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Stuff your high road.. I've swum the length of the bonnie banks; JESSICA, 16, BECOMES YOUNGEST TO SWIM 22 MILES OF LOCH LOMOND; Teenager sets new record.. and now plans to take on challenge of the English Channel.

Byline: Heather Greenaway

Tenacious teenager Jessica Morrison has become the youngest person to swim the length of Loch Lomond.

The 16-year-old schoolgirl took 11 hours and 26 minutes to complete the 22-mile non-stop swim from Balloch in Dunbartonshire to Ardlui in Argyll.

Jessica, who is one of only 65 people to complete the gruelling crossing, now has the English Channel in her sights.

The adventure-loving teen, of Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Borders, said: "There were times when I thought I was never going to reach the shore but I just kept swimming.

"I kept telling myself the end was just around the next bend and then the next. The thought of a chicken sandwich kept me powering on through the pain threshold.

"I left Balloch at 5.45am and 11 hours later I clambered out of the loch on to Ardlui beach to a round of applause from my mum and dad. I was a bit worried my legs would not hold me up but they did.

"My first feeling was one of relief to have made it but I also felt sad that it was all over and my dream had been fulfilled."

Jessica, who raised PS1199 for Berwick Cancer Cars - a charity who cover travel costs for local cancer patients - added: "I fell in love with pool swimming when I was 10. When I was 13, my mum asked if I would like to try open water swimming - I did and was instantly hooked. I just love the sense of freedom it gives you. There is no better feeling on earth.

"After taking part in a relay swim across Loch Lomond for the Beatson last year, I reckoned I could do the whole distance solo. So for the last 10 months I have been training intensely - swimming in open water for 12 hours every weekend in preparation for the big day.

"I would do it all again in a heartbeat but I've got my eyes set on a new challenge - the English Channel. It's about the same distance but it will be 100 times harder so I think I will wait a little while and give my parents a chance to recover from my last challenge."

Jessica, who is a member of the Borders Elite Swim Team, was coached by Robert Hamilton, who runs Vigour Events - a company specialising in open water swimming events and coaching.

Robert sailed alongside Jessica on her Loch Lomond expedition, encouraging her and helping keep up her strength by throwing snacks attached to a line every 45 minutes.

He said: "Jessica is an incredible young woman. She is the youngest person by three years to swim the length of Loch Lomond, which is an amazing achievement. She was in the water for nearly 12 hours, taking only 45-second treading water breaks to feed.

"Jessica is very determined and extremely focused. She lives in Berwick and travelled up to Callander every weekend for 20 months to train. Now that's dedication.

"The English Channel is a tough swim but there is no doubt in my mind that Jessica is capable of such a feat. She has a very bright future."

The English Channel is a tough swim but Jessica is capable of such a feat. She has a very bright future

CAPTION(S):

brave. Jessica during her tough Loch Lomond challenge

DEDICATED Schoolgirl trained for her loch swim for 20 months

MAKING A SPLASH Jessica set a new record Pic David Johnstone

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 26, 2018
Words:576
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