Training for the Monster Swim

Make sure you're ready for Nessie!

Swimming in open water is a wonderful experience and no two experiences are alike. Current and previous weather all have an effect in changing to conditions. The following guide gives you an idea on how to prepare yourself for the big day!


  • Acclimatise gradually. Over various sessions, slowly increase the length of time that you stay in for.
  • Avoid swimming alone. If you can’t get anyone to swim in the water with you then make sure somebody is watching you from land.
  • Wear a brightly coloured cap (the brighter the better) so other water users can see you more clearly.
  • If you are unsure with an area, seek local advice before getting in.
  • Watch out for visible hazards.
  • Be careful of non-visible hazards e.g. depth, tides, currents, water temperature & water quality.
  • Always be aware of exit points during your swim.
  • Potentially the biggest danger to open water swimmers is motorized crafts. Avoid swimming in locations where they operate.
  • Get dry and warm quickly after your swim.

Pre-race training

Based on a 25 metre pool: 1 mile = 65 lengths in a 25 metre pool

To get ready for your Monster Swim we recommend swimming two to three times a week. Start off swimming as much as you comfortably can, taking breaks when you need them and work up your distance from there.

Try to commit two of your sessions a week to building up distance, while committing the remaining one to interval swimming. This means varying your speed, stroke, distance and rest times to build up your body’s comfort level in the water. Two weeks before the Monster Swim you should be able to swim the total distance of your ‘race’ comfortably without stopping to rest.

On race day you will likely experience some nervousness, which will likely translate to starting your swim faster than you think, so make sure to prepare with some speed work in your training, and try to remember to relax on race day. Smooth and steady is the best way to start. You can always build up from there.

If you’re not sure how to start training, here are a few examples of workouts to get you started for your Monster Swim:

Beginner workout #1 (500m)

  • Warm-up:  4 x 25m
  • Main Set: 25m, 50m, 75m, 75m, 50m, 25m
  • Cool-down: 4 x 25m

Beginner workout #2 (750m)

  • Warm-up: 3 x 50m
  • Main set: 5 x 100m building each 25m, so the last 25m of each 100m is the fastest.
  • Cool-down: 2 x 50m

Beginner workout #3 (1000m)

  • Warm-up: 3 x 50m
  • Main set:
    • 1 x 125m long and relaxed + 5 x 25m fast
    • 1 x 100m long and relaxed + 4 x 25m fast
    • 1 x 75m long and relaxed  + 3 x 25m fast
    • 1 x 50m long and relaxed  + 2 x 25m fast
    • 1 x 25m long and relaxed  + 1 x 25m fast
  • Cool-down: 2 x 50m

Getting used to cold water swimming

Training in a pool is a great way to prepare for your race, but nothing beats getting into open water to be race ready!

The water temperature in Loch Ness will be somewhere between 10-13°C, so training your body to be ready for the cold temperature is also very important. In the few weeks leading up to the Monster Swim try to do two open water sessions per week. Not only will this help your body slowly acclimatize to the cold water, it will also help you get used to wearing a wet suit, which can feel very different (more buoyant and restrictive) than swimming in a regular swim suit.

Some tips to get you into the cold water:

  • Wear a swim cap or two to help keep your body heat from escaping through your head.
  • Enter the water slowly to give your body a chance to adjust to the cold and to avoid shortness of breath.
  • Wear a wet suit designed for open water swimming/triathlon (preferably the one you’ll be wearing on race day so you can get used to its feel).
  • As soon as you’re done swimming, get out of your wet swim suit and put on dry, warm clothes. A warm drink helps too.

Monster Swim

August 17th 2013, Loch Ness