On 20 July, Laura Reineke, Jo Robb, Fiona Print, Susan Barry and Joan Fennelly, otherwise known as the Henley Mermaids, swam 61km across the Bristol Channel in support of Cure Parkinson’s and three other charities dedicated to neurological conditions.

The Henley Mermaids are a group of women connected by their love for swimming, and are all members of the Henley Open Water Swimming Club. Last summer the team swam the English Channel, raising funds for Henley Music school.

This year, the Mermaids set their sights on another ambitious challenge, attempting to make history and become the first all-female relay team to complete the 40km swim across the Bristol Channel from Ilfracombe in North Devon to Swansea in Wales. While the mermaids have taken on endurance events in the past, this time they also had the Bristol Channel’s busy shipping lanes to navigate, and its infamous strong and difficult tides to contend with which can add even more distance to the swim.

On the day, the Mermaids swam for a total of 14 hours, continuing long after the sun had set and covering an incredible 61km! Due to the difficult tide in the evening, however, they could not swim the last 6km as the current was pulling the swimmers back into the Channel. If they had continued, there was a risk of the Mermaids being separated from the boat accompanying them, and so the decision was made to stop the challenge.

Despite this turn of events, the Henley Mermaids plan to take on the swim for a second time next month, aiming to complete the full distance of the channel. We are all blown away by their determination to complete their challenge and hit the world record.

We have now caught our breaths and are regrouping, sharpening our game plan and we hope to take it on again in the next few weeks, before the daylight diminishes too much. Stay tuned and watch this space!!

Joan Fennelly, The Henley Mermaids

The Henley Mermaids joined forces with Sunrise for Brain Conditions, a charitable partnership that acts as a fundraising platform, supporting four neurological conditions: Huntington’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s. The Mermaids have selected four charities in the UK and Ireland that raise vital funds and awareness for these conditions, and Cure Parkinson’s is thrilled to be one of the beneficiaries of such a fantastic event.

Everyone at Cure Parkinson’s would like to congratulate the Henley Mermaids on this achievement, and say a huge thank you for supporting our work towards a cure. If you would like to support the team, or keep up to date with their challenge, you can visit their fundraising page.

The Mermaids will also hold a ‘Happy Hour’ Auction in October, date to be confirmed. Head to their website to browse a list of fantastic prizes and bid for your chance to win a week long holiday in Ireland or a rowing lesson with Olympic medalist Sarah Winckless MBE!

If you are feeling inspired by the Henley Mermaids and would like to fundraise for Cure Parkinson’s, you can learn more about how to do your own fundraising here.

If you’d like to support Cure Parkinson’s by taking part in a fundraising event, have a look and find your next challenge!

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