This month I took on one of the biggest challenges of the 17 and one I have been planning since the beginning of the year – the Great Scottish Swim, on Loch Lomond.
I have always fancied open water swimming and with living so close to the loch, I had little excuse not to give it a go. I got some advice from a lot of people before I took the plunge, so made sure I had all the right kit including wet suit, safety buoy, rash vests, goggles, and the dreaded swim cap!
As expected the water was freezing, but once I got moving everything was fine. The morning of the race I felt sick with nerves, I think of the unknown! However, once I was standing in the crowd ready to jump in the atmosphere really boosted my spirits and the nerves seemed to disappear.
The swim started at the Maid of the Loch, which my gran talked about on numerous occasions whilst she was living with dementia. As a popular attraction in the area when she was younger, she and her friends used to go on the boat and sail up the loch. On one particular occasion they all went on and all forgot their purses! The captain, Lachie Nicholson, who knew my grandpa, sorted it all and they all travelled for free!
She regularly mentioned losing her purse or panicking she couldn’t find it, so she must have remembered parts of this event quite clearly. At first, because we didn’t understand the disease, we would say we didn’t know where her purse was or remind her she wasn’t on a boat. This would just upset her too much and distress her more. We found as time went on that it was better to “tweak” the story. Tell her we had her purse and that she had been on the boat earlier that day or going later. We never knew if this was the right thing to do, but so long as it didn’t upset her we felt it was okay. We just tried to do what we could to avoid her being upset or distressed, even if it did effect all of us.
There was something bittersweet about swimming past the Maid of the Loch, but it was incredible motivation to keep me going and get the challenge done. I managed the half a mile swim in just under half an hour, which I was delighted with! I am now completely converted to open water swimming and can’t wait to get back into the water. With another of the big challenges coming up it will have to wait for now, as I need to get out and do some running. Can’t quite believe there are only six challenges left!