Blind swimmer makes loch history
By Heidi Soholt, Sunday Times – 4th August 2012.
BLIND extreme sports fanaticDean Dunbar has never let disability stand in his way and yesterday he became the first person to swim across Britain’s highest loch.
Dunbar took 15 minutes to swim the 900m length of Loch Etchachan, in the Cairngorms, 3,000ft above sea level. He braved a water temperature of between 8C and 10C, while snow lay on the ground nearby.
The 43-year-ol, from Perthshire has rod-cone dystrophy — a degenerative condition that has robbed him of most of his sight. Speaking after his successful attempt, he said: “I’m over the moon. The adrenaline buzz is kicking in and I think I’ll have a smile on my face for the next few days.
“I got severe cramp from the cold after about five minutes in the water and my legs were seizing up on me — it was worth the pain, though.”
Dunbar was also injured while biking up to the loch. “I
went over the handlebars and smashed into some rocks — I hit my nose, but luckily it isn’t broken.
“It’s just as well I was wearing my helmet and knee pads or I’d have been a goner.”
The nine-mile journey to the loch also involved a hike. Dunbar was supported by a team of four who helped guide him across the rough terrain.
In the water he was accompanied by his wife, Rhona, who paddled alongside him in a small, light inflatable boat.*
*The “small, light inflatable boat” was an Alpackaraft Yak, kindly loaned to us by Alpackaraft.