Edinburgh woman swims length of Loch Lomond in aid of local rescue boat after fatalities in Scottish waters
Nicky Mather completed the 21.6 mile challenge in 16 hours and 27 minutes earlier this month and pictures from the day show her crawling onto the shore at Ardlui following what she described as her “hardest swim yet.”
The 48-year-old, who lives in Colinton, has been swimming outdoors in Scotland for the past 12 years and regularly swims with friends early morning in the sea at Portobello or in Threipmuir reservoir in the Pentlands.
In July a man, woman and boy died in Loch lomond near Ardlui just one day after a 16-year-old died in the loch near the pier at Balloch Country Park. A man also died in Threipmuir Reservoir earlier that month.
Mrs Mather says she was left “deeply upset” by these fatalities and wanted to show her appreciation for the Loch Lomond Rescue Boat volunteer crew because of the selfless work they do for those in need, from helping stricken boats to swimmers and kayakers in difficulty.
She said: “I really wanted to do something for the rescue boat. I had Loch Lomond in my mind, as four people drowned there, and I have been training at Threipmuir where one person drowned.”
Previously, Mrs Mather has completed training swims in Loch Lomond and relay events in Loch Ness and other swims across the UK, and she even sits in her own paddling pool filled with ice in winter to help her body get used to the cold temperatures.
Speaking about her latest gruelling challenge, she said: “It was the longest time I had ever been in the water and at the 12 hour mark it started to feel really hard physically and mentally, and it was getting colder and a bit more choppy and the wind was coming sideways. That was tough.
“I did not realise how many ‘false endings’ there were in Loch Lomond and I kept thinking I had finished when I had not. In terms of distance and the physical and mental requirement it is probably the hardest swim I have done.”
Mrs Mather had a kayaker and safety boat with her provided by a company called Inchbaggers and, as she was not allowed to touch the boat, her husband used a string to lower a milk carton containing hot carbohydrate drinks and flapjacks in tupperware which she ate and drank as she treaded water.
She completed her swim on August 10, setting off from the Duncan Mills slipway in Balloch at 5.10am and finishing at Ardlui at 9.37pm.
The challenge equated to swimming 700 lengths of an Olympic sized pool - but in much colder water.
At the time of writing, Mrs Mather has raised more than £1,800 for the rescue boat and she hopes to exceed the £2,000 mark.
Anyone who would like to donate can do so HERE.
Mrs Mather said that, over the years, she has raised more than £10,000 for various charities through her swims.