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AT THE SURFACE OF A DARK SCOTTISH LOCH

Loch Ness has long held mystery and intrigue for those willing to stare into its depths. By Elaine K Howley

LOCH NESS

After the Roman Empire crumbled in 476 AD, western society forgot how to swim. Swimming suffered an unfortunate and unholy association with sex, the body and the Roman baths that facilitated sinful activities in the newly and starkly Christian world.

Nevertheless, a surprising reference to both the first sighting of the Loch Ness monster and perhaps the first recorded swimmer in Loch Ness occurs in the “Life of St Columba,” a work the 7th century Irish abbot and scholar Adaman wrote about his cousin St Columba’s travels across Britain to bring Christianity to the Picts a century before.

The Picts were an enigmatic, assorted collection of Celtic people who lived in eastern and northern Scotland and apparently hadn’t gotten the memo about avoiding the water. Branded as fierce “painted” people with a sophisticated culture, the Picts disappeared from historic texts around 900 AD. But it was on 22 August 565 when Columba encountered the swimmers and the lake monster as described in Book II, Chapter 28: How an Aquatic Monster was Driven Off by Virtue of the Blessed Man’s Prayer:

SWIMMING WITH NESSY A TIMELINE

Current BLDSA List of Recognised Loch Ness Solo Swims

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About Outdoor Swimmer

In this issue we are celebrating the joy of wild swimming. There is more to swimming outdoors than organised events and races; wild swimming gives you space to experience nature, adventure, freedom and creativity. Seas, rivers, lakes, ponds, streams and lochs... look at a map and any blue space is a possibility to swim. As contributor Sam Mould writes in ‘Wayfarer in the Wilderness’, her exploration of wild swimming and landscape: “I feel that I have become dislocated from the natural world, from the wild environment and the inexorable rawness of nature.” Wild swimming goes some way to redress that balance. We hope you enjoy the stories within these pages, whether you like dipping in tarns in the Lake District or swimming across lakes in Switzerland, and get some new ideas for your own wild swimming adventures around the country and the world. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor
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