A FIVE mile swim off Largs featuring accomplished swimmers in the early 1930s had to be brought to a halt as frozen competitors were forced to surrender in the face of the chilly waters and adverse conditions.

With the explosion in outdoor swimming during the past year, not just in Largs, but around the country, the News discovered the story as we delved back into our archives to 90 years ago to discover taking the plunge has always been popular.

In the late 1920s and early 30s, there was an annual swimming competition which was completed over the long distance between Largs to Kerrycroy in Bute - and it didn't always go entirely to plan.

The competition attracted massive audiences to the Clyde Coast to watch the spectacle, as shown by our archive photo.

Before swimming pools were widely in use, Largs was a focal point for such races on the Firth of Clyde, attracting thousands of visitors from all over Scotland.

However, the big swim in early September 1931 became something of a fiasco, according to the report in the Largs and Millport Weekly News.

It told how the Largs Amateur Swimming Club event from Kerrycroy to the town was overcome by stormy conditions, leaving the six hardy competitors stranded in the water.

We reported that six swimmers made a ‘courageous, if unavailing, fight against the Firth of Clyde 'in a most petulant mood’ - and told how all were forced to eventually give up.

A holiday crowd of several thousand people had lined Largs beach in the hope of greeting the brave winner, but it proved to be in a vain and instead competitors received a rousing reception for their plucky efforts as they were brought ashore in motor launches.

We reported: “Although the weather started bright and warm, the sea as observed from Largs did not appear to be unduly rough.

"The weather in mid-channel though was extremely boisterous, and from the start of the course of five miles, five furlongs, the competitors had to battle against a strong north-easterly breeze, fierce currents and intense coldness."

"Miss Bel Weir, Hunter’s Quay, took the more direct course, while other swimmers struck out in the direction of Wemyss Bay with the expectation that they would get the advantage of the afternoon tide.

"The first victim of the elements was Mrs Glen, who retired after an hour. She complained of the extreme cold, as it was becoming apparent that the testing conditions were causing major problems for the rest of the competitors.

"Miss Weir quickly established a commanding lead, and when about two miles out from Kerrycroy, she had a lead of fully 350 yards from Miss Edith Warden, Helensburgh, and Nellie Marshall, Largs. Mrs Hughes of Largs was one of the other swimmers.

"Nearing the island of Cumbrae, about three and a half miles out from Kerrycroy, Miss Weir was forced to give up after nearly two and a half hours in the cold waters, due to the numbing conditions. Miss Marshall retired shortly, and was placed in second place, fully half a mile behind."

Miss Edith Warden, from Helensburgh, had a big lead against her two rivals, the News reported, but after a further hour or so all three signalled their retiral.

Given the unusual circumstances, no awards were given, with Mrs White, wife of the then-provost, left at the Largs bathing station waiting to make the presentation.