Henley Mermaids swam the English Channel in aid of Henley Music School, a charity which provides all forms of music education to anyone regardless of age, ability, background or means.  Mermaid Laura founded HMS which needs £60,000 annually to run.

The Mermaids raised a whapping £35,000 swimming to France.

With huge thanks to:

  • Simon's Charity

  • Orchard House 

  • Hallmark Care Home

  • Serth & Gates

  • Huntercombe Golf Club

  • Henley Business Partnership

  • Mosawi Foundation

  • Leanoard Chadwick Trust

Did you know?

As of the end of 2020, 2,157 individuals had completed the channel swim, compared to 5,788 who had summited Mount Everest.

The English Channel is the stretch of water that separates England and France, 21 miles at it's closest stretch of the busiest shipping lane in the world. It is an iconic swim, more people have climbed Everest than have swum this channel.  

The first man to swim to France was Captain Matthew Webb on 12th August 1875, it took him 21hours & 45 mins.  

To imagine the swim, think about walking slowly across a busy motorway.  Swim slots for a 10-day period are booked two years in advance and often there is no swim because of adverse weather/water conditions.  Finally, the tide goes along the Channel, so the swimmer is essentially crossing a river.  It is a river that starts, goes fast, goes slower, then stops every six hours and changes direction.

Fastest Solo crossing: Trent Grimsey (2012) - 6:55:00

Slowest Solo crossing: Jackie Cobell - 28:44:00 and landed 10 miles from Cap Gris-Nez!

The tides will affect every aspiring English Channel swimmer to varying degrees.  
For roughly six hours the tide will take the swimmer 'up' the Channel, and then as the tide changes direction, the following six hours will take the swimmer 'down' the Channel. This up and down movement of the water is relentless and unavoidable.

When traversing the English Channel, the boat pilot pays respect to the aforementioned tides when heading for France, which means the tidal affect will be perpendicular to the direction of the swimmer. It is incredibly rare for a swimmer to ever be swimming with or against the tide.

There are two official bodies taking swimmers across the channel - the Channel swimming & piloting Federation & the Channel Swimming Association.

When booking a swim, you choose a pilot & boat who will navigate you over to France.  Henley Mermaids used Eddy Spelling on Anastasia.  Eddy has a crew and an observer, who then ratifies your swim.

No swimmer in a standard attempt to swim the Channel shall be permitted to use or wear any device or swimsuit that may aid his / her speed, buoyancy, heat retention or endurance (such as wetsuit, webbed gloves, paddles, fins, etc). The swimmer is permitted to grease the body before a swim, use goggles and one hat. Nose clips and earplugs are also permitted. Any kind of tape on the body is not permitted unless approved by the observer.

The swimmer may wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces which shall not extend past the shoulder or below the knee. All swimsuits shall be made from textile materials. Caps may not be made from neoprene or any other material which offers similar heat retention properties (as determined by the CS&PF Committee). Silicone or latex hats are permitted.

The official observer will have to confirm that the swimwear rules have been observed. The swimmer must be sure that their costume and cap are of an approved type before the swim starts as the swim will not be recognised if they are later found not to conform. If you have any doubt, please seek advice and/or approval from the CS&PF Committee prior to the swim giving sufficient notice for any research or investigations to be completed

Rules for standard relay team:

(a) Each standard team shall consist of 6 swimmers each swimming for 1 hour. The order of the swim shall be determined by the order of swimmers entering the water to commence their first swim leg. No team member may start their second swim leg before the first swimmer has completed their second swim leg. Once the first swimmer commences their second swim leg, the same order must be maintained throughout the swim.


Mermaids are a relay team of 5.

Swimmers in relay teams shall be over 12 years old 3 days before the relay swim starts, and for registration purposes, the beginning of the swim period their team is booked to swim in. They shall be under 16 years of age for at least 24 hours after the swim finishes for it to be classified as a Junior Relay team swim.

Junior swimmers (over 12 and under 16 years of age) will only be allowed to swim in 6-person (standard), 7-person or 8-person relay team swims.

All swimmers taking part in a relay team swim must supply written proof/ratification of a 1.5 hours swim then leave the water for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 1.5 hours – then return to the water and swim for 1 more hour swim in water 61°F/16°C or less or proof of completion in a recognised event for a period considered by the CS&PF to be an acceptable alternative within the previous 18 months.

In no circumstances shall more than 1 team be allowed to make their attempt escorted by the same pilot boat.

(b) Each swimmer shall swim for one or two hours - 60 minutes or 120 minutes each time he/she enters the water as designated by the choice of the relay swim leg time period options

(c) The change-over/takeover from one swimmer to the next in a relay should take place every 60 minutes or 120 minutes if for a two or three person relay option, with the new swimmer entering the water on a signal given by the observer at the end of the completion of the required 60 minute or 120 minute swim period. During the change-over the new swimmer must enter the water from behind and swim past the preceding swimmer. The swimmer that has completed their designated swim period of 60 minutes or 120 minutes must exit the water as quickly as possible and within a maximum of five minutes.

(d) Team members shall rotate in the same order throughout the swim. Pace-making or the use of a support swimmer is NOT allowed.

(e) The pilot/ships master may ask for the accompaniment of a safety swimmer at the very end of a relay swim if the conditions dictate.

(f) A CS&PF recognised Pilot and Official Observer of the Federation must be present on any CS&PF  Relay Team swim for it to be recognised.