A PENINSULA local who took to cold water swimming during lockdown has announced plans for an epic effort to help lifeboat crews in Helensburgh and beyond.

Victoria McQueen, from Clynder, is gearing up to swim 10 miles over one month in the freezing water of the local loch as part of a community fund-raising event hosted by the RNLI titled The Mayday Mile.

The 48-year-old began her cold water swimming journey in late November of last year with Cove group The Sunday Dolphins.

Victoria told the Advertiser: “They’re an amazing group of women who made me feel at ease with it being my first ‘swimble’. I mainly started as I had heard of the benefits to those with chronic back conditions and the mental health benefits.

“I have now completed over 110 swims in skins – just a swimming costume, no wetsuit – but I do wear diving gloves and boots and not forgetting a bobble hat.

“I’m mostly in the Gareloch on my own. Sometimes my friend Ali joins me which is lovely to have some company, mainly at weekends.

“The benefits have been outstanding – reduced back pain and an increase in wellbeing.”

And now Victoria is using her new hobby to raise funds for the lifeboat service, and is encouraging others to do the same.

“I thought it fitting that I could raise some much needed funds using my newly founded passion for open cold water swimming,” she continued.

“I read that due to an increase in open and cold water swimming during the pandemic, with swimming pools closed, they have seen an increase in call outs for those who had got into difficulties, and were struggling with raising funds.

“Anyone can sign up to complete a mile or longer throughout May, skipping, walking in Wellingtons etc. Or they are welcome to join me swimming.”

Howard Morrison, lifeboat operations manager at the RNLI’s Helensburgh station, said: “We are very grateful to Vicki for her support of the RNLI.

“With the easing of restrictions more people are returning to activities on the water and we urge them to respect the water and stay safe.”

Victoria will take to the waters of the Gareloch on Saturday, May 1 and will complete her swim journey over one month.

To donate, visit themaydaymile.rnli.org/fundraising/victoria-mcqueens-fundraising-page.

To sign up for your own fund-raiser by walking, running, swimming or skipping, visit themaydaymile.rnli.org.