Aug 19 2010 Hamilton Advertiser
SCOTLAND’S biggest open water swim, due to be staged on Saturday at Strathclyde Loch, has been cancelled.
High levels of blue green algae (BGA), which can have harmful effects if ingested, led to the swim being called off on Tuesday.
More than 2000 people from all over the country – and abroad – were due to take part in the British Gas-sponsored event.
Many had been training for months and were set to raise thousands of pounds for charity.
However, on Tuesday, event organisers Nova International said tests by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency had found that concentrations of BGA in the water were twice the level considered safe for swimmers.
A spokesman said they were in the process of notifying participants of the cancellation and investigating dates on which the event might be re-scheduled.
In July, North Lanarkshire Council temporarily cancelled all sports that involve going into the water at Strathclyde Loch, because of the BGA levels.
Contact with water containing BGA can lead to abdominal pains, vomiting, diarrhoea, sore throats and blistering skin.
It is not the first time BGA has forced the cancellation of water sports at the loch. Since the latest levels were detected, weekly tests have been underway to find out if it was safe to return to the water.
Nova communications director David Hart said BGA levels had last week been within acceptable levels.
He added: “We requested that tests continue and today (Tuesday) we learned the levels had significantly gone back up.
“It would have been irresponsible to wait another day to see if the level will change so we took the decision to postpone the event.”
It’s thought last weekend’s warm weather influenced BGA levels.
Mr Hart added: “We are in the process of sending all participants an email, and where possible, a text message, to advise of the decision.”
Participants will be advised within the next seven days of possible alternative dates for the swim. All entrants will have the option of deferring their entry until 2011 or applying for a full refund of entry fee if any proposed date for later in 2010 is unsuitable.
Last year’s inaugural Great Scottish Swim at Strathclyde Park attracted 1000 participants, with Russian Danil Serebrenikov winning the event in a time of 18 mins 3 secs.
Park staff will now be looking at what can be done to ensure that BGA does not impact on the International Children’s Games sailing competition due to take place at the loch in 12 months’ time.