12th August 2020 — Mrs Laura Reineke, Shiplake College's new Music Administrator has completed her mission with The Henley Mermaids to swim the English Channel.
The 21 mile relay lasted 17 hours, 43 minutes and raised an amazing £27,000 for Henley Music School, a charity which brings music education to children who may not normally have the opportunity to get involved in music.
As well as her Music Administrator and Visiting Violin Teacher roles at the College, Mrs Renieke is the Founding Director of Henley Music School.
The Mermaids actually did the swim in 23 miles and had to follow strict rules for a successful swim. Swimmers were only allowed to wear a costume, hat and goggles and they had to stick to their relay order, with rules for how to get in and out of the water. If one person couldn't carry on, the whole swim would have been aborted.
Mrs Reineke said: “I was the first swimmer in the water at 11.50pm on Tuesday 21 July. I was terrified! I had to swim from the boat back to shore and then begin the swim from there - it was pitch black.
“I did the relay with four other ladies and we were all nervous. The second swim I did was really lovely as the sun was coming up. The third was great as I got into a good rhythm, but the fourth was particularly scary as it was at a point three hours before France where two tides clashed and it was really choppy.
“Along the way we encountered super tankers, a migrant ship being picked up by the French Authorities and hundreds of jellyfish. I was lucky as I was the only one of us not to get stung!
“Overall it was the most unbelievable, harrowing, amazing, traumatic event I've ever done and I want to say thank you to everyone who supported us and our charity.”
Mrs Reineke is now back in training for her next challenges which include an ice mile (a mile in water below five degrees with no flow), the Winter Swimming World Championships in Latvia, The Windermere One Way, and a solo channel swim in 2023.