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Around 2700 participants, along with Scottish Olympians and international elite swimmers, took on the challenge of the Great Scottish Swim today at one of the country’s most iconic locations, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
They were joined by TV star Ferne McCann; the former TOWIE and I’m A Celeb… favourite, who is currently a presenter on This Morning and swam at 10AM in the one mile wave.
“I’ve had an incredible day here in Loch Lomond at the Great Scottish Swim. The atmosphere is amazing and I had great support from the other swimmers and spectators.
“The location is breath-taking - I stopped at the half way point to appreciate where I was and enjoy the view, so I was really pleased to have still made it round in about 40 minutes.
“Open water swimming is such a fun activity, I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to give it a go.”
The elite race in the afternoon saw some of Scotland’s best swimmers - including a number who had just returned from the Olympics Games in Rio - take on tough international competition. It also incorporated the Scottish Swimming National One Mile Open Water Championship race.
2008 Olympic silver medallist and Great Swim ambassador Keri-anne Payne - who took 7th place at the Olympic 10k marathon swim final on Copacabana beach this year - won the women’s event, she was followed by World Cup winner Jana Pechanova from the Czech Republic in second place, and ten time, national USA open water 10K champion Christine Jennings, in third.
Open water specialist, Rio 2016 finalist and and two-time World Cup winner, Englishman Jack Burnell took first place. He was followed by Nathan Hughes from Hatfield Swim Club in Hertfordshire in second and 2015 25k Champion Germany’s Christian Reichert in third.
Now in it’s fourth year at Loch Lomond shores, the event saw swimmers of all ages and abilities taking on a range of distances. Alongside the existing ½ mile, 1 mile, 2 mile and 5k courses, two new events were added to the programme for 2016.
150 hardy swimmers took on the ultimate open water challenge - the 10k ‘marathon swim’ on Friday afternoon, followed by an exciting SwimRun event which saw competitors enjoy the best of both worlds; an 800m swim followed by a 5k run around Balloch Castle Country Park.
Alex Jackson, Great Swim Series event director said, “It’s been another incredible weekend here in Loch Lomond. Swimming in one of Scotland’s most iconic locations, against such a memorable backdrop is an amazing experience for our swimmers.
“We’d like to say a big well done to everyone who took part today and a big thanks to our fantastic safety team, lifeguards and local volunteers."
Gordon Watson, chief executive officer at Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “We were delighted to see returning swimmers, but also so many first timers at the Great Scottish Swim this year.
“With many friends and family supporting and spectating too, it’s a welcome economic boost and a great opportunity to showcase Loch Lomond; not just a stunning backdrop but also a world class-sporting venue.
This weekend has demonstrated how spectacular the inaugural European Championships in 2018 will be with the National Park as a setting.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park is one of Scotland’s most scenic sporting settings and it has provided a stunning backdrop for the thousands of participants who conquered the Great Scottish Swim this weekend.
“Supported through EventScotland’s International Funding Programme, this event continues to attract a growing number of returning visitors to the area, which can only enhance Scotland’s reputation as the perfect stage for events ahead of the open water swimming contest at Loch Lomond during the 2018 European Championships.”
The event is the finale of this year’s Great Swim series, which gives over 20,000 participants the opportunity to swim in lakes, lochs and urban docks across the UK including; the Great North Swim at Windermere, Cumbria, the Great East Swim at Alton Water, near Ipswich, the Great Manchester Swim at Salford Quays and the Great London Swim at the Royal Victoria Dock.