This list is being updated all the time, please do keep checking back.
Can I use flippers, fins or paddles?
Yes. Many swimmers feel more confident using these, or use them to aid recovery from injuries.
Can I fundraise for other charities?
Unfortunately not. Staging the swim is a massive undertaking for us. We're a very small independent charity and the proceeds raised from the swim are vital for our long-term future. However we also want to share the success of the swim with other charities, particularly those local to Merkinch. That's why we pass on 25% of all sponsorship funds raised to our Community Partner. The Community Partner is also asked to contribute volunteer time to the staging of the event, so it would be unfair to divert funds to other charities.
If there is a particular local charity you are passionate about, please tell us about it and it can be considered as a future Official Charity Partner.
How fast do I need to swim?
The swim distance is approximately 1200m. This may vary on the day as precise tidal effects on a swimmer are inherently unpredictable. You should be confident that you can complete this distance in no more than 60 minutes. After that time the tide starts to run faster and all swimmers will have to be out of the water.
Why can't I just drive to the event?
Merkinch & South Kessock are residential areas. There simply isn't any suitable parking for hundreds of cars. If there was, we'd be using it! If hundreds of cars end up choking the quiet streets near the event centre it will really upset local residents, and rightly so. We've weighed up the options very carefully and come up with the best solution. Now we're relying on all our swimmers to help us out by following our parking instructions. If you're travelling from further afield, why not try to book accommodation within walking distance of the event centre?
What's the risk from jellyfish stings?
It's impossible to quantify the risk accurately. Harmless moon jellyfish are common. Lion's Mane jellyfish have been encountered in the Beauly Firth, but not often. You can read more about them on the Wildlife Trust website at this link. We have professional event medical cover in place, who will treat you for stings if you're unlucky enough to swim through any tentacles. This might be one factor when you're deciding what to wear for the swim: wetsuits undoubtedly offer greater protection from the stinging tentacles.
I've booked but can no longer make it to the event. Can I get a refund or give my place to someone else?
Please read the full terms and conditions before you pay. There is an initial 14 day cooling off period when you can get a refund minus a £10 admin charge. After that it is no longer possible to get a refund.
Up until 8 weeks before the event, you can exchange your place with someone else under certain strict criteria (please read full T&C's). After that time it will no longer be possible to exchange.
We acknowledge that this is a strict policy. In common with many similar charitable events, we have to protect our finances once we have paid out large sums for the deposits on e.g marquees and catering.
Can I just do the swim one-way?
After a lot of careful thought we have decided not to offer a one-way option in 2023. The logistics of a bus shuttle over to North Kessock are just too difficult for us. We may look at this again in future years.
If you find you are unable to continue when you get to the turnaround at North Kessock, remember that there will be a first aid station at North Kessock, and a minibus to take retired swimmers back to the event centre. That said, please remember that you should only enter this event if you are confident that you can complete the full approx. 1200m distance unaided. But we know even the fittest swimmers have off days, hence the 'get out clause' at North Kessock.
What's the water quality like?
There is a long history of swimming in the Beauly Firth, though it is not listed by Scottish Environment Protection Agency as a Bathing Water location. There are Bathing Water locations further out in the Moray Firth at Rosemarkie & Nairn. Every year since 2014, SEPA have classified the surface water in the Beauly Firth as "High Quality", the highest classification. Ultimately though, as with many outdoor swimming locations, we have no way of guaranteeing the water quality for swimming.
Do I have to use the 'Give As You Live' fundraising platform?
If you're fundraising online please only use the Give As You Live platform. Other platforms create serious bookkeeping headaches! If you'd like to use a good old-fashioned sponsorship form, we've provided one for you to download by clicking here: Sponsorship Form Once you've gathered in all the money from your sponsors, we can accept it in cash, or you can make a bank transfer / cheque payment to us.
What happens if the event is cancelled?
The event could be cancelled at the very last moment due to e.g high winds. It is very difficult to reschedule the event due to the tide timings. We operate a very strict cancellation & refund policy in order to safeguard the finances of our small charity. Please ensure you read Section 5 of the T&C's in full (NB the full T&C's are available to read when booking):
5 WITHDRAWAL, CANCELLATIONS OR ALTERATIONS
5.1 The Event Organiser operates a fourteen (14) day cooling off period. Accordingly, the Participant is entitled to withdraw his/her application to participate provided the Event Organiser receives written notice of cancellation within fourteen (14) days of payment of Entry Fee (payment being deemed made for the purpose of this clause 5.1 by clicking on the make payment link on the secure payment webpage). During this fourteen (14) day period the Participant is able to withdraw his/her entry and receive a full refund of the Entry Fee by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or writing to the Event Organiser at Àban Outdoor Ltd (Scotland) Ltd, 67a Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU. The notice must be received before the end of the 14 day cooling off period.
5.2 We reserve the right to retain £10.00 from any refund given in accordance with condition 5.1 as a contribution to administrative costs.
5.3 The Participant acknowledges that places for the Event are limited and payment of the Entry Fee and reservation of the place has an effect on logistics and the subscription for the Event. Accordingly, the Participant agrees to notify the Event Organiser in writing (or by email) as soon as possible of his / her intention to withdraw and that :
5.3.1 if the Participant withdraws from the Event 8 weeks (56 days) or less before the commencement of the Event weekend he/she will receive no refund and he/she shall not be entitled to transfer his/her place to another person; and
5.3.2 if the Participant withdraws from the Event more than 8 weeks (56 days) before the commencement of the Event, he/she can transfer his/her place to another swimmer. He/she will need to find the swimmer to transfer the place to, as the Event Organiser does not manage a list of transfers. The Participant (and original swimmer) shall be solely responsible for recovery of the Event Fee from any transferee. The original place will be automatically withdrawn once the new swimmer has completed their booking and the transfer is complete.
5.3.3 Transfer of places will require payment of a £10 admin fee, payable by the original swimmer.
5.4 The Event Organiser reserves the right to alter the start time of the Event. In the event of a change of start time the Participant will be notified of the revised start time with as much notice as reasonably practicable. No refund in full or in part shall be made for any change in start time for an Event provided the Event takes place on the specified date of the Event.
5.5 The Event Organiser reserves the right to change the date of the Event. In the event of such change of date of the Event, the Participant is permitted to take part in any re-scheduled Event, but will otherwise not be entitled to any refund in whole or in part of the Entry Fee. If the date of the Event is changed, there shall be no further liability (including any travel or accommodation costs) whatsoever arising from such change of format.
5.6 The Event Organiser reserves the right to amend the Event format, route or distance in their sole discretion or cancel the Event due to circumstances beyond its reasonable control or for any safety related reason.
5.6.1 If the Event is changed to another reasonably similar format, route or distance the Participant will not be entitled to any refund and there shall be no further liability whatsoever arising from such change of format.
5.6.2 Any cancellation of the Event will be communicated to the Applicant as soon as reasonably practicable in the circumstances, including written notice, by email, text message, TV and / or radio broadcast. If the Event is cancelled, the Event Organiser may (at its sole discretion) reschedule the Event at a later date either at the same venue or at an alternative venue. Participants will have the right to take part in the re-staged Event, but will otherwise not receive any refund of the Entry Fee. If Participants are unable to take part in the re-staged Event, there will be no entitlement to any refund, in whole or in part, of the Entry Fee, with no further liability of the Event Organiser whatsoever arising from such cancellation.