The most important safety measure is your competence to undertake the swim. Please be honest with yourself about your fitness and experience. You must be confident that you can manage the distance and the water temperature, which is expected to be around 11 degrees celsius.
Our safety team is managed by Jeff Forester (formerly Highland Open Water Swim). Safety assets include:
- Sea kayak fleet
- Powerboat fleet
- Shore-based spotters
- Rescue Medics event first aid
- Aid point & minibus pickup from North Kessock
If you find yourself struggling, or in need of a little breather, just lay on your back or tread water and pop your hand up. One of our safety team will make their way to you. We have plenty of safety craft on the water and someone will reach you as quickly as possible. Professional first aid cover is provided by Rescue Medics. At the North Kessock Old Ticket Office, there will be a first aid post and a minibus shuttle based for any swimmers unable to complete the return leg.
Your side of the bargain is that you must follow any instructions given to you by the safety team. We’ll be managing a complex tide and weather situation, and we need your full cooperation to keep everyone safe.
Wetsuits and Tow Floats
Wetsuit use is optional for swimmers aged 18 and over, but please note the expected water temperature of 11 degrees celsius. Swimmers aged under 18 will be required to wear a wetsuit. All swimmers must use a high visibility tow float. You’re welcome to use your own, or alternatively these are available to hire for an additional fee of £5.
Under 12? Sorry, you'll have to wait until you're a bit older to take part!
Aged 12 - 14? You need parental consent on your booking form. You must swim together with an adult, and you must wear a wetsuit as well as a tow float.
Aged 14 - 18? You need parental consent on your booking form. You can swim independently, and you must wear a wetsuit as well as a tow float.
How can I Prepare for the Swim?
Preparation is everything. Our partners at Seashell have put together the following advice to help you train safely:
Top Tips for Cold Water Swimming
Planning a Sea Swim
Safety Brief Video
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.
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.
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.
Can I use Flippers, Fins, or Paddles?
Yes. Many swimmers feel more confident using these, or use them to aid recovery from injuries.