Thursday, August 6, 2015

Open Water Swimming Championships 'Venachar Mile Challenge' 16 Aug 2015

A trip to the Trossachs is always fun – the scenery is fantastic and Callandar has a Christmas Shop that ‘s open all year.  But next weekend there’s an added incentive to take a day trip as the Scottish Open Water Swimming Championships are being held at Loch Venachar on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August. 

The Trossachs are like the Highlands in miniature and Loch Venachar is one of many stunning lochs in the area.  It’s just a couple of miles outside of the picturesque town of Callander, which is itself just 15 miles north of the motorway network at Stirling.

The Loch Venachar Sailing Club – which is as lovely as it sounds – will be the centre of the action.  On Saturday there are championship races covering 2km, 5km, a 4x500m relay and a special 1km race for juniors.  The swimmers will be competing in age categories ranging from 13-14 years to 55 plus. On Sunday there’s the impressive sounding 10km challenge.  What’s more impressive is that you can only win the championship if you swim without wearing a wetsuit. 

Scott Deans from the City of Glasgow Swim Team won last year’s 10km men’s challenge in a time of 2:24:15, just three seconds ahead of club colleague James Leitch.  Alyshia McCracken from Grangemouth ASC won the 10km women’s challenge in 2:25:52.

On Saturday there is action from 1030am until 6pm;  On Sunday the 10km starts at 10am, with swimmers given four hours to finish the challenge.  There are plenty of places along the shoreline to watch the swimmers and, combined with a picnic, if the weather is good offers an excellent day out.  There’s also the sailing club and the “Venachar Lochside” restaurant on the opposite shore.

If you do head up to Loch Venachar, don’t be tempted to jump in and follow the swimmers – stick to spotting the colourful (and compulsory) swimming caps and possibly a little paddling along the shoreline.  The contestants will be closely monitored by event marshals and any sign of hypothermia will have them whipped out of the water faster than they can say “I’m freeezzzzing”.  There are strict cut off times for each event – take longer than 45minutes to swim the 1km and you’ll be ordered out of the water.  It’s one hour for 2km and two hours for 5km.

If you have already been to a Scottish Swimming “come and try” event or you are already a competent swimmer and ready to try some outdoor action, then after the 10km challenge on Sunday you can take part in the “Venachar Mile Challenge”.  It’s open to anybody aged thirteen and older, wetsuits are compulsory and you’ll get a full safety briefing and assistance from exceptionally well trained instructors.  You’ll have one hour to swim the mile and see the scenery of the Trossachs from a totally different perspective.  

To book a space for the Venachar Mile Challenge - please click here