The Swift Swimmer has now mostly recovered from her recent illness and celebrated (naturally) by swimming! Towards the end of our rainy Scottish summer we have had several perfect days of sunshine and calm weather – perfect conditions for an 86-year-old to take to the seas – which she did THREE DAYS IN A ROW! We are all very proud of her.
We had a week on the Island of Coll recently – it’s unique in having 23 beaches, very rich and varied bird life and is also a Dark Sky Community.
Of course I was keen to try out a new swimming location and we chose a small jewel of a beach on the north west of the island. As we walked down to the beach we gazed out at the horizon – and could make out some of the Outer Hebrides faintly blue in the far distance. Daisy meanwhile had spotted a field of alpacas and couldn’t quite believe her eyes!
There were some quite big green noisy breakers coming in. A bit scary; and since I wasn’t sure about currents or tides I decided on a quick dip and frolic in the waves, keeping close to the shore to avoid being swept out to America. Walls of green water rose up, curled over, smashed me down, then fizzed and frothed along the white sand. Intervals of smaller waves while the sea rested, then a series of big shiny translucent monsters rolled in – and I ran for the shore!
Beautiful pink smooth rocks rose high at each side of the beach and having reluctantly finished my swim I climbed along these, sometimes lying down on a smooth hot rock to warm up. Between the colossal boulders lining the shore were crystal clear rock pools, which filled and frothed and foamed with each huge breaker – giant Atlantic Jacuzzis – which were so enticing that I plunged in and enjoyed the cool bubbly sensation, the pool being refreshed with every wave.
My sister Ailsa meanwhile practised her hooping skills against the fabulous backdrop, while the Swift Swimmer, recuperating from illness, watched from the sidelines.
For a quieter swim I chose Loch Breachacha, close to the two castles, which slopes very gradually and feels very safe and sheltered. There I had a long swim in the rain, and floated on my back, watching the Arctic Terns, which were feeding there; graceful birds like sharp little arrows. One decided it wanted me to leave and dive-bombed me repeatedly until I did!
We visited at midsummer, at which time the sky never darkens, and it is broad daylight until well past 11.00pm! Thus I’m planning a return visit in wintertime for a magical starlit swim.
Stuart recently took part in a training session at the National Swim Academy. Here’s his report:
Open Water Swim Training
National Swim Academy, Stirling University, 31 May 2015
The Intermediate Open-Water Swim Training held on the 31st May 2015 by Scottish Swimming was a good bite-size session which gave instruction and practice of a few good techniques for both understanding the difference between pool-swimming and open-water-swimming – such important differences which regular pool swimmers may not naturally think to consider, yet make a massive difference.
A technique such as sighting – literally, looking where you are going – is so common that it normally comes naturally to us all. In a swimming pool straight-line swimming is aided by the pool lanes, tiles, pool-edge, lighting, ceiling beams etc. but open-water doesn’t have any of these helpful markings. Being able to repeatedly look where you are going takes not only the knowledge that you have to check, but a simple (when practiced) new swim technique in order to be able to do so without breaking your stroke, and therefore keeping up momentum and rhythm.
Other techniques such as drafting other swimmers (literally swimming close behind them) to benefit from lessened water resistance and thus improved stroke efficiency (less effort), also help make swimming (in pool or loch) physically easier.
In the end, anything which helps swimmers improve their open water swimming ability is only going to make the prospect of entering freezing cold water far less daunting, and possibly more enjoyable.
Stuart Campbell, Mid Argyll Wild Swimmers
Scottish Swimming has a programme of other adult coached sessions coming up for people who would like to get involved in swimming.
The swim series includes three open water events over the summer:
- Saturday 6th June at the Helix Lagoon, Falkirk,
- Saturday 11th July at Knockburn Sports Loch near Banchory
- Sunday 23rd August at Loch Lomond
Local, weekly coached sessions are available and listed on the website: www.scottishswimming.com
A trip to Ballachulish and Glencoe last week gave me the chance to experience a new swimming location and on a sunny warm morning I set off to Cuil Bay, close to Duror village in Appin. Turning off the main road I passed a tiny, stone built moss-clad bridge, now bypassed by a new road. Primroses peeked from its nooks and crannies and daffodils bobbed their heads brightly. I thought of all the people who had journeyed to the Highlands over this ancient bridge in centuries past.
Continuing along the single-track road, it wasn’t long before Cuil Bay opened out before me – a beautiful pebble beach with stunning views onto Loch Linnhe and the mountains surrounding it – some nearly 3000 ft and still dusted with spring snow – and on to Lismore Island and, in the distance, the Island of Mull. Eider duck and barnacle geese were happily pottering around. Gorse bushes were in full bloom and scented the air. It was calm and quiet – perfect for a morning swim.
I’d been told it was a popular bathing spot but the water still being cold, there were no other swimmers around. Being unfamiliar with the location I decided to keep close to the shore and swim along the beach within my depth. I paddled in (being careful not to disturb the geese) and set off – first the shock of the cold, then a few minutes of gritted teeth, and then the familiar delightful sensation of being quite comfortable in the cold water. Floating on my back and gazing around at the dramatic scenery I counted the mighty mountain peaks – easily more than twenty! The mountains to the west are part of Kingairloch, beyond which lies Morvern and the peninsula of Ardnamurchan; to the northwest Ardgour, Sunart and Moidart; and to the north, Scotland’s highest peak Ben Nevis near Fort William. Of course, none of this is in present day Argyll, but historically the county of Argyll did include these areas. They are so stunning and so close to Argyll that visitors really ought not to miss out – after seeing Argyll first!
Revelling in the gentle sunshine and the majestic views all around me I floated happily for 15 minutes, looking north, south, east and west, on this beautiful spring morning. Far across the loch I could see white fluffy shapes, and beside them tiny white specks – the sheep with their spring lambs!
After my swim I headed straight back to the hotel, where I was able to sit by a roaring log fire and enjoy further views of the loch and mountains while warming up with a pot of tea. I don’t believe Scotland’s scenery can be beaten anywhere in the world.
Beautifully apt description and drawing of winter swimmers by Nancy Farmer!
Originally posted on Cat-of-the-Day:
This is the recovery position for winter swimmers, not for drunk people. Though addled brains, an inability to speak in long sentences and a tendency to throw your drink all over the place are common to both conditions. You probably haven’t known shivering until you have known winter swimming, And still I persist in finding it strangely amusing.
Here’s Martin’s guest post about some beautiful swims on his recent visit to Galway:
We were driving west out of Galway along the promenade at Salthill, dreaming of an Atlantic dip, when we spotted a fantastic diving tower. Slamming on the brakes, we parked and jumped out of the car into the glorious sunny morning. It’s the luck of the draw what weather you get in Ireland (as in Argyll), but we had hit upon a week of warm sunshine. As we rounded the corner into the changing area of lemon and orange paintwork there was an immediate sense of camaraderie amongst a group of oldies, who obviously meet and swim and chat here every day. And today was a day to linger in the shelter that faced the sun and the 1950s art deco diving tower. But it wasn’t just old regulars here: there was a steady stream of young guys, older guys and gals, and even a couple of tourists, keen to sample the waters of Galway Bay.
The following day, the waters beckoned again. This time at the sandy stretch of Renvyle beach, surrounded by high hills and again bathed in bright sunshine, which threw light across the top of the surf, making it sparkle and glisten.
Haven’t seen the film or read the book but I have done the swims! And boy am I glad those winter swims are OVER! We’ve swum in wind, hail, snow, ice, storms, sleet, rain, mist and fog. But suddenly, Spring is here! We’re being dazzled by sunshine and clear skies, and it’s a joy to swim in gorgeous green cool water and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Months of lovely swimming lie ahead and I, for one, am looking forward to it immensely. To celebrate I’ve been bidding on a vintage swimsuit on eBay…. fingers crossed!
Here’s two cartoons by my talented nephew Kelvin: the first one shows a scene from a recurring nightmare Lottie has about being chased up the road by the local Sheriff, after her morning swim, casting garments left and right in her haste to escape his ogling eyes. Thankfully this event has never happened in real life!
Next up is a happier scene in which Lottie and me (scoffing champagne) are luxuriating in the hot tub, while being towed along by Captain Duggie’s fishing boat, serenaded by seals. Again, this is just a dream!
Hear some of Kelvin’s music here, with his band “All the luck in the World”.
- Away swims
- Awesome swims
- Club swims
- Daft stuff
- Holiday swims
- Hot tub
- Isle of Coll
- Open Water Training
- Picnic swims
- Quick stuff
- River swims
- Silver Strand
- Standing stones
- Storm swims
- Sublime swims
- Sunny swims
- Swim Safaris
- The Swift Swimmer
- Winter swims
- Winter training swims