Highlands & Islands

Swimmer crosses the Minch amid rescue drama

Colleen Blair Image copyright The Adventure Show
Image caption Ms Blair is the first person to successfully swim from the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland

A woman became the first person to swim from the Western Isles to the Scottish mainland as one of her fellow swimmers had to be rescued from the Minch.

Colleen Blair, 39, completed the 25-mile crossing in less than 19 hours on Sunday.

But the alarm was raised when a second swimmer Colin Macleod, was separated from his support boat in the Minch.

He was airlifted to Western Isles hospital in Stornoway, where he was said to be recovering well.

A third swimmer, Norman Todd, from Ullapool, abandoned his attempt after he became separated from his swimming partner.

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Media captionSwimmer rescued in bid to cross the Minch

The coastguard were alerted at about midnight after Mr Macleod, who is from Stornoway, went missing.

Caledonian MacBrayne ferry MV Loch Seaforth diverted to the scene north of Gairloch and the swimmer was plucked from the water by a rescue craft launched from the ferry. He was then winched onto the Stornoway coastguard helicopter.

Ms Blair, from Perth, endured a series of stings from Lion's Mane jellyfish before becoming the first person to swim across the Minch.

Image copyright The Adventure Show
Image caption The lights of the Stornoway coastguard helicopter could be seen above the Minch as it searched for Mr Macleod

Wearing a normal swimming costume, cap and goggles - not a wetsuit - she completed the swim in 18.5 hours.

The Scottish Swimming development officer told the BBC's Adventure Show that it was a "tough swim".

"Much longer than I thought, lots more jellies than I thought, colder that I thought, but I'm glad it's done," she said.

Ms Blair was 20 when she swam the English Channel and she was the first person to swim the Pentland Firth, from Orkney to the mainland.

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