I seem to have spent most of my life in or around water. I learnt to swim when I was three, or so I’m told. I can’t say I remember it too well. As kids, we seemed to spend all our spare time in swimming pools or on the beach in Malaya, in Jamaica, in Brighton – well, Hove actually. I learnt to dive when I was 18, on the Jamaican coral reefs, and was instantly hooked. That was it – I had to become a marine biologist.
So the next umpteen years I spent diving for fun and diving for work, all around the British Isles and in as many far flung spots as I could manage. I surveyed the Northern Irish coast and the Scottish sealochs. I dived the Scilly Isles, St Kilda, Norway, the Philippines, and many spots between. Inevitably I married a fellow diver and marine biologist – love blossomed under the fish farm cages of Shetland. Swimming popped up again when babies came along and I found I didn’t want to spend all my weekends away from home and they wanted us to drive them to football training. The babies are now grown and are, of course both swimmers and divers.
And so I’ve been swimming regularly for the past I don’t know how many years in pools in and around East Lothian. Then several years ago, while driving across Scotland one wet and midgy morning, I began to think about all the water that Scotland holds, from the west coast sealochs where I had spent so much time to all the freshwater lochs that were scattered over the mainland, and all the rivers that joined them. Would it be possible to join them all up? Could someone swim through them all, from one coast to the other?
This year my crazy friend Saartje and I are going to try. We’re swimming from Loch Laxford to Bonar Bridge through several little lochs, the rather bigger Loch Shin and then the rapids of the River Shin. I felt like a midget standing next to Loch Shin when we checked it out. But hey, break problems into small enough bits and they’re generally solvable. That mantra may not, of course, work in this case but we won’t know until we try.
And so the Shin Swim has been born.
That blog title – W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar.