A STAFF member at a high school is set to become the first Scottish woman to complete a marathon swim of Scotland’s three longest freshwater lochs.

Caroline Connor, 45, who works at Peebles High School, has already swum the 22-mile length of Loch Lomond and a week on Saturday, June 30, she will swim the length of Loch Awe, some 26 miles non-stop. On the first weekend of September she aims to complete the unprecedented hat-trick by swimming Loch Ness, some 23 miles-plus.

Her motivation, apart from her love of open water swimming, is a cause dear to her heart – raising awareness of diabetes.

She was inspired to complete the three Lochs challenge by the death in February of a former pupil at her school, Robbie Pincott, from complications of the disease. He was just 20.

“Robbie had Type 1 diabetes and was diagnosed in his first year at Peebles High,” said Connor, who is a qualified first aider. “He was one of the pupils with Type 1 diabetes that I looked after. I currently look after five pupils with Type 1 and I see the struggles they have day in and day out with the disease.

“I didn’t know anything about it until I went to work in the school office and found out we had pupils with it. It really is horrendous for them.

“I had already swum Loch Lomond to raise money for Diabetes UK, but Robbie’s death has inspired me to complete the three lochs challenge.

“I was heartbroken when I heard of his death and I hope by doing the swims in his memory that I can raise awareness of this dreadful disease.”

Connor has already been given an award by Diabetes UK for her work with the pupils, and she was called to the Scottish Parliament to give evidence to MSPs on how Type 1 diabetes affects children and how there needs to be more awareness in schools of the special needs of affected children.

Her husband Grahame, a school janitor, is a constant supporter who will be on shore when she attempts both swims, which she acknowledges as a very tough task. Connor said: “I need a challenge to relieve me of stress and pressure. Swimming does it for me and always has. I swam competitively until I was 15, some of it while my family and I lived in Chester.

“Then hockey took over. I represented Scotland at hockey at under-21 level but I went back to swimming and a couple of years ago I tried open water swimming – I wish I had found it years ago.”

Some people have achieved the feat of swimming the three lochs, but there’s no record of a Scottish woman swimming all three from one end to another.

Loch Awe at 26 miles will be a particular challenge, and Connor expects to be in the water for up to 18 hours.

She explained: “Most people will be familiar with Loch Lomond and Loch Ness but Loch Awe is longer and that is why I am doing it – it’s the longest and I just have to do it.”