WATCH: Sea swimmers aim to tackle 260 miles to Bergen
A hardy group of Scottish sea swimmers will be plunging into the North Sea in the hope of setting a new world record from Lerwick to Bergen.
In July next year, eight bare-skinned athletes will join together for the point to point relay – swimming continuously from Shetland to Norway in a 260-mile crossing over the course of six to seven days.
Norman Todd, from Ullapool, is among the participants.
According to the rulebook, wetsuits cannot be worn and each swimmer must be in the water for an hour, with an unbroken sequence.
Norman, whose shudderingly cold ice-swimming video in Loch Glascarnoch near Garve in Wester Ross went viral earlier this year, has never taken on such a feat.
A former whitefish fisherman, he is no stranger to Shetland and this summer will be heading north for a dip, as well as making arrangements for the challenge.
At least one Shetland swimmer is expected to join him, with a Shetland boat and an Ullapool vessel helping out on the big day.
Norman said the idea came to him at home and through the magic of social media “within 15 minutes I had an entire swim team”.
All are strong swimmers, he said, and since hatching the plan he has had interest from across the globe.
“The weather is without a doubt the biggest issue with going across the North Sea,” said Norman, with the prospect of two to three-metre waves to contend with.
“Even in July, you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
As well as the physical challenge, there’s a formidable mental test too, swimming through the night and staving off fatigue.
Norman’s training for the mammoth sea swim begins in October, building up resilience to the cold.
Goose fat is allowed, although Norman has another plan.
“Yeah you can use that but to be perfectly honest the only thing that works best is body
“I’m going to have great pleasure in putting a stone of fat on over the winter time.”
He started sea swimming about 12 years ago and feels at peace in the water.
“When you go out there it’s just you and nature.
“There’s no mobile phone, there are no distractions, there’s nothing – just the feeling of being
in the sea and really feeling part of the sea and feeling part of nature.”
The Lerwick to Bergen swim will be in aid of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Project.
The project aims to reduce the use of single use plastics which are damaging to the marine environment.