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Tuesday, 19 March 2013



Word soon gets round on Facebook and the words got around...swimmers wanted...oh go on then if you insist. Emails from ITV, co-ordination from the Wild West Swimmers group on Facebook,   B and B booked....just got to sit back and wait now.

What were ITV Television filming for? Well all TV companies promote themselves and ITV are going through a re-brand, new logo's etc. And we were to be a part of it in the form of an IDENT. Which is the brand advertising s in-between programmes and other adverts.

And so it was we headed up to Loch Lomond in Scotland, its a beautiful long loch with the most wonderful surroundings, even if the weather is atrocious its an amazing place to be, the sandy shoreline gives way to clear water which deepens in its golden colour the further you enter into it. Arriving late afternoon to our b and b, the lady owner happy to inform us of local hostries to get an evening meal in. We decided to eat at the Luss hotel (just over the road from where we were staying. A recently refurbished building which is wonderfully relaxing to be in, with real ale, great wines and a log fire and brilliant food!

The following morning, weather lovely and still, air but not too cold and we headed off for a breakfast meeting. It was wonderful to meet so many of the Wild West Swimmers and what a smashing bunch they are too, instantly welcoming and full of brilliant banter. Pots of coffee and tea along with a full Scottish breakfasts for those that wanted them were brought out.!

The crew rushing around organising themselves whilst we had our fill of the local food, and then it was curtains up and time to perform. Heading off to get our wetsuits on i was likened to a load of seals about to be filmed....! Soon enough it was time to 'perform'. Wow, that a set-up and all for us, large reflective umbrella for the filming, even a make up lade in case our lips turned blue with the chill, runners, camera persons, director etc 21 people just to film us....and all their equipment. The crew were all excited....they had seen a seal...impossible said the Wild West never get that sort of wild life in the loch, we all scoured the water, not seeing a solitary head bobbling out of the water  (the news later detailed the sighting!!!) 

Hopping from foot to foot while the crew did their work, we waited whilst they outlined the plan of action. They swept the beach...literally., to remove debris (there was none) and foot prints. We were ready, form queues either side of the camera and when your shoulder was tapped run into the water..oh and mind the sodding great metal wire that runs presumably from the boat house to the depths of the water. We could say what we wanted on the way into the water and while we were swimming, but on the way back and whilst we were running back onto the beach we were instructed not to talk, one can only assume they did not want to see us mouthing the words....gosh that was cold!

Thankfully our backs were turned from the camera for the first entry into the water, at 9 degrees it still had the capacity to take our breaths away, a few howler monkey impressions were heard, the odd bit of open water tourettes kicked in but we all got in and swam to the appointed distance. No time to acclimatise and we were out of the water running past the camera grinning. The crew collectively shivered at our advancement and the odd droplet of water that landed on them! I think they were slightly in awe of what we were doing whilst at the same time trying to comprehend the 'why' factor...were our grins not enough to explain! Did they not get it, they rushed towards us, blankets, hot water bottles and hot drinks at the ready, a room with a form of heater in it for us to shelter from the slight breeze that we were encountering. 

The director and crew revised the footage, discussed new swimmers giving our suggestions too, jumping/diving off of the pier..would we do it they asked.....a collective yes went up! And off we headed to the pier, their boat complete with camera man on board to record the massive splash that we must have created. Oh the back-flips started, the dives and jumps, I think the crew were a little astonished at how at ease we are in the water, I am not sure what they were expecting but I hope that we reassured them that WE are fine in the water, we embrace it, it becomes part of it and its a part of us.

Playtime over and it was time to get in the water and swim again, round and round the boat , we rotated like a neoprene clad shoal of mackerel  The camera rolling, the photographer clicking...did we look good enough. It was hard to know what they were after, although direction was being given we had the freedom to be ourselves in the water.

Heading back to the original swim spot, the runners there with freshly made up hot water bottles  hot drinks and sweets, some when off for a bit of a longer swim, others huddled like penguins in the little room provided for us. The heater providing a gentle warmth that brought fingers and toes back to life.

Given enough time to thaw properly and it was time for skins only ( i.e take the wetsuit off time!). Oh this was going to feel very different. Karen.......was thrilled to see the beach being swept in front of us, removing evidence of our earlier entrances and exits from the water.....i do remember her stating that she would now be requiring this of all the swims she did....i am sure the rest of her group did this for her....or maybe not! I however would love to see it happen!!!

Standing around in our costumes and trunks wrapped in fleece  and foil blankets like lemmings waiting to go off the side of a cliff, the crew were behaving slightly differently, eventually one of them came over....when we get in the water could we try not to make any vocal noise as there was a funeral going on, it then became apparent the wonderful sound of a lone bagpipe echoing mournfully over the water. And as if to prove it a small handful of black clad people came to watch us, i am not sure what they made of us but hopefully we provided a bit of welcome relief on such a day. But as they stood watching the director quietly told us to line up, the same formation as before, and when tapped on the shoulder we were to head to the water.

Now the water was cool before but having been in and out of it all morning now we were non-wetsuit..and not allowed to make a noise...the signal given a brief tap on the shoulder and off we went, oh holy smolly....whispered cursing as the sharp bite of the cold water hit us, it was borderline painful. The swimming no where near as elegant or perfected as before as the breathing and stroke technique wet to pot. Heading out, oh the sweet relief of the warmth of what little sun there was hitting our skin. Grabbing towels and all manner of blankets we shrouded ourselves with as much as we could. And they the words.....could you do it again please. Gulp....the cold was really creeping into our bodies, several of the group actively shivering.

Forming an orderly, now most of collectively shaking, the tap on the shoulder and in we went, not so bad this  time and all to soon over and done with, cut came the call (yes they really do say that!) and the runners were telling us we could get dressed and head back to the first meeting point of the day. We did not need telling twice, heading off (and as per normal leaving everything i own at the venue only to be remember when naked and not able to run back to get them!) we got dressed and headed back to the hotel. Oh one log fire...yes we all took our turn to get as close as we could to it. Bliss, hot drinks, chocolate and all manner of sweets to keep us happy. Disclaimers and permission forms signed and it was time to head home. What a wonderful day, again it was so lovely to finally meet all the Wild West Swimmers, Loch Lomond is amazing and it was great to return to it . The ident came out in January 2013 and has been seen all round the country over and over, its still an amazing surprise when it pops up in the adverts. A fantastic experience!!!  And for those of you that have not seen it here it is there are two versions one for 19 seconds and the other for 31, here's the longer version... I'm the one in the red and black costume with the yellow hat. Hope you like it folks!!!!

And the stars of the show were Pauline Squire (me), Karen weir, Gillian Lester, Kim Lane, Kirstin Scott, Lindsey Carson, Mark Bonner, Robert Hamilton, Jim Cunningham, Peter Warren, James Pollock, Cameron Scott, Mark Cohen, John Pullman, Robert Pytlarczyk, Tom McGuire


  1. Another brilliant blog - i am amazing that you have not been snapped up by some open water swim company / retailer/ coaching company!!!!!

  2. Who is the handsome bloke with the crash helmet on?

  3. The rather dapper and devilishly charming man in the crash helmet is Tom McGuire!

  4. OOOh....can you tell me where I can get a hold of him?

    1. You can contact him through Facebook, he is part of the marvellous group called the Wild West Swimmers

  5. I would like to join the wild west swimmers. How do i go about it. Gerry.

  6. I would like to join the wild West Swimming club.