Jesmond pool instructor records a dangerous first

Eilidh's uncle Eric and dad Neil help her ashore after her swim

Eilidh Macdonald, a 22-year old swimming instructor at Jesmond Pool, has become the first person to swim the treacherous waters of the Little Minch, between the Scottish Islands of Skye and Harris. The 15 mile crossing took Macdonald nine hours and 33 minutes. The Little Minch is considered harder to swim than the English channel due to its strong currents.

Eilidh has family in the Western Isles and it was her uncle, Murray Macleod, who suggested she attempt the swim. Wearing a wetsuit, Eilidh dived into the icy waters off Waternish, on Skye, at 11am on Thursday 3 June and finished just after 8:30pm, arriving at a rocky headland on Harris.

“There was only one point I felt like giving up and that was not far from the end. I kept looking for the headland and I saw that I was level with it. But I kept telling myself “just touch the wall”, I would have regretted it if I had given up. I had cramp from after six miles and there were thousands of jellyfish around, but I was pretty determined to make it”, says Eilidh, who decided to attempt the crossing out of a sense of adventure.

“When I graduated in the summer of 2009, I wanted a year with no essays or exams, but I still wanted a challenge of some kind. Although I was brought up in York, a lot of my family live on the Isle of Lewis and during my summer holidays after graduating, my uncle Murray suggested that I challenge myself to swim the Little Minch.”

As well as going into the record books, Eilidh has also raised cash for three charities, Martin’s House Children’s Hospice, in Yorkshire, Bethesda Hospice, in Stornoway, and the Cat Welfare and Rescue Trust.