Staying at home is the new going out and people in the Western Isles have received thanks and congratulations from health and emergency services for following the rules during lockdown.

But for some it’s proved a challenge to keep going on their preferred form of exercise, with outdoor swimming one of the recreations that’s on hold during the Coronavirus crisis.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a safety guidance warning on Friday (17 April) calling for regular swimmers and surfers to stay out of the sea.

Minch swimmer Colin Macleod has immediately spotted a new fundraising opportunity – he’s inviting open water swimmers to stay at home over the May bank holiday weekend, planning an online outdoor bathing party in aid of the RNLI on Saturday 2 May.

Colin launched his campaign yesterday (Monday 20 April) with the call to “Bathe at home for the RNLI.”

He said: “Hebridean Sea Swimmers Group is inviting you all to an online stay at home outdoor bath/bin/pool party to raise funds for the RNLI.

“This is open to everyone around the world, so please feel free to share the love, as we could all do with a bit of cheer in our lives just now.

“There’s a Facebook group set up for folk to share photos and videos at www.facebook.com/groups/705457036857908/

“As a charity, the RNLI depends on our donations so it can go on saving lives and keeping us and our loved ones safe. RNLI lifesavers are our lifeline – the lifeboat crews who provide 24-hour search and rescue, the lifeguards keeping watch on 240 of the busiest beaches and the RNLI safety teams and educators working tirelessly to stop people getting into trouble in the first place.”

Open water swimmers have been asked by the MCA to give the sea a miss and take their exercise in some other way.

In last week’s warning they said: “We appreciate that for some people their exercise, be it surfing or swimming might ordinarily involve using the coast and its resources. 

“But we would ask people to think seriously about the unintended consequences of what could happen if something went wrong while they were in the sea or at the coast.

“As we know, all too well, the sea can be a dangerous place for even the most experienced swimmer or surfer.

“We will continue to urge people to give the coast a miss because we want to prevent our emergency responders and their families being put at risk of coronavirus and also to reduce avoidable pressure on the NHS.”

Colin’s alternative plan for outdoor swimming without getting in the sea has been enthusiastically received by the swimmers of the Hebrides, with 110 people already signed up as members of the Facebook group and a JustGiving account now open at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/batheathomeforthernli

 Picture shows Colin’s outdoor bathing arrangements, complete with ‘Duckman’ and his family