The inaugural Scottish Winter Swimming Championships took place last weekend at Taymouth Marina, Aberfeldy, with OSS Ambassador Calum Maclean taking a top award and OSS Swim Champ Lindsey Cole just about making her butterfly race on time as she completed Dipping to Scotland. With the water temperature at 4.9C, it was just cold enough to be classed as ice swimming.
“I am incredibly pleased with how the day went,” said Alice Goodridge of event organisation SwimWild. “Despite some very challenging weather conditions, with snow, sleet, rain and gale force winds, the marina remained sheltered and calm for the races. The wild weather did not phase the hardy Scottish swimmers who swam brilliantly and danced in their Dryrobes to stay warm.”
Races included 50m breaststroke, freestyle and butterfly, as well as a 450m freestyle. Calum swam in the latter event and won his race category (Male, 30-39 years). “I found it harder work than anticipated!” he says. “The weather constantly changed all day. For my heat, the first of the day, it started snowing with a bitter wind as we walked down to the start. Later in the day we even had periods of sun and flat calm.
“Swimming took place in the marina area, between two pontoons 25m apart. I found the turning at end of lengths a bit disorientating as I’d not trained turning outdoors in the cold – usually doing out-and-back swims. It took me maybe 200m to get into a rhythm – I think a combination of the cold, and the adrenaline of a watching crowd!
“I don’t take part in many organised races and so was surprised when I heard I’d managed to win my race category in the 450m! I suppose being the only person who actually qualified for the category helped, as I was far from the fastest swimmer. Watching the other heats, I was so impressed how quickly some of the other swimmers managed to swim in the cold. There were some top-class swimmers on show. With me being one of the youngest swimmers there, it’d be great to see more young people try the sport – but maybe the toughness to take on the cold comes easier with age?”
“…it’d be great to see more young people try the sport – but maybe the toughness to take on the cold comes easier with age?”
Young and old alike can start training for next year’s event, which is already in the planning stages.
“It has taken a lot of hard work to put on an event like this, but seeing so many smiling faces, amazing swimming and so much laughter and dancing has made it all 1000% worth it,” says Alice. “The idea was to create a fun event that was accessible to all winter swimmers. Imaginative hats were encouraged in the head-up breaststroke event, as well as team fancy dress in the relay races”. As evidenced by the photographs.