2017 Year in Review

Well 2017 was certainly another fantastic year with lots of swimming adventures. I will get the boring statistics out of the way first:-

  • I competed in three swimming events with top ten finishes in all of them;
  • I swam a total of 285 km on 167 different swims of which 140 of the swims were outdoors;
  • I swam in six countries over the year: Portugal, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, England and of course Scotland.

But they of course do not tell the whole story, so here is the summary of the year.


Luss Pier at dawn in early January

In January I continued my winter skins swimming in Scotland, with the coldest water of 4.0c on New Years Day in Loch Lomond.


Ben Lomond wearing a skirt of fog in early January 2017, and reflected in Loch Lomond

In February I competed at the British Ice Swimming Championships in the 50m sprint event, and took a silver medal to another Australian. It sure felt great for us warm water swimmers to take the first two places. The water was 4.2c that day, and there were snow showers blowing across the event location on the shores of Loch Lomond.


Ben Lomond after a dump of snow in mid January 2017, and taken from the water



The location of the Ice Swimming Champs on Loch Lomond in Feb 2017. The wind freshened, the snow showers swept through, and the waves kept getting bigger.

In March and April I continued my skins swimming in Scotland as the water warmed to 6c in March, and then to 10c by the end of April even though winter had finished. The thermal properties of water is something you become very aware of: it takes longer to warm up then the land, and longer to cool down too.


Loch Ard on a peaceful still morning in April 2017. The water was only 6c.

May was the visit to Corfu for some wonderful swimming in The Ionian Sea, which was extremely pleasant after swimming through the Scottish winter. Before moving to the UK, I would have struggled to swim in that Greek water, but now it was a breeze to have the private beach to myself. I would go for a swim at dawn before breakfast, and another swim in the afternoon.


Dawn breaks over the Ionian Sea and the Greek mainland

Upon my return to Scotland I swam around Inchtavannach an island in Loch Lomond. This is a wonderful 5km swim with amazing vistas and is also a good chance to stay in the water for a couple of hours.


The view from the narrows between Inchtavannach and Inchconnachan in Loch Lomond, looking towards Luss and Ben Lomond (behind the clouds)

June mid-summer in Scotland with enough light to swim in from 4am to 11pm. It would be a crime not to take advantage of that, so I did. The solstice dawn swim on 21 June was one such day, where we hit the water as the sun rose at around 4am. This required a departure from home at 3am to get to Loch Lomond, but what a glorious morning it was. The water was a warm 16c, and the colours in the sky were just amazing.


Swimmers prepare to enter the water at Duck Bay on Loch Lomond just before dawn on the summer solstice 2017

I also did a 7km swim n Loch Lomond to support a channel swimmer in training, and also swam in the sea at Troon several times with a relay team that were aiming to swim to Scotland from Northern Island. This MAD mother and daughter team did just that, becoming the first such team to swim the North Channel, and then 2 weeks later they did the English Channel. Huge effort.


Looking across the Corryvreckan towards Scarba from Jura, the route of our swim

July was the trip to Corryvreckan, which is the 3rd largest whirlpool on the planet. I had organised 3 swims for around 35 swimmers over the weekend, and we were fortunate that the weather stayed favourable. We had a great time staying a few nights close by, and having a lot of fun. I did swim the Corryvreckan in skins with a whale passing by, and that water was doing odd things, even at slack tide. A very memorable experience made so much better by the company of such good friends.


The island on the left is Jura and the opposite one is Scarba. The water looks benign glistening in the afternoon sun

I also did several longer two and three-hour swims in the Scottish lochs, as the water warmed up to 16c, sometimes in skins, and sometimes in a wetsuit. One such swim was a three hour swim in Loch Ard with a guy who was training to swim the length of Loch Lomond (35km) in the late summer (which he did, well done Gary).

On a non-swimming event, I also had the honour of attending a Garden Party hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Holyrood in Edinburgh. I was fortunate to get a ticket through the Australian High Commission who are allocated tickets each year. It was so much fun seeing so many Scots dressed in kilts on a cold July day, and to be within five metres of the Duke of Edinburgh at one stage.


Our fast transport to Kilcreggan before our swim across the Clyde to Greenock in the distance

The month of August gave me the opportunity to do many 2 to 3 km swims in the warm waters of the various local lochs. You really have to take advantage of the short summer. I also competed in two events, the cross Clyde swim, and one of favourite events the boutique Pier to Pub in Loch Lomond. I did both of these in wetsuits for a change, and the Pier swim was a tough one, swimming into a strong wind and chop the whole way. To give you an idea of the impact of that: the race is always over the same course. In 2015, I did the distance in 36 minutes in a wetsuit. This year wearing the wetsuit again, it took 49 minutes due to the impact of the conditions.


The competitors huddled at the start of the Pier to Pub swim in Loch Lomond in August 2017

September was a big month of swimming. At the start of the month, there was the Ten Lochs Challenge, where we swim in 10 lochs in one day. I decided to try to do one km in each loch in skins, but fell just short doing 9km over the day. A truly memorable day with 30 other swimmers all having fun, and enjoying the best of Scotland. Each loch is different, with different scenery, different tasting water, yet so close together. Hopefully we can make this an annual event.


The mist as it lifts off Loch Voil, the second loch in our Ten Loch Challenge in early September 2017

The other adventure was going to Montenegro for a swimming adventure holiday with George, Vince and Kirsty. Now that place is breathtaking with its vistas, as we swam in fjords, rivers, lakes and The Adriatic. And a trip to that part of the world has to be bookended by a few days in Dubrovnik. An incredible trip, with lots of new swim friends made.



The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro with a storm approaching over the mountains in late September 2017

The last three months were the slide into winter, trying to acclimatise myself to swimming skins in the lochs, as mentioned in my previous blog entry.


Overall a pretty good year. Bring on 2018.

2 Comments on “2017 Year in Review

  1. Wow what a huge year – I feeling tired just thinking of how the hell the managed all that swimming! Sounds like you’re absolutely loving life over there. I have no idea how you cope with the water temperature as I sook when ocean baths as less than about 23 lol!
    My mum is a daily swimmer in the summer and does 40 laps of Lambton pool each morning however she’s just turned 82 and her shoulder is starting to give her grief so I’m not sure she will get much freestyle in this year.
    Lovely photos too Greg and makes me want to go back to Scotland every time I see them – sigh – one day!
    Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Jen, yes it was a good year of swimming. You will just have to wait to see what I did in 2018, and I can assure you, it made 2017 look like a quiet year. If you do manage to travel, let me know.

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