A SWIMMER from Helensburgh earned a bronze medal after braving the UK’s “toughest open water adventure race” recently.

Alex Johnson, 16, a Helensburgh Swimming Club member and pupil at Lomond School, competed in Red Bull’s Neptune Steps event at Glasgow’s Maryhill Locks on Saturday, March 23.

Alex smashed the course record by more than a minute to take third place in the endurance test which was taking place in the city for the fifth consecutive year. He is the youngest competitor to take to the podium since Red Bull opened its elite field to under 18s this year.

Alex beat a field of 450 men tackling a gruelling course through the icy waters in heats throughout Saturday.

Six hundred competitors braved the shivering temperatures of eight degrees Centigrade in the men’s and women’s races, in front of 3,000 spectators.

They tackled 420m of open water swimming and climbed through gushing waterfalls up seven canal lock gates using ropes and ladders.

It has been described as ‘a race like no other’ – and while it was certainly no walk in the park, Alex made sure it was a day to remember.

With a time of six minutes and 18 seconds, Alex, the only Scot on the podium, was just 13 seconds behind winner and Welsh international swimmer Dan Jones, who took the title for the second year in a row.

Alex was also just seven seconds behind second placed Andrew Horsfall-Turner, a Welsh-based swimming coach and tri-athlete, who has now taken the runner-up spot three times in a row.