AFTER a third successful year playing host to Scotland’s largest open water swimming event, the Great Scottish Swim, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has revealed that participation in open water swimming in its 22 lochs is at an all-time high.
Over the last 10 years events have grown in size and number at Scotland’s first National Park: from a couple of locally organised gatherings with around 30 participants to attracting major events like the Great Scottish Swim, which this year had a record 2,600 participants.
Dozens of events now take place annually including the Scottish Open Water Championships at Loch Venachar, Water Beastie, Lubnaig-End to End and the forthcoming Loch Ard Swim Festival and Loch Lomond Inch by Inch.
The sport is said to be one of the fastest growing in Europe and its inclusion at the 2008 Beijing Olympics is thought to have helped drive membership of groups such as the UK wide Outdoor Swimming Society which has gone from 300 members in 2006 to 23,000 in 2015.
Gordon Watson, chief executive at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “It’s been fantastic to see the growth in open water swimming, with people from around the globe travelling here to compete.
“We have seen a real increase in numbers taking part in outdoor swimming events in the area, which is great news for the National Park bringing a welcome boost to the local economy.
“We are thrilled that Loch Lomond has been selected to host the open water swimming element of the inaugural European Championships in 2018.
“Open water swimming is one of the many ways to get out and get active in the National Park. There is no better and more accessible setting to make the most of the great outdoors and we are committed to investing in facilities to make a visit to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs even better.
“Working with partner organisations, we are proud to have invested in new access routes to help people get out and explore this very special part of Scotland.”