Henley Mermaids Channel Relay Team 2020:Laura ReinekeSusan BarryJoan FennellyJo RobbFiona Print
The English Channel is the 21 mile stretch of water that separates England and France. The Channel has played its part in history over the past thousand years, and has now become the most iconic swim to tackle in the world.
Swimmers come from all over the world to attempt this 'Everest of Swimming'.
The Henley Mermaids, all regular swimmers with the Henley Open Water Swimming Club, and with an average age of 50, will embark on the challenge in June 2020.
Laura Reineke, the team’s captain, said “I love long distance open water swimming and we find it increasingly difficult to raise the £60,000 a year needed to fund the Henley Music School. I thought swimming the Channel could be a great way of combining the two.” Mother-of-three Laura founded the Henley Music School in 2010 to provide music tuition for anyone regardless of age, ability, background and means. However, the most need is in schools where funding is lacking.
A violinist, viola and piano player, Laura knows well the importance of musical education for all children. “Due to an appalling lack of funding, schools are forced to drop subjects in order to make ends meet, resulting in children never having contact with wonderful, life-fulfilling education such as music. Henley Music School aims to fill the gap, in the hope of offering music education to everyone, at a heavily subsidised cost, and in many cases free. The result is well-rounded, happy children.”
Joan Fennelly, 53 and originally from Ireland, a sales and marketing manager for Oracle, has been swimming in the Thames for years. One of eight children, Joan grew up swimming in the river Oweness, in the Irish midlands. On swimming the Channel, she said: “I’m doing it because I can. It’s an iconic swim that’s on my bucket list.”
Mother-of-four Fiona Print, of St Mark’s Road, is a Registered Nurse at the Rapid Access Care Unit at Townlands Hospital has been swimming in the river for 3 years and loves it. She welcomes the challenge of the Channel swim
Susan Barry, a French teacher and mother of three, said “I want to get out of my comfort zone. My children are proud of me, but they think it’s bonkers!”
Jo Robb, 42, and a Green Councillor with South Oxfordshire District Council, joked “I’m doing this because Laura roped me in and you don’t say no to Laura.” “But seriously, more people have climbed Everest than have swum the English Channel. It is the pinnacle of human endurance achievement. It will be easier for us as we’re swimming as a relay but we will have to train and adapt to the cold water and prepare for jelly fish and choppy conditions.”
The Henley Mermaids hope to complete their relay between 1st - 10th June 2020, all depending on tides and weather.
are raising money for Henley Music School
, which provides fun, inclusive music education to anyone regardless of age, ability, background or means. With over 500 children and 100 adults currently taking part in their huge range of musical activities they need over £60,000 a year to run.