1 hour 15, or about 4km.

When I did the 4km at Loch Ard a few weeks ago, the GPS maybe didn’t pick up correctly, so the 4k distance I thought I did might be out… but I felt fine in the water swimming for 1 hour 15.

So when Nina said what their plans were, to swim the length of Loch Lubnaig – a potential 4-6km… I was cautiously doubtful that it wouldn’t be sensible for me to try it… but I also know having run and trained long, if I fuelled and hydrated well, and with regular swim training, it could be possible. 

Justin came and collected me ar just after 7am and we made our way along the M8 and towards the A9 and off at Stirling, then over to Loch Lubnaig. 

We had good chats on the journey… then I smiled when I saw a faint rainbow in the sky… it got brighter, and in the end it looked like it was over Loch Lubnaig in the north. I didn’t tell Judith about my rainbow story, and why I like them, but maybe one day I will. (Most of the action pics / videos from here were taken with Nina’s go pro).

We rocked up at the Cabin at Loch Lubnaig and Nina was there. The plan was for us to be / get ready to swim and leave out changing gear in Nina’s car there, and then Judith drive hers up to the top of the loch where we went in.

The rain was on and off… but it didn’t really matter as we’d be getting in the water, and fortunately the water was calm and the weather ok. We got in and warmed a bit, stopping a few times to settle in. My turtle thermometer said it was 14’C and it felt ok. 

I was wearing my thermal orca RS1 wetsuit, speedo goggles, and orca hat… and neoprene socks. I had toyed with the idea of me using fins, but im glad I didn’t as we all kept a steady pace together (unaided!). At 1,250m in, we all got into a good ryrhym… and just seemed to keep going.

I was feeling good and decided to keep swimming as long as Nina And Judith did. They’re both training for Coniston in two weeks time – an 8.5km swim down in England… when Judith mentioned it I honestly was thinking – who can swim 5 miles and be ok during and after it??! 

My watch beeps splits every 250m… I was swimming between or beside the two of them… they seemed to have good sighting and seemed to be going straight, so I was matching them and it was feeling good.

The 250ms ticked off, and at about 3km or just under an hour, I was feeling good. A bit of a chip started but we all navigated it fine, and before I knew it we were at 4,100m… and I’d just swam nearly 3km non stop.

I noticed they’d stopped for a breather and a gel (we’d got down to the cabin by that point)…. and it was then I realised that I’d swam the furthest outside that I’d ever swam (and I let them know). 

Nina offered me a gel that she had spare, a blackcurrant one, and I gratefully accepted it. I’d had a good breakfast (weetabix, blueberries, milk and a banana), and a coffee and some water pre swim … but have run long distance before I knew that now would be a good time for some energy.

The only time I’ve swum further than that was one year maybe 15 years ago when I swam 200 lengths, or 5,000m for charity. It was before I really knew about training and fuelling for the distance, so whilst I managed it, I probably bonked at the end and was useless for a day or two. 

So since then and after long runs where I’ve maybe over done it in the past, I’m a lot more cautious now / making sure that I hydrate, fuel and rest.

Back the the swim, we all checked in with each other to make sure we were ok, and that I was ok to continue. There was a choice for me to get out then, but I felt good and confident I could continue. 

Nina said to the end was about 5.8km… and whilst I haven’t ever done that before, it felt achievable today. So we started back up again. Again the 250ms ticked off, and before we knew it we were at the car park at the bottom of the loch… and we’d swum about 5,300m. I joked / asked if we were getting a speed boat back to the cabin / car… but I knew the answer was no.

One of us was getting a bit cold by that point, but I was still ok. I figured we had about 1.2km to get back to the cabin / car… and as that would make it up to 6.5km – I thought that would be great. It was starting to get a little harder… and I think I thought I was ready to stop after that. My shoulders were getting sore… but I felt good that I’d done so well. 

I’d swam 5km in the time I’d estimated… and I was thinking as I swam, I wonder what my Granny or my Dad would make of this. And then the morning Rainbow popped into my head and I thought of my Granny when she watched me swim in a pool, and at the beach. 

We finished our swim… at 6.5km… at least I thought we did. But Judith and Nina wanted to swim on for another 1km. I thought about Nina’s offer of taking her car keys, but then I thought to myself, why not? I know I can do it, and I’ll be careful to refuel, recover, hydrate and rest. 

So away we went again, close together mostly, with similar arm strokes, maybe a bit of side drafting and before we knew it, we were at 7,000m and took a right to swim into shore… and then another right… 

We seemed to be at about 7,600m when we stopped again at the cabin. And Judith went into shore. Nina said her OCD was getting to her and she wanted to round it up to 8,000m, and I thought, why not, when else am I going to be here again?

We got to 7,900m and turned back to finish the last 100m. Then Nina took a few pics and videos of me swimming, before we went back to shore and we all got changed. 

8,000m swum – the full length of Loch Lubnaig then back up to the Cabin car park and around a bit!

4,217 strokes! 


2:44 hours 

Avg HR 138
Max HR 178 

Garmin training effect 4.3 / 1.7

1.354 calories burned 

I’d suffered from wetsuit burns on my neck the last few swims, so I got some LUUB anti chafe crème and it worked to a degree, but I should have put it all over as the sides and front of my neck got it a bit. So I’ll need to keep putting savlon on it to help it heal, and I’ll try the cream all over my neck the next time. By the next day it was fine.

Nina shared some chocolate covered peanut butter filled dates afterwards, which were very tasty. And I started my refilling, after I got changed. A Rego vanilla shake, crisps, a snack sized mars bar, coffee, water. 

I was but blown away that I’d managed to do that distance, but I’ll be careful now and get some good rest days in, and plenty food and sleep.

Nina said that she loves it when she gets into that meditative state when swimming, when everything seems magical… I’d got that too… a bit like the runners high, feeling confident and settled and happy… ticking along, like you could keep going all day.

I really enjoyed it and I’m sure I’ll bite their hand off again if they’re going away for another big swim. But this time I’ll be a little more prepared with some fuel for in the swim.  

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