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Colin, Norman and Colleen's supporters at the quayside see them off

Stornoway open-water swimmer Colin Macleod can see the end of his biggest challenge to date, with the Rubha Reidh lighthouse in his sights as he heads across open sea on the Big Minch Swim.

Colin and his fellow swimmers Norman Todd (Ullapool) and Colleen Blair were forced to postpone their attempt to make history’s first swimmer crossing of the North Minch until today (Sunday July 8th) because of strong south-westerly winds on Saturday. They left Stornoway harbour in the early hours of this morning (Sunday July 8th)  on board a support vessel for a 4.30am start from Lemreway.

The swim, calculated to take between 14 and 18 hours, is 24 miles as the crow flies from Lemreway to Rubha Reidh, near Gairloch on the west coast of Scotland. The track is the Admiralty’s defined boundary of the North Minch, and is a longer open sea crossing than the English Channel.

It will be a first for any of the team who succeed, but a new official record for Colleen, who is swimming in just a swim suit and goggles, according to the rules of the British Long Distance Swimming Association (BLDSA). Norman and Colin are clad in wetsuits, and have suffered less than Colleen from jellyfish stings

By the half way point at 2pm this afternoon, Colleen was one hour ahead of Colin, who had slowed his stroke rate to stay with Norman, the least experienced of the swimmers. Tides began to push Colin and Norman northwards around that time, adding to the distance they’ll have to cover. They’ve since been able to alter course against the current.

At 5.30pm Colin was reportedly ‘going well and fresh as a daisy’ with 8.4 nautical miles to go until the finish. Support boat Orla was keeping both men supplied with drinks and energy foods, while the second support vessel, Harvest Moon, had gone ahead with Colleen, who was expected to finish between 7.30pm and 8.30pm tonight. Colin and Norman are currently about two hours behind.

Colin, Norman and Colleen leave Stornoway harbour early today (Sunday July 8th)