Trio swim from Elie to North Berwick for fun

Tom Blankenstein, Catriona Quirie and Gavin Calder swam the 10 miles across the Forth from Elie to North Berwick.
Tom Blankenstein, Catriona Quirie and Gavin Calder swam the 10 miles across the Forth from Elie to North Berwick.

Three friends took on a lengthy challenge at the weekend – swimming from Elie to North Berwick.

Tom Blankenstein, Catriona Quirie and Gavin Calder took five hours to swim the 10 miles in perfect weather conditions on Saturday morning.

Tom, who is originally from Kirkcaldy and is a radiology doctor at Victoria Hospital, explained: “The swim was just a challenge for ourselves to see if it could be done.

“On a trip to North Berwick I was looking at the beach and thought I bet you could swim to Elie from here, I’d quite like to do that.”

After contemplating the challenge, the swimmers opted to swim from Elie to North Berwick so they could use the Law as a guide.

Tom said: “One problem with open water swimming is you don’t know if you’re going the wrong direction as it can be hard to see where you are aiming for unless there is a distinct landmark.

The trio took five hours to swim the 10 miles.

The trio took five hours to swim the 10 miles.

“If we were swimming to Elie I don’t think you’d be able to see the harbour until you were about a mile offshore, but swimming the opposite way you’ve got Berwick Law as a guide.

“It’s so prominent, that even from the water level if you pop your head up just out the water you can see it.”

Catriona, who is a doctor at Victoria Hospital, and Gavin, a teacher at Edinburgh Academy, have both been doing open water swimming for longer than Tom, who has done it for around two years.

Tom said: “We were really lucky in choosing to do it on Saturday about two months ago, as the sea conditions were good and the weather was perfect.

“There was a rowing regatta on in North Berwick and a couple of hundred people were on the beach watching and wondering about the swimmers coming in.

“We had friends and family waiting for us and they told people what we were doing and it was announced on the tannoy, so we had quite a reception. There wasn’t a soul about in Elie when we set off at 7am!

“It was really warm and really calm and we were just really lucky. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, although there were a lot of jellyfish.

“Some were probably close to a meter in diameter, they were really big.

“We got a few stings, but not anything too major.

“A seal popped up at one point and there were birds.

“Fortunately there were not too many tankers travelling up the Forth at that time.”

The swimmers were accompanied by a motorboat for safety reasons and to provide them with food.