Swimming Loch Ness with BLDSA

HelbeHelbe Senior Member
edited August 2016 in Locations & Networking

There seems to be an increased interest in Loch Ness swims this year. While there is no specific swim certification body for Loch Ness, the BLDSA (British Long Distance Swimming Association) was founded in 1956 and keeps records of all swims submitted for recognition and ratified as conducted in accordance with their rules. Their rules are basically the recognised channel swimmer rules and require an observer (or two if the swim will potentially set a new record) to be witness.

If you are planning to swim Loch Ness to MSF rules I urge you to register your swim with the BLDSA and have an observer on the boat (cost is £50) so that the UK body can continue with the records database. You will receive a formal certificate for your achievement and would be welcome to attend the annual presentations dinner. bldsa.org.uk/swim/swim-recognition/

A professional boat organisation has recently set up a Loch Ness swim website and offers piloting of the swim. Their website lists swim results for their customers. This is misleading as they have a random and incomplete selection of historical swims, not all or which have been ratified by the BLDSA, and have themselves only piloted one relay swim to date - a mixed wetsuit/non-wetsuit relay in 2014.

There are a number of boat options for undertaking the swim. If anyone is serious about an attempt on Loch Ness then I am happy to answer any questions. I live locally and swim in Loch Ness all year round.



  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member

    Current ratified record times are: fastest lady 9.25.37 and fastest man 9.57.00 (part one of a 2way).

  • ZoeSadlerZoeSadler Charter Member

    Agree with @helbe's comments above. As Loch Ness an established swim which already has records and a long established body I believe it falls under the BLDSA's banner.

    Similarly with Loch Lomond, and other big swims in the UK. I have a Loch Lomond solo swim booked for 8/9 August and the BLDSA currently have 49 Loch Lomond solo swims on record. I have pre-registered my swim with the BLDSA as it's being done as a solo swim rather than as part of the Loch Lomond race.

    For the avoidance of doubt I will be swimming under BLDSA rules (but also under Channel Swimming and MSF Rules!), but assuming I am successful the documentation will be submitted to the BLDSA for ratification.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    Our group (me, Elaine, and Craig) are heading over in 3 weeks. We're working to have our swim recognized by the BLDSA. Their process is a little cumbersome for foreigners- there's a 35 pound fee to join the BLDSA (which you can pay online via credit card) and then another 50 pounds to be paid by check only. They aren't providing observers, but are allowing us to have 2 of our own observers (which have to be pre-approved) that will be able to document and then submit our swims for ratification. I don't think any of us are out for a record attempt- just hoping to survive the cold. Though, my strategy is to sprint as fast as possible for the entire length to stay warm. ;-)

    @helbe was very helpful when we were first planning this trip and I would encourage anyone who is interested in swimming to reach out to her for some local information. The group she mentions above charges quite a bit to pilot you, so if you're on a budget, I'm sure she can direct you to more affordable options.

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber

    One interesting thing about the BLDSA rules is that they do allow a swimmer to stand during feeds or to rest, as long as you aren't receiving support from your crew or using it to move forward. Hadn't heard that one before- and can assure everyone that we won't be standing during our swim. :-)

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member

    No - you will have nowhere to stand!! I challenge you to find somewhere to stand during a Loch Ness swim. The bottom drops off steeply very close to the north and south shores so you will only find shallow sections at the start and finish locations of the swim.

    That BLDSA rule is for places like Windermere which has a very shallow section around the islands. It would be very hard to avoid standing if you stopped for a feed there. The rule does state that you are not allowed to take any steps.

    You can ask the BLDSA observer to record that you did not stand at any point during the swim.

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member
    edited July 2015

    I'm observing a swim this weekend (as an unpaid volunteer as are all the BLDSA representatives) and I paid the £50 registration fee on behalf of the overseas swimmer. I do expect that to be paid back!
    I am hoping the BLDSA will make the swim registration form and fee available online as per the membership.

  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member

    @ssthomas Unless you are standing on Nessie. Standing on Nessie isn't considered assistance since there is a 50/50 chance Nessie is swimming in a direction you don't want to go, along with a 9 in 10 chance you get bitten for standing on a sea monster.


    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Explaining how you got that amazing scar:

    "Yeah, so...I got bitten by the Loch Ness Monster..."


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member
    edited July 2015

    malinaka said:
    along with a 9 in 10 chance you get bitten for standing on a sea monster.

    Putting a sea monster in freshwater would surely have some horrible effect on its biology? :(

  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member

    It's my understand that if a swimmer is able to harness Nessie and ride her to the finish, it still counts as an official swim (assisted, of course, but a finish nonetheless).


    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member

    If you manage to harness and ride Nessie you have found a pot of gold! Who cares if the swim is deemed assisted :D

  • Hi All!

    Paul and I descended on Loch ness a couple of days ago. Completed 3hr swim yesterday and 5hr swim today. Lots of fun!! Getting back into cold water (for my upcoming English Channel swim - next tide) after helping Grant in the warmer waters of Nantucket. Met up with Marcie this afternoon - which was lovely!! We are very excited for her upcoming Loch ness swim and hope to meet up with Helbe over the next few days....

    After 8 hours of swimming at this end of the Loch I have failed to find Nessie... I believe all the tourist boats around the place have scared her off... but maybe Marcie will find her! ;)

    Chloe :)

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin

    Marcy MacDonald reportedly became the first American to swim the length of Loch Ness today.

    22.5 miles (36 km) in 50F/10C water in just over 12 hours (average ~3 km per hour).

    Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.01.50 AM
    Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 11.02.07 AM

  • HelbeHelbe Senior Member
    edited August 2015

    evmo said:
    Marcy MacDonald reportedly became the first American to swim the length of Loch Ness today.

    22.5 miles (36 km) in 50F/10C water in just over 12 hours (average ~3 km per hour).

    Actually it was just under 12 hours - 11:59:08 (to be ratified). Incredible gutsy swim and a privilege to observe.

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