Thursday, September 15, 2016

Brave Scottish amateur team attempts first ever official open water swim from Arran to Troon

A group of 12 females and one male ranging from 22 to 67 years of age will attempt the first 16 mile official swim from Arran to Troon at the end of this month. The relay swim which is expected to take the two teams a gruelling 12 hours to complete, will raise funds for the RNLI and local Ayrshire charity, The Jo Walters Trust.

The group who call themselves the Arran TrooNautics are mostly all new to open water swimming but have trained hard for the past year to get to the point where their coach and experienced cross Channel swimmer, Chris Sifleet, is confident they can make the crossing.

Some of the team will be in wetsuits but many will not, enabling the swim to meet the criteria to be logged with the British Long Distance Swimming Association. Each swimmer will swim for an hour and then be replaced by the next swimmer, before taking to the water again to complete the 12 hour journey.

The motivations for doing the swim are varied but many of the team have young children and want to prove to themselves they can take on the challenge. They also want to raise awareness for families to make use of the sea and the beautiful beaches that are so accessible to us in Scotland.

“We all have different strengths and are facing varying fears, including the cold, stamina, jellyfish, sea sickness, dark water, basking sharks to name but a few but we are all committed to complete the task and have a good party at the end,” said Annie Howie, whose idea it was to take on the challenge in 2015 when she heard about a group rowing from Arran to Ayr and thought she would like to swim the same piece of water.

Annie and her friends quickly recruited a team which has trained together, and individually, in a variety of ways, including swimming a combined 16 miles in the pool for Sport Relief, and doing a one mile swimming competition in Loch Ken.

“The commitment has been huge, training twice a week for over a year, with most of us having young families and jobs,” said Lucy Johnston, fellow teammate and founder of local charity the Jo Walters Trust, set up in memory of her sister Jo, who died aged 28 in a cycling accident. Jo was passionate about the outdoors and Lucy hopes this will inspire others to follow Jo’s example of getting out and making the most of our natural surroundings. Some of the money raised from the swim will go to fund young carers in Ayrshire to go on an Outward Bound course and the rest of the money will go to the RNLI.

“Training has involved rats, eels, seals, slime, chilblains, wetsuit burns, fear of what lurks beneath the dark water, countless lonely lengths and early mornings and late nights, to name but a few,” adds Lucy. “This has not been a walk in the park but fingers crossed we have done enough to see us safely through to completion and reach our target of £10,000 for our charities.”

Donations to the fund can be made by visiting

The swim will take place one day between 25th and 30th September, when the weather conditions are right with no more than force four windspeed and the water as calm as possible. The team will have 48 hours notice of the swim date.

The team consists of the following members: Annie Howie, Alice Vernon, Barbara Johnston, Bea Bound, Caoimhe Hunter Blair, Joanna Clapton, Katherine Self, Lorna Laidlaw, Lucy Johnston, Mark Johnston, Rhona Quarm, Vanessa Lawrence and Whirly Marshall.

The team would like to thank their coach Chris Sifleet and her team from Swim4Miles and Ayrdynamics Triathlon Club in Troon for the training sessions. They would also like to thank the RNLI and HM Coastguard for their valuable advice as well as Ian Jones from Clyde and West Coast Cruising who will support the team on the day with their two yachts and support boats. A big thank you also to everyone who has donated to the fundraising campaign so generously.

For press enquiries, please contact Tracey O’Sullivan on 07970 395 924 or email

For further information on the Jo Walters Trust visit:

For further information on the RNLI contact Richard Smith, RNLI PR Manager for Scotland on 07786 668 903 or email or visit: