The Henley Mermaids
4 Person Relay; Laura Reineke, Joan Fennelly, Fiona Print, Susan Barry
Porthcawl to Glenthorne 17-9-2021
Swim time: 12hrs 18minutes 9 seconds
Start: Sandy Bay Porthcawl (Coney Beach)
Finish: Approx 500m west of Glenthorne Bay, Devon.
Observer: Tom Chapman
Pilot: Meuryn Hughes
Ratified by the BCSA
Inspiration - I have family in Clevedon and I remember standing there looking at Wales and thinking I want to swim there - the rest is history!
Planning- This was our second attempt so we knew how to prepare with river and sea swims to acclimatise. The swim was great - I think that we all swam well and all agreed that the 3 rd swim which was very choppy was out most difficult swimming experience but it also allowed us to to swim in such wild conditions with the security of the safety boat We were all a bit nervous of not making it again and feel so proud and happy that we made it Big thanks to Meuryn and Tom for their support - they helped to make it a brilliant and successful trip
The swim was due to start at 4.30AM, from Sandy Bay Porthcawl. Due to the tidal nature of Porthcawl, the Pilot had arranged to meet us off the beach with us wading out to the boat waiting in the shallows...which gave us 4 more hours of sleep! Once the team were all in the boat, Laura started from above the water line on Sandy bay, swimming out to the boat and we were away.
It was pitch black at this hour but the sea was flat and we got off to a great start. Joan entered the water an hour later for the first changeover, swimming strongly and with a purpose! Still very dark when she started her hour but dawn began to break as her hour progressed. Fiona had the third hour, sea state still really good for swimming with a light North Westerly breeze. The sun broke over the horizon during her hour, revealing a lovely day! Just before the changeover Fiona let out as scream as she swam straight over a huge barrel jelly! No harm done, just a fright at this time of the morning! Susan jumped in at the three hour mark and swam really consistently for the whole of her hour, team making great progress towards England!
The second rotation for the whole team came and went with very little to report, the wind had been gradually building from the North/North West and water temp remained consistent and warm. Very little shipping traffic all day.
As the tide turned, the strengthening westerly wind was blowing against the movement of the tide and the water started to chop up. Laura took the brunt of this during her third swim at the 8 hour point. The tide was running it’s hardest and the wind blowing its strongest; the water was choppy and confused with waves coming from all directions. The pilot sheltered her as best as he could with the boat but Laura’s rhythm kept being broken with a wave in the face! To her credit she sucked it up and saw her hour out. Joan jumped in at 13.29 for her third swim, the water was starting to calm down but she was psyched up ready and swam off with gusto!
Fiona and Susan both swam really well in their third hours, steadily and consistently bringing us closer to England with every stroke. As we got closer to shore, the wind and waves began to calm but the tide was still shooting us out to the West, Fiona passed Glenthorne in her hour, crossing the invisible border into Devon! Susan had slack water but towards the end of her hour, we started moving back toward the East, Glenthorne house…and the Somerset border!
Laura jumped in for her fourth swim at 16.29, she had been primed to swim as hard as she can and land it anywhere before the house to ensure it was a Devon finish! After 18 minutes, she finally touched the large slippy boulders of the North Devon coast, clearing the water and completing the relay approximately 500metres inside Devon; first relay team to swim from Porthcawl to Devon! 12 hours, 18 minutes and 9 seconds.