Portsmouth paralympian , 67, becomes first disabled woman to swim the length of Loch Ness non-stop

A 67 year-old paraplegic woman from Portsmouth has become one of the oldest women to swim the length of Loch Ness – and the first disabled swimmer to complete the challenge.

Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 8:46 am

Rosalinda Hardiman, from Copnor, Portsmouth, was left unable to use her legs after being diagnosed with Polio when she was six.

Now, she has completed a 23 mile swim of Loch Ness in just over 20 hours – without stopping once.

The endurance swimmer braved the 13 degree water with a 7.30am start on Sunday September 1, and finishing at 3.40am the next morning.

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Rosalinda Hardiman takes a food break during her 20-hour swim of Loch Ness.
Rosalinda Hardiman takes a food break during her 20-hour swim of Loch Ness.

She said: ‘I have swam the English Channel, but Loch Ness was much harder.

‘The moment I jumped into the water, I thought ‘Oh no, can I do this?’

‘The water was so cold.’

A support boat and crew were on hand at all times during the challenge, but British Long Distance Swimming Association rules meant that she was allowed no physical contact with the boat at any time.

Rosalinda Hardiman, who lost the use of her legs at the age of six, during her 23 mile swim of Loch Ness.

Kevin Murphy, a fellow endurance swimmer and part of the crew supporting Rosalinda, said there was ‘only one word’ to sum up her feat.

He said: ‘It’s inspirational

‘Loch Ness is lacking in buoyancy as a body of water, so she had huge difficulty in stopping to take on food because of the lack of buoyancy.

‘But she has an indomitable spirit.’

Roslinda represented Britain at the Sydney Paralympic Games in 2000 and successfully swam the English Channel in 2009.

But her Loch Ness challenge was almost called-off due to the logistics of finding an accessible boat – which meant using a cattle transporter with a loading ramp.

The former paralympic athlete said: ‘I was so tired by the end I just needed something I could slither on with a bit of help from people on board – I didn’t mind being transported cattle class.

But the ‘level-headed rationalist’ said she had no help from any mythical sea creatures believed to live in the loch.

She said: ‘I don’t believe in the Loch Ness monster.

‘But at times the waves seemed to go on and on, and you could mistake them for ripples.

‘And then you feel something brush against your leg...’