The good, the bad and the Algae

We are now in the middle of what we must call summer, Scotland doesn’t often get the sunshine for any more than a nanosecond but we have been baked in glorious sunshine for the past 10 days and this can have a huge positives for us Open Water Swimmers but also many issues.

IMG_2502

As you can see from the image above the wet suit is still on but once i had banked the 4 miles training swim we ditched the suits and i have to say it was the warmest i have ever felt Loch Lomond for a suites swim, it was the equivalent of the swimming pool on holiday, chilly at first but once swimming for enjoyable.

With the sunshine also brings the negatives, we were swimming in Castle Semple Loch earlier in the week, this is the shallow loch that we used at the start of the year which is a very shallow Loch and holds the temperature well. We went for a swim on tuesday night and the Loch’s water quality had changed, it was like soup, i hadn’t witnessed the Blue Green Algae bloom previously but you just knew it was present. Rightly so, the local parks authority issued the warning the following day.

I mentioned last week that there are dangers and we met a few then with Jet skies, speed boats and even Water Planes. Yesterday we met what i consider to be the biggest danger- the rowers. All other water users no matter how fast they are travelling are facing towards you and we make ourselves as noticeable as possible, rowers are oblivious to what is going on behind and in Loch Lomond there isn’t any rowing lanes so we need to mind read.

I’m always courteous to them all and try to engage in a chat, coaches and younger rowers seem pleasant but we met an older couple on Saturday who were far too superior in their rowing boats, when i asked the question what part of the Loch will they be rowing in so we can stay out of their way the answer was firm “Don’t know”

I need to thank my swimming partner this weekend, Robert Heron, without him i would have been on my own and for safety reasons wouldn’t have managed to get a decent swim in. He’s another fish, we headed out to the green and red buoys without the wetsuits on the way back in he breaks into 50M of Butterfly and flies past my plod of a front crawl. Previously i would have been very annoyed that he was able to pass me so easily, now i just have to watch and admire!

So here i am sat at the computer tapping away with 6 weeks to go until the planned big day. How do i feel? I actually feel good, I am aware that we have only done a few larger swims at 4, 5 and 8 miles but we have certainly trained the strength into our shoulders.

Onwards an upwards!

Advertisements

The Lady of the Loch – Mood swings

What a morning, after heading to bed in the early hours of the mornings the alarm went off at 5.50, normally this is too early for me especially with only 4 hours kip. However with the sun shining in the windows and my velux it was a pleasure to roll out of bed and head downstairs for my mandatory bowl of porridge and coffee.

Image

(The image above was from last year but we visited this spot twice today and i wanted to take my iPhone out of the bag and copy the shot, however the waves wouldn’t let me even get my balance to even attempt the selfie)

Big Chris and I had organised to meet at the Car Park at the Maid of the Loch at 6.50 to ensure we were in the water for 7am. What greeted us was one of the mornings we dream of, calm waters, bright blue sky and warm in the air; however what we were about to experience over the next 3 hours was a roller coaster.

We headed into the water and set the ‘Mapmyrun’ on my iPhone (If you are wondering how i swim with my phone – I have one of the water sealed orange buoys which drag behind us when swimming, great for not getting hit by boats!!) and were straight to the first yellow buoy. As stated earlier the water was crystal clear, calm with the sun glistening on every breathe, at this yellow buoy the first mention of Inchmurrin arose and we totally believe “The Lady of the Loch” heard this conversation, as we headed off due North and into the open waters you could feel the air pressure changing and the swell of the water beginning. The land geography in a nutshell is shelter for the first mile then the Loch opens up and at this stage we felt the changes.

Call me a coward, i call it sensible, as soon as we felt the swell and the change in conditions we both made the decision to turn and swim the distance required in more sheltered waters, the lady didn’t think we were ready to bridge the return journey to Inchmurrin (6 miles) so we duly accepted her opinion and turned due west toward Duck Bay. I have taken on the female species for most of my life and usually end up losing the argument. Therefore when the Lady of the Loch informed us that she didn’t want us to proceed we duly obliged.

Once we were back into the more sheltered waters the Loch changed again back into the tranquil place that we all love, however that only lasted for about 30 minutes as what can only be described as a temper tantrum raged through the Loch once again – the swell returned

Now i have to let you know a secret about Big Chris “Shoulders” McGrenary, he is an absolute powerhouse through the water, that is the flat calm swimming pool water but in the chop he struggles and this makes me feel a far better swimmer than i actually am, as he struggles and i feel great! bonus.

2 and a half hours into the swim and about 4.5 miles done we notice another group of swimmers heading back towards us at the well known stopping point “The Witches Hat”. As we hadn’t seen anyone since we left we stopped to have a chat an they were proud to tell us they had been to Cameron House and back and had been in the water for 40 minutes and heading back pretty tired. Its moments like these that have made me embarrassed previously by blurting out our morning achievement, so i decided to keep quiet. However “Shoulders” responded in a way that i may have done a few years ago “we got in at 7am and are approx 4 miles into our swim”

Needless to say both groups headed off in different directions thereafter and later in Costa for cake and coffee, the big man asked if that sounded a bit big headed? “Not at all big man” was my response

So there you have the first long distance LL swim of the year in the bag, 3 hours and 5 minutes with a distance of 4.98 miles. Very pleased with that until you realise only another 19.02 miles to go!!