Most of my blog entries are about races, long swims, or swim holidays. Today I thought I would just write about the routine fun swims that I do in Scotland over the summer. My normal place to swim is Loch Lomond, but this loch is 36km long, so there are plenty of places to get in to go for a swim. Normally I swim in the mornings with a group of swimmers from the Lomond Loonies, a group formed around ten years ago. It is a very sociable group with a number of triathletes who have done ironman events, others who have conquered the loch (swum the length of Loch Lomond), or undertaken channel swims. Others in the group just love to swim either just in the warmer months or year round and are not interested in any of that running and biking stuff. They also have an annual festive season dinner function which is always well attended where we share yarns about the crazy things they have done over the last year or so.
An early morning swim time means a very early exit from the bed, as it is a thirty minute drive from my flat on the southside of Glasgow. There is rarely much traffic, well apart from the taxis getting people to the airport for those 7am flights to London ( I know where I would rather be), as I leave home just after 5am. I like to get to the meeting point early to take a water temperature, and some photos, and to chat to other members of the group.
From our starting point, there are various options. One option is the black buoy at The Cruin, a 2km round swim, with the advantage of shallow water round the buoy. Another option is Cameron House which is about one mile round swim. Another option is the black buoy near Cameron House Marina, a return swim of about 2.5km. Some have even swum across the loch to near Balloch Castle and back. Another option is to swim to the sticks at Balloch and return, a distance of around 3km.
No matter which option I take, I know that there will be other swimmers around me, though most of them are in wetsuits while I swim without mine. At that time of day there is rarely any boat traffic, apart from the occasional rowers.
At that time of day it is often quite still, and the vistas are just stunning. It is a joy to be alive on these mornings to feel the cool water running around the body as you undertake that aquatic meditation. Just have a look at some of these pictures taken on various mornings.
Like most open water swim groups, the swim is just an excuse to meet for coffee and snacks afterwards, and these are heartily consumed particularly on weekends. During the week there is always the decision to be made to battle the peak hour traffic into Glasgow by staying for a coffee, or trying to beat the worst of it.
I also swim with another social group called Wild West Swimmers, but that tends to be more in the evenings or on Saturdays. On the weekend we would swim somewhere in Loch Lomond, for example the Inchtavannach loop. Other times we would head up into The Trossachs to swim in some of the other loch like Lochs Ard, Chon, Lubnaig, Drunkie, Venachar or Voil. It is always an adventure with these folk too, with lots of banter, cake and coffee.
I know that I am lucky to be able to swim in this part of the world. To organise a swim, all I have to do is look at the weather forecast to see the wind direction, and then decide on a route and meeting point. I do not have to worry about tides, swell, marine life, parking at a crowded beach, sunburn or flies like I used to when I lived in Sydney. Sure the water is colder here, but the scenery is superb, and I can now swim for hours at a time if I want to. Plus like a lot of open water swimmers around the globe that I have swum with, the locals are a nice bunch of folk, with that added bonus of having that wee Glasgae banter.