Newmarket swimmer thrives back in familiar surroundings

HOME WATERS: Iain Johnston with dog Sparky prior to his Firth of Forth Swim
HOME WATERS: Iain Johnston with dog Sparky prior to his Firth of Forth Swim
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Iain Johnston has admitted that he was surprised with his performance as he returned to his roots at the recent Firth of Forth Swim event in Scotland.

The famous race challenges competitors to swim the 1.4-mile width of the River Forth below the iconic Railway Bridge from Fife to Edinburgh.

And 52-year-old Johnston, who is a member of the Newmarket Swimming Club’s Masters section, produced a memorable display in front of watching family to finish second behind sponsored swimmer Howard James.

On top of that the Scot, along with James, was one of the only two entrants from a field of 102 to swim under the 30-minute mark, with Johnston clocking 29 minutes and 13 seconds.

“I used to pass the bridge all the time and always wanted to do the race. This was my first time,” he said.

“It was a big surprise to finish as high up as I did. I did not expect that when I was standing at the water’s edge.

“I remember seeing the leader at one stage and thinking that I must have been doing well to keep up with him.

“I am really happy, especially because this was also the first time my mum had seen me swim competitively.”

Despite fulfilling a long-term ambition, Johnston has no plans to walk away from the competitive sporting environment.

“I will take the rest of the year off, but then I will get back to it,” he added.

“It is nice to do something you are good at.

“Open water swimming gives you a massive sense of freedom. You can be out in the middle of a Loch and the views are stunning.

“Because of my age open water suits me. The pool is for the young, talented guys.”