Nicola MacColl

During winter, when most of us were piling on the extra layers and cranking up the heating, Nicola MacColl, Quality Systems Manager at Blar Mhor, was taking to the water and swimming in nearby lochs. The Scoop caught up with her to find out why…

“I was diagnosed with young onset Parkinson’s disease in 2017. Exercise eases my symptoms and I wanted a challenge to keep me active over winter so when I found out about the Polar Bear Challenge, it seemed like the obvious thing to do.

“The cold water cools your blood and may reduce brain inflammation, it may even prevent dementia and it is good for your mental health. You certainly feel on a high when you come out of the water and start to warm up.

“I decided to start with the entry level no-wetsuit challenge to see if I could do it. This meant completing two swims a month, each a minimum of 200 metres, from November to March.”

When The Scoop spoke to her, Nicola just had two more swims to go. She swims in a few different places: Fort William from the west end car park (Loch Linnhe); Glenfinnan pontoon (Loch Shiel); and Corpach basin (Loch Eil), when she passes the farms she is sure to wave to her colleagues as she swims by.

“There is a regular friendly group who swim every morning from Fort William, with cake on a Saturday. For safety it’s important not to swim on your own, or you can have a spotter on the bank,” she continues.

What’s next for Nicola?

“Now that I have almost completed this year’s Polar Bear Challenge and I know that I can do it, I am going to up the ante and do a longer distance Polar Bear Challenge this winter, and in doing so I hope to raise some funds for Parkinson’s UK.”

Find out more about the Polar Bear Challenges at https://polarbearchallenges.com/
Good luck Nicola!