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Around 2700 participants, alongside Scottish Olympians and international elite swimmers, will take on the challenge of the Great Scottish Swim at one of the country’s most iconic locations this weekend.
Scotland’s biggest open water swimming event will take place at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park from Friday 26 - Saturday 27 August.
Amateur swimmers will be joined by TV Star Ferne McCann; the Former TOWIE and I’m a celeb… favourite, who is currently a presenter on This Morning, will be taking on her second open water 1 mile swim.
“I was really apprehensive about my first open water swim but I absolutely loved it! It’s an amazing experience; everyone should give it a go.
“The Great Swim events have a brilliant atmosphere and really are for everyone, no matter what your level of fitness. I can’t wait to get up to Scotland and experience open water swimming against the incredible back drop of Loch Lomond.”
Now in it’s fourth year at Loch Lomond shores, the event will see 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 have been added to the programme for 2016.
The Great Scottish Swim will open on Friday afternoon when around 150 hardy swimmers will take on the ultimate open water challenge - the 10k ‘marathon swim’ - followed by an exciting SwimRun event which will see 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 great to have the opportunity to offer new distances and events for our swimmers in this fantastic location. The appetite for longer distances is definitely growing.”
Scottish swimming stars Robbie Renwick and Craig Benson, usually more at home in the University of Stirling pool, will also be diving into the open waters of Loch Lomond. Fresh off the plane from Rio, they will be competing in a challenging race against some of the world's best open water swimmers at the event, which will incorporate the Scottish Swimming National One Mile Open Water Championship race.
Olympic Silver medallist, 2015 World Champion and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Renwick and European Champion Benson, who made the men’s 200m breaststroke semi final in Brazil, will be taking on the 2015 open water World Champion, Christian Reichert of Germany as well as Loughborough based open water specialist, two-time World Cup winner, Englishman Jack Burnell.
The women's race will feature Edinburgh resident and two-time world champion Keri-anne Payne, who took 7th place at the Olympic 10k marathon swim final on Copacabana beach, she will be competing against World Cup winner Jana Pechanova from the Czech Republic, as well as 10 time, national USA open water 10K champion, Christine Jennings.
Gordon Watson, chief executive officer at Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Great Scottish Swim, and open water swimming generally, continuing to increase in popularity. The growth of the sport has brought more visitors to the National Park, and with them clear economic benefits for the region.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the Great Scottish Swim back to the shores of Loch Lomond for the fourth time. Being selected to host the open water swimming event at the inaugural European Championships in 2018 is also very exciting. Both events will help secure the National Park’s reputation as a top quality sporting venue.
“There are many different ways people can make the most of the great outdoors and get active in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs including open water swimming. There are a number of clubs running within the National Park who work with us to encourage responsible swimming in these shared waters. We will continue to invest in improving accessibility to the Park and in the facilities we offer our visitors to help make the Park a great experience for everyone.”
Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “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 will provide a stunning backdrop for thousands of participants who are set to enjoy 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.”