Facing the Lough Ness Monster

Dubliners out on the loch with Nessie
Jennifer Hough, Sunday Tribune, May 12, 2008

EIGHTEEN Dun Laoghaire dare-devils are preparing to swim the cold and murky waters of Loch Ness this summer – and even tales of old Nessie cannot put them off.
Organisers Alan Coleman and Simon Torpay, both 28, have heard stories of sonar sightings of the legendary beast, and have even had warnings from renowned stunt swimmer “Alcatraz Joe” – but they will not be deterred from the 12 July event looking to raise more than ?10,000 for charity.
“Last year Simon and myself did an 11km swim from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, ” Coleman told the Sunday Tribune.
“It was the first time this had been done, and was quite tough. This time we wanted something that was a bit more inclusive, something more people would be interested in doing, ” he said.
Calling themselves the 40 Foot Walruses Sea Swimming Club, they are the first group from Ireland – including three mums – to attempt the swim.
The 18 brave souls will be swimming in water of 100C for around an hour.
“It has been done before but it’s not something that’s done regularly, ” said Coleman.
Initially, there was a group of 30 swimmers, but after speaking to Joe Oakes who swam Loch Ness three years ago – and who was the first man to swim the supposedly impossible Alcatraz to San Francisco stretch – they decided to impose a minimum standard.
“I got in touch with Joe after I bought his book which gave advice and tips on swims like this, ” said Coleman.
“When I told him our level, and that we had some beginners, he bascially said that the middle of Loch Ness is no place for beginners.
“It’s very choppy, ” explained Coleman. “And because it’s fresh water there is no buoyancy.”
A high peat content means visibility in the 800ft deep lake is very bad too.
“Joe said you can’t see your hand in front of you, and he also said it was the coldest water he had ever swam in.”
Currently, the 18-strong swimming club can be spotted on Sunday mornings, in their speedos, at the 40 Foot swimming spot in Dun Laoghaire.
“We are training together once a week at the 40 Foot, but we are all doing extra training – about 2km a week, in our spare time as well. It’s a big commitment, it does interfere with your social life, ” laughed Coleman, who says he is looking forward to a hot drink afterwards.
“We will have hot scotch, haggis and a bagpipe player playing ‘Scotland The Brave’ waiting for us at the far side.”
And the big question – is he afraid that Nessie will make an appearance on the day?
“The more I read about it the more I believe there could be something to it.
“But there are 18 of us, so I will surround myself with other swimmers who are covered in goose fat -Nessie likes to eat geese apparently, ” he laughed.


One thought on “Facing the Lough Ness Monster

  1. Hi
    I’m a journalist looking to make contact.
    I emailled last week and someone left a message on my phone on Friday – apologies, I had a problem with my phone and couldn’t pick up the message. It has since been deleted from my messages.
    If possible could you provide (again!) the contact for someone who can talk about the swim? I’m on 087 3099246 or foleywriter@gmail.com
    Thanks again
    Niall Foley

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