As the St Kilda Swim Team grinned proudly on the shore at Hushinish, swimmer Christina Mackenzie admitted she was still pinching herself after landing a ticket on the trip of a lifetime - at less than 15-hours notice.
The Stornoway woman, who has earmarked the week as one of recovery between gruelling Ironman competitions, revealed to the Gazette she was surprised to get a late call to join the gang on the Cuma to sail for Village Bay, St Kilda.
She said: “I had a call from Eddie (Smith) at 10.30pm on Saturday night asking if I wanted to be part of the team. I thought it would be in the future some time but he said ‘great, we’re meeting at 1.30pm tomorrow.’
“I had just over 14-hours to prepare and my wetsuit was in Ireland so I had to borrow the one I’m wearing.
“I didn’t even know which direction we were swimming or anything or what I had even agreed to.”
Coming off the back of a half Ironman event, in which she earned a podium, and preparing for a full Ironman event this coming weekend, training in the vast expanses of the North Atlantic was not what Christina expected this week but she insists it was a spontaneous offer which she will never forget.
“I actually told you (Gazette back page 13/08/15) that I needed to work on my swimming for my events but I didn’t expect this,” she laughed.
“Swimming with whales and dolphins and in the pitch black can only help. It was amazing, such a fabulous experience. It was hard as well though but the weather was beautiful and it was so great to be a part of this team.
“The tides just coming in were tough and it was hard as we had come so far and then had to fight so much. But knowing we were on the final straight motivated us to keep our heads down, arms going and legs kicking.”
Pictured is the delighted team at journey’s end.