Tri-athletes complete Great Glen Challenge swim to mark special charity anniversary

The swimmers make ready to set off from their Corpach base. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO F36 Corpach swim 01

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A team of 24 tri-athletes swam 46 miles along the waterways of the Great Glen over the weekend in a special charity challenge celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Tri-4-Life organisation.

On Friday, the group, swimming in pods of four or five swimmers of mixed ages and abilities, set off into Loch Linnhe from Caol beach, to swim the 10 miles across to Camus  na Gaul, then south west down the west side of Loch Linnhe.

On Saturday it was the turn of Loch Lochy and a 10-miles swim, followed by another five miles in Loch Oich, from gairlochy heading northwards.

Sunday saw the longest section with 21 miles of Loch Ness being covered from Cherry Island until abeam with Foyers, before the swimmers headed across the loch, then north east along the east shore to Dores.

The stronger more experienced swimmers swam the full length of Loch Linnhe, with other team members swimming different distances but all part of a great team event.

The age range of the team was from Aaron Davies, aged 20, to Ray Hanlon. the oldest at 75.

The swimmers take to the water from Caol foreshore on Friday. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO F36 Corpach swim 03
The swimmers take to the water from Caol foreshore on Friday. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

Safety support on the water was provided by Jim Tinsley and Brian McBaine, who operated two inflatable RIBS, with VHF radio communications

Liam Hanlon is the event director of Tri-4-life and told us: ‘It is a charitable fund, with its roots in my parents Diane and Ray starting a family quest to raise money for charities dear to their heart, by sporting activities, particularly triathlon and other elite endurance events.

‘From that, Tri4Life started as the realisation of a simple dream to make a 2,800-mile non-stop journey from the White House to LA, whilst spreading a message and reaching out a hand of friendship from Merseyside to all the cities, communities and individuals that we share this journey with.

‘A group of average everyday friends were brought together by a vision, passion and enthusiasm through a common interest in the sport of triathlon’.

Liam has further similar events planned, including a Scotland to Ireland swim.

Scottish West Coast Cruises provided local logistics/conditions support and equipment provision, with some of the team being accommodated on board the vessel, Lady Sofrida, as guests for the event.

Donald McPhater has converted this 16m ring net herring fishing boat, as an adventure cruiser, where it is run as a charitable and social enterprise, to promote mental well-being, including addictive behaviour recovery, in the Highlands and Islands.

Mr McPhater commented: ‘This is all the more needed in the present Covid crisis and its aftermath. It takes on similar charity and fund raising events like the Great Glen Swim challenge, as well as acting as support, accommodation and mother boat for kayakers, St Ayles skiffs, etc.

‘The team adopted a ‘bubble’ approach, due to coronavirus precautions and anti-virus procedures were adopted aboard, with ensuing post-departure isolation and cleaning.’

The event could not have been held without the support of the local community, and Tri4Life wishes to thank all those who provided assistance.


The swimmers make ready to set off from their floating Corpach base. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO F36 Corpach swim 01


EXTRA pic:

The swimmers take to the water from Caol foreshore on Friday. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

NO F36 Corpach swim 03