Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to wear a wetsuit?

Due to the water temperature in Loch Ness, wetsuits are recommended for both races. As well as keeping your core body warm wetsuits will provide extra buoyancy in the water. However, for experienced swimmers we will have a non-wetsuit category for both the Wee and Big Yin.

Qualification Swim

To qualify for the Monster Swim non-wetsuit category you will need to attend a qualification swim at 5pm, Friday 16th August 2013 where your abilities will be evaluated by the organisers.

Please Note: If you are in any doubt of your tolerance levels, then we would suggest that you arrange to bring a wetsuit along to ensure that you can take part in the swim on the day

Wetsuit Hire - we have teamed up with more information

I have never worn a wetsuit before. How will this affect my swimming?

Wetsuits will:

  • help maintain your core body temperature.
  • increase your buoyancy in the water (the thicker the wetsuit the greater the increase in your buoyancy).
  • Effect your flexibility, again the thicker the wetsuit the more constrictive you will find it.

Do I need to buy a wetsuit for the event?

You don’t need to buy a wetsuit. You can hire them for a week, month or the whole season from triathlon, outdoor swimming shops online. Details of website hire will be provided as soon as possible.

What kind of wetsuit should I get?

You would ideally need a swimming/triathlon specific wet suit. These are purpose made and use a more flexible material underneath the arms to allow for greater movement.There are many different brands. The best thing to do is try on a few different makes and see which you feel most comfortable in. Remember they are supposed to be figure hugging so don’t be shy to go a bit on the tighter side, it will feel looser in the water!

What kind of goggles should I be wearing on the day?

Goggles vary a lot in size, shape and feel so it’s hard to recommend one brand or type. The best thing you can do is try a few different types on and see which ones fit your face the best. Make sure to do this well in advance of the race. You will need time to get used to training in them. We also recommend you bring two pairs of goggles (one tinted for sunny days and one clear for cloudy days) with you in case one breaks.

I've never done an open water swim before, what can I expect?

There are many differences between pool swimming and wild swimming specifically loch/lake swimming. The main ones are:

  • Temperature – Pools are generally kept between 27 and 29°C. Swimming in lochs/lakes can see you swimming in temps between 10 – 18°C. The decrease in temp can cause an increase in stroke rate so be conscious of this and try to keep a steady stroke rate.
  • Buoyancy – Fresh water is of a similar buoyancy than the pool. However wearing a wetsuit will increase your buoyancy.
  • Waves/Chop – This will mainly effect your breathing. Having the ability to breathe to either side will benefit you greatly in open water as you can breathe in the opposite direction of the oncoming chop/waves.
  • Sighting-  Unlike swimming pools, lochs don't have a black line at the bottom which can help direct you. Instead you will have to be more aware of your surroundings and sight as you swim. The views are also more interesting than in the local swimming pool.
  • Eco System – Be prepared to see wildlife both above and hopefully below the water! You never know but you may see Atlantic salmon, trout, arctic char and of course Nessie! None of which you will see down at your local pool!!

Am I good enough to enter?

If you can swim the distance of your race in the pool without stopping then you are good enough to enter the Monster Swim. The Wee Nessie (distance to be confirmed) will be a good taster if this is your first swim race. Both the "Big Yin" (distance to be confirmed) and the Wee events are open to all levels of ability/speed so don’t worry about being last, we will be cheering everyone on right up until the finish line.

Am I old enough to enter?

You need to be 14 or over to enter the "Wee Nessie" and 16 or over to enter the "Big Yin" swim.

Is it okay to do breaststroke?

Yes. Whether it’s freestyle, breaststroke or even butterfly, you can swim any stroke that is on your front. We advise you not to swim backstroke, as you will not be able to see where you’re going or if there is anyone or anything in your way.

What happens if I get tired, or I’m struggling in the water and need assistance?

There will be a safety briefing on the day of your swim. We will cover everything you need to know about staying safe in the water and we will provide lifeguard safety cover in the water. This means you’re never out of sight and our safety team will be on hand to assist should the need arise.

I have a disability. Can I take part in the Monster Swim?

We actively encourage people with disabilities to take part in this fantastic event as long as it is safe for them to do so. If you have any questions, just email the team at

What time should I arrive?

Please show up 1 hour before your swim starts. We need to go through a safety briefing with everyone and you will need to register when you arrive. You will be sent the time of your wave closer to the event.

I have never done anything like this before. Can you offer any advice of what to do before the swim starts?

You might not feel up for it but make sure you eat something well before your swim. You will expend a lot of energy not only on swimming, but also keeping warm. Try eating a nutritious breakfast at least two hours before you swim. Toast, oatmeal and cereal are all good options; steer clear of fatty, heavy foods that will sit in your stomach for a long time… the full Scottish breakfast for after your swim! 

Note: some people are sensitive to things like milk products and acidic fruit before they swim. Practice your morning routine in training. Drink plenty of water the day and morning before your swim. Being properly hydrated will help with endurance, ability to cope with the cold and recovery after the swim.

Will my family and friends be able to watch the race?

Yes, of course get them to come along and make a day of it! This course is great for spectators; they will be able to see the entire course from the beach, so bring them along!

What do I need to bring with me?

Besides your cheering squad, you should bring along the following:

  • Swimming costume.
  • 2 pairs of goggles (in case of loss or damage to one pair).
  • Wetsuit.(optional)
  • Towels.
  • Some warm clothes for before and after the swim.
  • Thermos flask full of a hot drink for after the swim.

Will there be an opportunity to acclimatise in the loch before the race?

Before each race starts all competitors will be given a few minutes to get in the loch and acclimatise prior to the start gun going.

Will it be a land or water start?

All participants will start on land unless there is a change, due to conditions on the day.

What does my entry fee include?

Entry fee includes Monster Swim T-shirt, Monster Swim swimming cap and a one-off Monster swim medal.

Does Nessie actually exist?

We couldn't possibly comment, if you go to Dores, why not pay resident Nessie Expert Steve Feltham a call, whose research caravan is in front of the race start. Check out his videos on Youtube for a description of his passion.

Monster Swim

August 17th 2013, Loch Ness