It is great to hear about ordinary people doing extraordinary challenges in Scotland. Here is the story of Darrell Boult, who swam the length of Loch Lomond this month.
When Darrell, 51, of Perth, finished a swim of England’s largest lake, 10.5-mile long Windermere, feeling “fine”, his thoughts turned to swimming Scotland’s largest loch. Three years later, the forest manager has successfully swum the length of Loch Lomond. The 21.6-mile challenge on July 6 took 12 hours and 10 minutes.
Darrell, who wore a wetsuit for the swim, said: “There were many hours in the water when I felt very cold. The wind made the water choppy, too, but overall the swim went well. I was pleased to get to the end.”
Darrell was not aiming to break a record for the swim, but rather to achieve a personal challenge. He said: “To me, it is one of those challenges where finishing it is enough, regardless of the time.”
Build up to Loch Lomond swim
When Darrell swum Lake Windermere in 2014 he thought that would be the furthest he would ever be able to swim. He said: “When I swim the length of Windermere I was surprised to get out the water feeling fine and feeling like I had more in me.
“A friend of mine then swam Loch Lomond in 2015 so that got me thinking about it and I committed to doing it in September 2016. However, a shoulder injury prevented me swimming then so it was rearranged for this summer.”
Darrell used to swim when he was at school but did not get in the water again until his mid-40s. As well as Lake Windermere, he has sum a few 10k distances.
On July 6, he entered Loch Lomond at Ardlui at 5.39am with a support crew of Robert and Stuart from Vigour Events.
Darrell said: “The water temperature seemed fine at first but by the second hour I felt much colder than I wanted to be and the wind had picked up making it more challenging.
“I was very cold for the next four hours and I struggled to block it out my mind. Then there was a noticeable change in the weather, the wind dropped and water temperature was up at 15.8C, which I welcomed.
“I felt like I was swimming well at that point. As we got past Inchtavannach island the cold and the wind returned.
“But overall the swim went really well and the only problem was the cold and trying to stand up at the end of it.
“The choppy conditions did impact on my time but that didn’t matter.”
Food and nutrition
Twelve hours is a long time to be in the water swimming non-stop. Darrell took regular “quick stops” for food. He ate CNP ProFuel drink with a small piece of vegan flapjack every hour for the first six hours.
Then he moved to eating every 45 minutes. He said: “At that point I had to ditch the flapjack as it was taking too long to chew and I was getting very cold every time I stopped.
“I had one small piece of bread with marmite with about three hours still to go. It was hard to stop at the one piece as it tasted so good but I was worried about trying to digest it. So, mostly, I was fuelled with CNP.
The end of the swim
Darrell was very cold by the end of the Loch Lomond swim at Balloch and his arms were aching. He added: “I struggled to get my legs working and to stand up, which is normal after a long time in the water.
“I warmed up that evening with two quilts, a blanket, two jackets, two fleece tops, a t-shirt, a hat and some warm trousers.
“Days later, I still felt tired but I am delighted that I managed to complete my challenge. I also overwhelmed by the support and encouragement I got during and after the swim and I thank everyone for that.”
Loch Lomond record swims
The British Long Distance Swimming Association keeps a record of non wetsuit swims. Two records were set in 2012 for the fastest length of Loch Lomond swim from Ardlui to Baloch. James Leitch swam 9:16:32, while Rebecca Lewis set a time of 2012 9:23:34 for the ladies.
Does anyone else have any big challenges planned or any they have recently completed?