Has anyone ever swum across Loch Ness?

ThomasJOutramThomasJOutram Member
edited August 2016 in General Discussion
Has anyone ever completed a solo crossing of Loch Ness? I can't find any record of it anywhere, and given the temperature rarely rises above 7 degrees even in the summer, 23miles seems an incredibly long way.


  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 2012
    On http://openwaterswimming.eu/node/2367
    (with the original article on http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2010/11/michael-read-reaches-hall-of-fae.html) you can read:
    "He was the third person to swim the 38.6K (24-mile) Loch Ness in 14 hours and 23 minutes in 6°-7°C (42.8°-44.7°F) water."

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • Impressive! Thanks for that.
  • loneswimmerloneswimmer IrelandAdmin
    edited September 2012
    Kevin Murphy, King of the Channel told me he did it in the 70s (I think, maybe 80s). I think other English Channel Legend and, sadly no longer with us, Des Renford, also did so, and if I recall they even raced each other down it.
  • NiekNiek Heiloo, NetherlandsCharter Member
    edited September 2012
    to date only nine swimmers have been recorded by the BLDSA
    read the page from the excellent H2Openmagazine issue April2012

    I don't think Simon Griffits will mind my copying it.
    You can subscribe here https://www.escosubs.co.uk/h2open/index.asp.

    Link to the page: http://content.yudu.com/A1waru/H20penApril2012/resources/20.htm

    http://openwaterswimming.eu - Cold, wind, waves, sunburn, currents, jellyfish and flotsam! Hop in and join the fun!

  • IronMikeIronMike Moscow, RussiaCharter Member
    BTW, H2Open magazine is worth subscribing to, no matter what side of the pond you live on. Love it!
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaCharter Member
    I spoke with Tammy van Wisse a year back about her Loch Ness journey in August 1999, and she recommended Caley Cruisers for an escort boat. Although, they sent me an amazing welcome packet in the mail, I do not recall that they were able to "escort" me across the Loch. Richard Clifford (reknowned paddler for Tammy, as well as Penny Palfrey and MANY NYC Swim events) is an excellent resource as he also accompanied her during her Loch Ness swim. Hope this helps!

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited March 29

    Can any of our resident Loch Ness swimmers or someone associated with BLDSA tell us if this is a complete list of people who have completed unassisted swims of the length of Loch Ness?

    And if anyone can fill in any missing months/days and route directions, that would be awesome too.

    [Please see @ZoeSadler's post below for the most recent list of BLDSA-ratified Loch Ness swims].

    This is pieced together from BLDSA's annual recognized swim lists (1995-present), plus manually looking up details of the first three swims (Sherratt, Read, Murphy), plus a DNOWS article about Stella Taylor's 1981 swim.

    Tammy Van Wisse is often mentioned in connection with Loch Ness, but my interpretation of various sketchy accounts leads me to believe it was in a wetsuit. Please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

    I do not know why complete information about this iconic swim is so hard to find.

  • ssthomasssthomas Charter Member
    edited March 29

    We had this issue when we (Craig, Elaine and I) swam it. @Fil and @emkhowley did some research and may have some updated info. Also, @ZoeSadler took over some BLDSA functions and my impression is that she is much more organized and detail oriented than her predecessor. She may have some other/updated info. And, of course @Helbe is local and may have some info.

    I don't remember where I heard this- but Tammy Van Wisse was definitely in a wetsuit.

  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    Yes, it's my understanding that Tammy was wetsuited, too. I'm attaching a screenshot of a spreadsheet that @Fil and I had worked on when we were trying to get a more complete list out of the BLDSA back in 2015 when we did the swim.

    Note, in @evmo's list above the date for my, Sarah, and Craig's swims should actually be August 22, 2015.

    I can't recall where we found mention of David Morgan's supposed double-crossing, but if in fact it's true, that's incredible. I can't imagine spending an additional 10 hours in the water. Simply amazing. Same with Brenda Sherratt. Like, whoa...

    Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 14.05.15


    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elainekhowley.com/

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member

    Hi, I've got a list of all of the swims that have been recognised by the BLDSA. I'll post it in the next day or so once I log onto my computer. Hopefully this will help.

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member

    Here is the list of Loch Ness solo swims that have been recognised by the BLDSA.

    I am aware that there are a very small number of swimmers who may have completed private swims of the Loch, but these swims were not submitted for swim recognition.

    Please note that the BLDSA does not recognise assisted swims.

    1. 1966 BRENDA SHERRATT 31 hrs 27 mins
    2. 30th August 1970 RON FLETCHER 14 hrs 1 min
    3. 17th August 1974 MICHAEL READ 14 hrs 24 mins 46 secs
    4. 14th July 1976 KEVIN MURPHY 10 hrs 30 mins
    5. 22nd August 1981 DAVID MORGAN 12 hrs 19 mins 28 secs
    6. 31st July 1983 DAVID MORGAN 9 hrs 57 mins
    7. 1st August 1983 DAVID MORGAN (second leg of TWO WAY) Total time 23 hrs 4 mins (one way split 13hrs 7 mins)
    8. 14th August 1984 KEVIN McINTOSH 15 hrs 31 mins 4 secs
    9. 20th August 1995 RACHEL R. GODBURN 9 hrs 25 mins 37 secs
    10. 23rd August 1997 COLLEEN I. BLAIR 14 hrs 32 mins 7 seconds
    11. 15th August 2004 LIANE LLEWELLYN 9 hrs 49 mins 24 secs
    12. 19th August 2008 MICHAEL CROSS 12 hrs 9 mins 15 secs
    13. 27th July 2013 JAMES LEITCH 10 hrs 50 mins 09 secs
    14. 2nd August 2015 MARCELLA MACDONALD 11 hrs 59 mins 8 secs
    15. 22nd August 2015 SARAH THOMAS 10 hrs 52 mins 0 secs
    16. 22nd August 2015 ELAINE K HOWLEY 13 hrs 21 mins 41 secs
    17. 22nd August 2015 CRAIG LENNING 13 hrs 47 mins 24 secs
    18. 1st-2nd August 2016, HELEN BEVERIDGE, 18hrs 22mins 16secs

    If you believe this list to be incorrect, please do let me know.

    FYI I have been informed that David Morgan has swum the Loch four times and I am currently trying to verify this by looking through the archives.

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited March 29

    Thank you @ZoeSadler !! So cool to have an authoritative list of Loch Ness swims.

    David Morgan's two-way (9:57 + 13:07 == 23:04) in 1983 must rank as one of the all-time greatest marathon swims, yet is very much off the radar of contemporary swimmers I think.

    IMSHOF honoree Stella Taylor was reported by American media to have completed this swim in 1981, but apparently did not apply for BLDSA recognition.

    Sounds like Tammy Van Wisse is confirmed as wearing a wetsuit for her 1999 swim. Disappointing that she still claims a "World Record for fastest length of Loch Ness."

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member

    ThomasJOutram said: Has anyone ever completed a solo crossing of Loch Ness? I can't find any record of it anywhere, and given the temperature rarely rises above 7 degrees even in the summer, 23miles seems an incredibly long way.

    Not sure where the temperature quoted arises from but it is inaccurate. While still a cold swim, the summer temps are often 10-14C depending on the wind conditions. Windy conditions can bring the colder water from depth to the surface and considerably reduce the surface temperatures.

    I completed a relay on 27 July 2013 following an extended rare period of calm sunny weather and the water temps were 15C. That's the most I've known it get to. James Leitch swam his solo the same day. He returned just a week later to try and beat the record...and the temperature had dropped to just 10C and he called it quits after an hour or so.

    In winter the water gets no lower than about 4C although the wind chill can be considerable and the edges can be icy.

    Thanks Zoe for responding with list of swims.

    Tammy definitely had neoprene socks at the very least as in the photos available of there swim 'record'. Local reports suggest full wetsuit for some of the time as she had tried and struggled to cope with the temperatures.

  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    The water was 51for the first hour or two and came up to about 54/55 F for a large portion of the swim the day we swam in August 2015 (10.5-13C). I don't think there were any readings above 55 from our crews, but it's entirely possible there were and I wasn't aware of it. It was cold out there (fucking freezing is the more accurate description), but definitely not 7C. I shivered HARD for well over an hour after I got out. It was an exhausting, awful recovery--I'm actually not sure I've gotten back to "normal" since then. It took at least 6 months to feel like I was even a little back to usual in the pool, and my times have not yet returned to pre-Loch Ness levels. Easily the hardest swim I've done.


    Stop me if you've heard this one... A grasshopper walks into a bar... https://elainekhowley.com/

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