A large scale search and rescue operation was launched on the Forth after difficult weather conditions affected a swimming event.
One swimmer needed urgent medical help after struggling against a strong tide during the Firth of Forth Swimming event on Saturday afternoon, while lifeboat crews also had to rescue another cold and exhausted participant who similarly got into difficulty.
The RNLI lifeboat from South Queensferry was launched along with the South Queensferry Coastguard Rescue Team following reports to HM Coastguard that safety boats were struggling to cope with the windy conditions.
Kinghorn RNLI lifeboat was placed on standby, while the Scottish Ambulance Service also attended.
The Courier understands that the lifeboat crew had been initially involved in plucking a woman from the water when a second female swimmer was said to be slipping in and out of consciousness and had swallowed water.
That woman was treated by paramedics on the shore and both were eventually able to go home following further care at the South Queensferry lifeboat station.
A spokesperson for the RNLI said the lifeboat crew returned soon afterwards to perform a sweep of the water and help safety boats ensure all 214 entrants had exited the water safely.
HM Coastguard duty commander Mark Rodaway said: “An extensive search of the area was conducted until we were able to ascertain from the organisers that everyone had been accounted for.”
The swim started from South Queensferry leaving at Hawes Pier, following the Forth Bridge to finish at the old pier at North Queensferry – a distance of 1.4 miles.
Organisers Vigour Events stressed that all entrants agreed to a disclaimer prior to taking part, while on application all swimmers had to submit an expected completion time due to the water conditions and time constraints.
The company’s Robert Hamilton said there had been a tremendous amount of local support on the day, with four power boats and 20 kayakers part of the safety team.
He said: “Some of the swimmers said they had not seen the water change so quickly like it did in a short space of time.”
A local swimming coach, who did not want to be named, described conditions as being “suitable” at the outset, although he did say it was for experienced swimmers and not novices.
But a number of participants said there was a large swell midway across and that the estuary became quite choppy fairly suddenly.
Around 190 swimmers had finished the swim by the time the conditions changed, and the remaining 24 or so were helped from the water as a precaution.