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Wednesday 18 August 2021

Open Water Swimming & Freaking Out About Pike

Have you ever freaked yourself out for no reason? Just me then?

I planned a last swim ahead of Breca Loch Lomond swimrun. I was quite pleased with my organisation too. Didn’t forget any kit … goggles, hat, towfloat all present and I even managed to grab an early morning swim slot before we left for Scotland. Everything was falling into place like a damp version of Tetris.

Look at me being all organised! Like some kind of amazing swimrun pro. 

Rocked up to the lake to an almost empty car park and couldn’t see a single swimmer in the water. There are no safety boats or lifeguards at Stoney Cove. It’s beautiful but at over a kilometre around the edge and over 35 metres deep it can feel quite eerie. The cliffs around it are high and the water is dark and ominous when the sun isn’t shining.

I got myself sorted and climbed down the ladder from the side into the water. I bobbed for a couple of minutes, getting used to the temperature and the feeling of swimming with trainers on (swimrunners swim with trainers on) and I set off towards the far edge of the lake.

I was certainly entirely on my own in the lake – there were no other swimmers and it was quite a lonely feeling. As I swam I kept seeing something blurry out of the corner of my eye keeping pace with me, but when I turned my head it disappeared.

There are pike in the waters of Stoney Cove, reportedly up to 5 feet long. I have to admit I have never seen one here but have heard plenty of stories of swimmers being bitten when rinsing shiny goggles in the water. Was it a pike keeping pace with me? Something more sinister?

My brain then decided to freak me out by reminding me of all of the people who have died in Stoney Cove. LOTS.

Yeah. No.

I decided to swim back to the ladder but as I was already a third of the way around I realised I was swimming back across the deepest and eeriest part of the lake. My brain then did me the massive favour of visualising a hand grabbing my ankle and pulling me under the water. 

I had a WIBBLE. Went proper Blackadder.

Sometimes I despair of myself. I should start writing horror stories or something. Luckily another swimmer came along – appeared as though out of nowhere - and stopped for a chat so I followed him around the lake. And I was fine.

And the weird blurry thing following me? Turns out it was a scratch on my goggles.