North Berwick incident: Photograph captures dramatic moment passing yacht pulls two swimmers 'moments from drowning' from North Berwick harbour
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A rescue operation was launched after two members of North Berwick Coastguard Rescue Team (NBCRT) raised the alarm, having spotted the pair in were in difficulty after swimming approximately 50 metres from the town’s Old Pier to the Fairway Buoy.
A passing yacht also alerted the coastguard to the incident and a member of its crew threw the pair an inflated lifejacket to keep their heads above water as they suffered the effects of the extreme cold.
The yacht then manoeuvred alongside the pair and threw out a line before hauling them onto its deck and to safety.
The two casualties were then administered first aid by shore lifeboat crew prior to being handed over to the ambulance crew.
They were taken to hospital due to the after effects of near-drowning and hypothermia.
A statement from North Berwick Coastguard Rescue read: “Much longer without assistance and they would have drowned.
“The water around our coasts is still dangerously cold and you should always think twice before entering the water without a wetsuit, or personal flotation device. Never jump straight into deep water. Alcohol and the sea, do not mix.
The yacht skipper, Matt Gibbons, said: “I noticed two swimmers by the fairway buoy, and as a former RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeguard I noticed that something was wrong.
“My crew shouted across to ask if they were okay. We didn’t receive an answer, however one of the casualties locked eyes with me, before his head sunk beneath the surface.
“I immediately called 999 for the coastguard whilst circling back around them and inflating a spare lifejacket to throw to them. My crew also threw a line but the casualties were so involved in trying to keep themselves afloat that they initially couldn’t reach for either.
“It was an eye-opening experience considering the safety of land was only 50 or so meters away. I’m thankful we passed when we did. A few minutes later and we might have been too late.”