Today the Wild Highlanders met Gary Walters and John Raboin from Brianerd, Minnesota USA who are in the area for a whacky challenge. Gary is here to swim across Loch Ness while John tries to entice the Loch Ness monster, our Nessie, to come and taste the brave American – all in the name of charity of course.
Gary has a facebook page titled ‘Walters Wacky Adventures’ and snippets of film, photos and text tell the expedition story. He is raising awareness and money for Kinship Partners (www.kinshippartners.org) who run a youth mentoring programme in his home area and he has undertaken a number of very impressive physical challenges over the past 10 years.
Sadly the weather has not been kind and high winds have created significant waves on the loch which are delaying Gary’s big swim. However, Gary was courageous enough to swim with us this morning during our regular 10am Saturday morning swim from Dores beach. We made up a group of at least 16 swimmers, a mix of ages and abilities, wetsuited and non-wetsuited: Karen, Pat, Di, Laura, Douglas, Frances, Sandra, Fiona, Jen, Helen, Martin, Jonathan, Ruth, Hilary, Helen B and Gary (apologies if I have forgotton anyone!) who all enjoyed the waves. The Wild Highlanders can be found in Loch Ness all year round and enjoy the variable conditions we experience. I’m hoping we will be able to further assist Gary and John to complete their quest before they have to return to the USA.
During our usual post-swim coffee and cakes at the Dores Inn we tossed around some ideas to get this swim done and hope to have some positive news soon. In the meanwhile – many thanks to John and Gary for picking up the tab for the drinks and cakes. What an absolute treat. You are a fantastic pair of gentlemen and the Wild Highlanders wish you evey success for the swim and fundraising.
Of course we all know that Nessie is a vegetarian so Gary will be safe enough even if she decides to delight him with an appearance.
Gary completed his Walters Wacky Challenge for 2013 by successfully swimming the width of Loch Ness, twice!, on the first of September. John accompanied Gary in a kayak with Ian and Martin providing the safety support. I was honoured to accompany Gary in the water. Conditions were wavy but Gary coped well, even surviving a brush with an unknown and unseen creature below the surface, and deserves his success.