The Three Lakes Challenge: Loch, Lake, Llyn by Helen Liddle

A great guest blog from Helen Liddle about being part of the first team to attempt and complete the “3 Peaks of British Swimming.”

On 3rd and 4th July a team of 5 took on the ‘3 Peaks of British Swimming’. The aim was to swim the 3 longest lakes in Scotland, England and Wales in a continuous relay format in under 48 hours including travel times, wearing standard swim suit, hat and goggles. Jason Betley came up with the idea as he wanted to do something that had not been done before. The rest of us all keen for a challenge thought it would be a great thing to do.

The initial seed was sewn nearly two years ago but we only started planning at the beginning of this year. The challenge was kept a secret until a week before. The swimmers, in swim order, Helen Gibbs, Jason Betley, Debbi Taylor, Helen Liddle and Sam Plum. We were supported by Sam’s husband, Roger and Levi the dog. Tanja Slater was our Observer who kept a watchful eye over us. Tanja will submit a report to WOWSA to have the swim recognised.


Lakes in swim order.

Loch Awe: The longest freshwater loch in Scotland, measuring 41 kilometres (25 mi) from end to end with an average width of 1-kilometre (0.62 mi). We started the challenge at 5.43am in thick fog but the water was silky smooth and like a mirror. As the fog slowly lifted and the sun came out, the loch, in all its glory appeared before us for the first time. It was breathtakingly beautiful, a truly surreal experience which exceeded all expectations. Later the wind got up and it became a little choppy. Loch Awe is a hidden gem with no boat traffic and so completely idyllic. A very special place indeed and we all enjoyed our swims immensely. We finished at 18.07pm total time 11 hours 47 mins. Water temps from 14.1c – 19.4c, Air temps from 14.8c – 26c.



Debbie motoring along windy

We then jumped back on the bus and headed to Wales. An opportunity to try, to catch some sleep. When we arrived the sun had come out and it had turned into a lovely day albeit a bit windy!

Llyn Tegid or Lake Bala as its better known: It is 4 miles (6.4 km) long by 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. Although the shortest lake by far it was the hardest swim as the wind had got up making it really choppy and by this time we were all very tired. Total swim time 1 hour 43 mins. Water temp 15.8-19.98c Air temp 18.8-22.0c.


Loch Awe in all its glory


Jason finishing the first leg

After grabbing a bite to eat we headed, overnight, to Cumbria. We drove through a storm and arrived at Fell Foot in the early hours of the morning. Sharing a mini-bus with no air-con, and with 7 people, 1 dog and wet damp kit does not make for a happy sleeping!!. So at 5am, after a sleepless night we emerged from the bus to head down to the shore to meet our boat.

Lake Windermere: 16.9 kilometres (10.5 mi) The lake varies in width up to a maximum of 1.49 kilometres (0.93 mi), and covers an area of 14.73 square kilometres. It was raining when we started but the lake was, as Loch Awe, like a mirror. After the first swim the rain stopped and although warm, it was overcast, the sun never made an appearance. Windermere, although more commercialised, holds memories for all of us, so again will always be a special place. Total Swim time 5 hours 53mins water temp 17.6-20.3c Air temp 16.1-21.5c.


Job done! Happy Team!

Total swim miles: 39.5 miles

Total driving miles: 396 miles

Total Swim time: 18 hours and 43 mins

Total challenge time: 36 hours 23 Mins

This is just a short summary of what was, a truly amazing weekend and we are all very pleased and proud to be the first team ever to complete this challenge.

We really hope that other swimmers will take on the challenge and enjoy it as much as we did. If anybody wants any more information please feel free to contact me I’m hoping to set up a web page shortly.

Helen Liddle

芙蓉出水 (fúróng chūshuǐ) Out of the Water a Lotus Rises.

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