It has been quite a while since I posted on this blog, with my 16 kilometre swim in Loch Rannoch the last entry. But that does not mean I have not been swimming outdoors in Scotland. Just because the nights get longer, the water gets colder and the snow starts to fall, it does not mean I have not been swimming.
So after the marathon swim in September, the weather morphed into one of the sunniest Octobers on record; then one of the dullest Novembers on record; and finally one of the wettest mildest Decembers on the record books. Ah the joys of swimming in Scotland.
I have swum with a group of fellow enthusiasts in Loch Lomond, Loch Chon, and Loch Ard during the autumn and early winter. Sure it has been a challenge adjusting to the water temperature as it drops from 11c, then down to 9, then to 7, and 6. But I have adjusted, and have managed to stay in for at least half an hour each time. Sure, on some occassions I only stayed in that long as someone else was swimming without a wetsuit. But I enjoyed it every time. There is something strangely exhilirating going for a swim when the air temperature is nudging zero.
New Years Day 2016 meant the annual get together for the Wild West Swimmers at Luss on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond. We rarely swim here in the summer, as there is either too much boat traffic, or too many cars in the car park. However, on a brisk January morning we almost had the place to ourselves. The recent period of wet weather has had its influence on the Loch, with the water level a couple of metres higher than the summer. So the beach was almost non-existent as we all tramped down the path.
I remember my first swim in Scotland a mere 12 months previously to the day. I had arrived at Luss on New Years day 2015 full of anticipation, only to be defeated by the cold water after a dip of almost a minute.
This year was very different, as I had adjusted to water temperatures that used to be experienced in a cold drink on a hot day. I was the second person into the water, and sure it was cold (just under 7c), but I stayed in. I even swam 250 metres out past the pier before returning to do the oblogatory leap off the pier. Though this year it was such a short drop to the water.
I even took the top of my wetsuit off and went back in for a paddle in the water. It felt great too, and perhaps in the summer I will start swimming more without a wetsuit. I was even the second last person out of the water this time.
It was great to see a group of twenty or so swimmers all enjoying themselves with a swim on New Years Day in Scotland. A big thanks for the various photographers who provided some of these snaps.