At 22 miles long, 230m deep and with temperatures as low as 7 degrees, less than 30 people have completed this challenge according to the British Long Distance Swimming Association Marathon Swim Database. Helen will be supported by a pilot and crew and will adopt Channel Swimming Rules, which means she will be wearing a standard swimming costume, a hat and a pair of goggles – no wetsuits are allowed.

The swim itself will be from Fort Augustus in the South to Loch End in the North and she is hoping to spot the friendly Loch Ness Monster lurking somewhere in the depths along the way.

Helen will be taking on the challenge in August 2020 and she will be sharing her training journey with us all through this blog. 

Here is Helen's first training blog post from October 2019:

It is now less than 300 days until my slot opens to swim the length of Loch Ness solo.  Although this seems a long time away, from past experience I know that it will soon come round. 

For most people outdoor swim training has now stopped and people have moved to the pool where it is considerably warmer.  On the basis that the water temperature in Loch Ness is unlikely to get much above 12 degrees centigrade, I cant afford the luxury of warm pool swimming!  In order to be able to swim for a prolonged period of time, probably 10 hours or more, I need to do as much training as I can in cold water.  Therefore, when most others are in pools, I am still out in local lakes and rivers training.  This will continue right through the winter into next year so that I can acclimatise to the cold water. 

Having said this, I actually went on holiday to Cyprus for two weeks at the beginning of October and although I still trained every morning in the sea, it was very warm compared to the UK!  I returned to the UK at 2am and was in a local river at 8am.  That was definitely a shock to the system but a brilliant start to my cold water training!

The water temperature is currently about 12 degrees centigrade in the rivers and lakes.  This is slowly dropping and I anticipate that it will soon go below the treasured 10 degree mark. 

 I am currently nursing a shoulder injury and am working on my technique during the week in the pool.  This pool training is vitally important so that I can adjust my technique to make me as efficient as possible in the water.  At the weekend, I have been swimming at least 2k on Saturdays and Sundays in the river or lake (more about the relevance of this in my next blog).  Whilst not a massive distance, it is more about the time spent in the water acclimatising, rather than the distance swam.  As the temperature drops, it will become more and more difficult to maintain this amount of time and distance in the water.  I train with my sister who will stay in the water for as long as she feels able.  In addition, I have a land based safety crew to make sure that I am ok during my swim and also afterwards. 

When the temperatures start to decrease there is a real risk of hypothermia.  Hypothermia happens when someone’s body temperature drops below 35 degrees and can become life threatening very quickly. Not only is safety during the swim important but post swim recovery is equally important due to a thing called ‘after drop’.  After drop happens because when I am swimming my body will shut down circulation to my skin so that my blood is concentrated in my core.  After a cold water swim, as I start to warm up this process reverses and the warm blood in my core goes to my extremities, cooling as it travels.  A person can lose up to 4.5 degrees centigrade from their core temperature at this time.  Measures are put in place to ensure that this after drop is managed safely.

My sister and I are both completing a Winter Swim Course in Surrey on 3 November 2019 which will develop our knowledge of cold water swimming, the risks involved, how to monitor swimmers and post swim recovery.  This will be vitally important for my sister as she will be my support crew on the boat for the Loch Ness Swim. 

If you have any questions about my swim or my training, please email me on [email protected]

If you would like to sponsor me please visit my Orpheus fundraising page at donate.giveasyoulive.com/fundraising/helens-loch-ness-swim