By Kirsty Topping
A SCOTSMAN has become the first person to swim across the widest part of the Forth.
Karteek Clarke, 44, from Edinburgh completed the nine and a half mile journey from North Berwick to Earlsferry in Fife in just under five and a half hours.
Wearing nothing but trunks, goggles and a swimming cap he dodged oil tankers and jelly fish and battled against strong winds, high waves and sea sickness.
Karteek, who has swum the English channel 10 times in the past 14 years, said: “I can’t find anyone who knows of anyone who has done it. And if anyone has done it, I am sure that it would have been in a wetsuit.
“I have been doing the English Channel swim for many years now and they have strict rules that you’re not allowed to use a wetsuit so I wanted to do this following the standard swimming rules.“I hope this will inspire someone else to do it and I would be the happiest man in the world if someone did it in a faster time than me.”
Karteek’s closest contender William “Ned” Barnie, who swam the six miles from Burntisland to Granton in 1924, though due to ferocious currents he actually covered ten miles.
Karteek said he was really excited to be the first man to complete the feat.
He said: “I always thought it looked so beautiful and thought ‘one day I have got to do it.”
“Nowadays so many people have done things before so you’re just following in other people’s footsteps.
“When I was standing there in the morning looking across, Ithought it didn’t really look that far away but it was quite a bit harder than I thought it would be.
“Just after halfway, the wind picked up and the last two hours were quite a bit harder and I got a sore shoulder and started to feel slightly nauseous with the sea sickness.
“I saw a few jellyfish and there were also lots of ships coming up and down.
“I could see two or three of them quite clearly.
“I was totally safe but it makes it a bit more dramatic when you’re in the water with them.
“I really enjoyed the experience and it was great for me going from something I have wanted to do for years to actually managing to do it.”
He is now planning his next challenge.
Karteek said: “I’m looking to find other swims to do now- maybe the equivalent in the Clyde and I would love to swim Loch Lomond and Loch Ness.”