Aug 20 2017
When Bro. Dave Stark says he is going for a swim he rarely means a dip in the tepid waters of a heated pool.
Instead he is more likely to be heading for the chilly, wind-swept waters of his favourite Scottish loch.
Earlier this month, Dave, the current Almoner and PM of The Lodge of Erskine No. 1566, and an experienced “open water” swimmer achieved his lifetime ambition – to swim the entire 23-mile (39 kilometre) length of Loch Lomond.
The epic swim began at 5am when 62-year-old Dave, wearing a tri wetsuit, slipped into the cold waters of the loch at Ardlui and with the assistance of a brisk northerly wind he made a good start.
However, as the wind grew stronger he found himself buffeted with waves that slowed his progress for the next 15 kilometres.
His support crew – travelling alongside in a small cabin cruiser – kept Dave supplied with food and drink and helped him keep on course as he followed his plan to break down the marathon swim by simply aiming for each point of land as it appeared.
Six hours into the swim – and after half-a-dozen brief feed stops – Dave had covered just under18 kilometres and was still feeling good.
However, an hour and a half later that was to change when his body started to hurt with an aching back and pain seeping into both shoulders.
His support crew – noting his discomfort – ordered him to swim to the shore just before reaching Luss where he enjoyed the opportunity of being able to stand waist-deep for a brief rest and eat a few sandwiches before continuing his journey.
Dave finally came out of the water as the sun set on the Balloch slipway 13 hours and 20 minutes after his epic swim began at Ardlui to the cheers of many friends who had come to support him.
He admitted later: “The last part of the swim was very hard and I had to dig deep into my reserves. For me this was a dream come true.”
Prior to swimming the length of the loch, Dave, a founder member of the Loch Lomond Loonies – a group who swim in all weathers – had already raised £4500 through the sale of a calendar in support of two good causes: the cancer charity Rainbow Scotland and to assist a young school swimmer to travel to Nicaragua.
When Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014 Dave was invited to take part in the Queen’s Baton relay in recognition of his services to the local swimming community.
Depute PGM, Bro. Robert McPhee said: “Bro. Dave’s achievement is hugely impressive. Swimming this distance in the cold fresh water of a Scottish loch is a very difficult challenge.”