On Saturday 22 September 2018 Vigour Events hosted the 1.4 mile Firth of the Forth Swim for the fourth consecutive year. A record number of 242 swimmers entered the event of which 214 turned up and registered on the day to take part in this crossing. The swim was scheduled to start at 14:10 on slack tide. The Port Authorities gave official permission for the swim and closed the shipping lane for the swim to take place from 14:10 to 15:10 on 22 September 2018.
Conditions on the day was mostly sunny, with scattered clouds, and a Westerly wind predicted to be a maximum strength of 14 m/h. The windy conditions created much chop in the Forth and the water temperature measured 12 C° at the water’s edge. The organisers and safety crew performed a dynamic risk assessment before the event, and concluded that conditions were fit for the swim to go ahead.
At the pre-swim safety briefing the event organisers instructed all swimmers to head for a massive white house that sits prominently just below the original road bridge on the northern side of the Forth, and to use this as their main sighting point. This point was chosen taking into account the speed of the wind as well as the tidal flow that would push swimmers to the east, to ensure that swimmers make landfall at the slipway in North Queensferry on the western side of the Railbridge. The swim started exactly at 14:10, and the swimmers were assisted across the water flanked by a large number of sea kayaks, and powerboats with support crew on board. Though conditions were rough, the swimmers proceeded well across the water. Unfortunately, the wind started picking up when most swimmers were about three quarters across the Forth, which created challenging conditions for all swimmers at the back end of the swim. Combined with the tide changing, a number of swimmers were unable to progress to the slipway at the end of swim and many of the 24 swimmers removed from the water by the safety crew and taken to shore by powerboat found themselves in this unfortunate position. Of the 214 swimmers who started the swim, 190 successfully made it across on their own steam to the finish line at North Queensferry. Despite the fact that there were many cold swimmers after the swim, only four required short-term medical attention, and were reunited with their families once they had stabilised and heated up at the event.
One of rescue boats broke down owing to the damage caused by a freak wave in the early part of the swim. This resulted in the organisers making use of the RNLI’s pre-event offer of assistance with the provision of safety cover for the swim crossing. The organisers would like to express their deep appreciation and gratitude to the RNLI for this generous and important contribution to ensure that all swimmers were safe at all times during the swim. This situation will feed into the revaluation of the risk assessment of the Vigour Events Firth of the Forth Swim, and will result in changes in how this event is managed in the next few years to ensure that the highest levels of health and safety are maintained at all times.
Vigour Events would like to congratulate all the swimmers who took part in the Firth of the Forth Swim on Saturday 22 September 2018 and would like to invite them all back to next year’s crossing.