Inspiring beginner swimmers take to Loch Lomond to be coached by Olympian for Great Scottish Swim

Great Scottish Swim ambassador Keri-anne Payne was on the banks of Loch Lomond today (26 June) to hold a special masterclass for a group of inspiring beginner open-water swimmers.

Set to take place in beautiful Loch Lomond on Saturday 25 August for the sixth consecutive year, the Great Scottish Swim gives participants the chance to swim in the stunning surroundings of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

2008 Olympic silver medallist and two- time World Champion swimmer Keri-anne was on hand to offer advice to amateur swimmers, as well as provide them with a bespoke training plan that will help them complete the 1-mile distance at the event.

Each of the swimmers has their own personal reason for taking part:

Derek Mackie, from Edinburgh, is taking on the Great Scottish Swim for the first time following the passing of his wife Karen 18 months ago.

Karen died age 50 after suffering from heart problems following an operation to replace her valves that she never recovered from.

Derek decided to enter the swim as part of a series of challenges he’s doing to keep Karen’s memory alive and to fundraise for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland.

70-year-old Christine Cargill, from Falkirk, started swimming to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support following the death of her close friend nine years ago.

She took part in all of the Great Swims in 2011, supporting Macmillan as her son was also a consultant for the charity.

After taking a break due to a shoulder injury, she is determined to take part in the 1-mile distance at the Great Scottish Swim this year for Macmillan as she believes swimming is something she knows she can do even as she gets older.

Rebekah McNeill, from South Ayrshire, was a champion club swimmer when she was younger but gave up the sport when she was studying for her exams.

She’s taking on her first open water swimming challenge as a way of getting back into swimming again.

Harvey Lister, from Larbert, is taking on the 1-mile distance for the first time, having had his first taste of open water swimming last year.

Since completing his challenge last summer, he has been a regular in his local pool and decided to enter the event in order to share his love of swimming with his daughter, who competes for Falkirk Otters Swimming Club.

Keri-anne said: “It was great to meet all of these incredible swimmers ahead of the Great Scottish Swim. They all have such different reasons for taking on the event and they are all so inspiring.

“Swimming in Loch Lomond is an incredible experience; the setting is so beautiful and it’s great fun on the day with an incredible atmosphere. With so many distance options available, there is a swim to suit everyone.

“I would encourage everyone to dive in to the challenge and take part in the Great Scottish Swim, no matter what your ability.”

Over 2,000 people are expected to take on a range of distances on 25 August, from an introductory 250 metre course for those aged eight years old and over, all the way through to a gruelling 10k marathon swim.

The Great Scottish Swim is the final event in the Great Swim, Europe’s biggest open water swim series, that sees swimmers compete in three events in lakes and reservoirs across the UK.

Gordon Watson, Chief Executive of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “We’re delighted to once again host the Great Scottish Swim and to welcome Keri-anne and all the swimmers taking part in today’s masterclass.

“The class is a unique opportunity to get one to one expert advice from an Olympic medalist and experience the spectacular surroundings of Loch Lomond ahead of the event later this year.

“The National Park is a beautiful place with lots of opportunities to get out on the water and enjoy all the benefits of open water swimming.  The Great Scottish Swim is a fantastic showcase for the sport and I’m sure this year’s event will be another huge success.”

Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, said: “For these four lucky swimmers, this year’s Great Scottish Swim is going to be an extra special experience.

“Not only will they have the chance to take part in an open water swim in one of Scotland’s most beautiful Lochs, which only a few weeks earlier would have hosted Europe’s best swimmers as part of the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, but they get to do it under the expert guidance of one of Britain’s best swimmers.”

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