Henley Mermaids Compete in Winter World Championships in Preparation for Channel Challenge

The beautiful backdrop of Bled’s lake and mountain at the Winter Swimming World Championships was the next challenge for the Henley Mermaids and part of their training towards swimming the Channel this summer and raising money for Henley Music School.

The 21 mile challenge will be completed in a relay between the group of Laura Reineke, Fiona Print, Joan Fennelly, Jo Robb and Susan Barry, with each swimmer swimming an hour at a time.

Henley Mermaids and 15 of their friends at Henley Open Water Swimming Club (HOWSC) represented Great Britain and took part in a number of events in water that ranged from 3-5 degrees.  Gillian McAllister won gold in the 1000m and silver in the 200m freestyle, Andrew Allum picked up 3 medals in freestyle events, gold in the 1000m, silver in the 450m and bronze in the 200m. Nic Court won a silver in the 25m breaststroke.

The team enjoyed a wonderful weekend away which included an opening ceremony, Gala dinner and reception at the famous Bled Castle.

Four of the HOWSC members who took part in the championships are hoping to complete an ice-mile, their only obstacle is that no water in Britain is currently cold enough!  This is a mile swam in water below 5 degrees, unassisted by flow in just a hat, goggles and swimming costume!  Some of the mermaids plan to do an ice mile next winter.

Gillian McAllister’s daughter, Heather a pianist and soprano soloist Rebecca Bell another HOWSC swimmer joined together for a concert to raise money for Henley Mermaids at All Saints, Rotherfield Peppard Church.   Heather played pieces from Rachmaninov, Shubert and Brahms plus three movements from the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven. Rebecca sang a medley of pieces by English songs by Benjamin Britten, Michael Head and Roger Quilter.

Founder of Henley Music School and Henley Mermaids captain, Laura Reineke said, “The concert was amazing and it was lovely to see the little church packed with people.  We raised nearly £600.  It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning and everyone enjoyed cake and coffee afterwards.”

Henley Mermaids continue to train hard for their Channel Relay in June which includes swimming lengths in a pool, swim coaching, plus spin classes, pilates, circuits to build up their fitness.  Talking about the Channel challenge Laura commented, “It is taking up all spare time, but with only about 14 weeks left we are all feeling the pressure of such a huge challenge.  We are given a 10 day slot, between 1-10 of June – and we could get a call anytime within that 10 days to get to Dover to begin our swim.  This could be day, night, morning, evening – all dependent on the tide and weather!”

If you’d like to donate to the Henley Mermaid Channel Relay in aid of Henley Music School, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/laura039s-campaign-for-henley-music-school