MEET THE TEAM

The Thames Marvels – Marika, Alaine, Rebecca, Vicky, Elizabeth (Liz) and Lee – an acronym for MARVEL – how marvellous is that!

 

We all became friends through swimming with the Henley Open Water Swimming Club (HOWSC), an organisation that gives fellow enthusiasts the opportunity to dip all year round in the Thames and other rivers and lakes in the area, venturing further afield to the sea when COVID regulations allow. We have continued to train through the depths of winter with temperatures plummeting to below 2 degrees in the water during a time when COVID restrictions and flooding have made safe swimming a real challenge. All pool lane training ceased as public pools closed – so between us, the team took to zoom yoga, pilates, running and kayaking to keep their fitness levels up during lockdown. Our friendship and the camaraderie of the group has kept everyone going through what would have otherwise been a difficult and lonely few months and the joy of being in the fresh cold water has been invigorating and refreshing, both physically and mentally.

 

The Marvels are looking forward to our Channel crossing this summer;  and very much hope that you will support our chosen charity, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, because mental health matters.

Marika

55, Maths Tutor.

Having spent 15 years in the mining industry as a geologist and 20 years as a teacher, I have been fortunate enough to look after my wellbeing by always bringing the outdoors into what I do on a daily basis. In 2017 I had spinal surgery and swimming was the natural way for me to recover. My husband has always kept an eye on me, ready with a towel, whenever and wherever I chose to fling myself into the water. Both our children are water babies and will swim with me given any opportunity. Our dogs, one a hearing dog that I voluntarily train, have ensured I walk daily. In the last 3 years I swam in events in the UK and South Africa (my birthplace), the Thames Marathon being my longest event.

This year at the age of 55, in what could have been a very lonely, socially distanced year, I feel fortunate to have had the focus, friendship and care of a group of MARVELLOUS women, that I trust and respect to team up with for a Channel swim in 2021.

I am dedicating my swim to my Mum who passed away 20 years ago and struggled her whole life with mental health and to my Dad who, at 88, still encourages me all the way. Our team hope to swim strong and straight and see you on the French side, Dad.

MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
Thames 14k Marathon 2019

CHALLENGES FOR 2021
Channel Relay Crossing -June/July
Ullswater Chillswim - 11k - July
Thames Marathon - 14k - August

Alaine

37, Senior Cardiac Radiographer.

I grew up on the Lancashire coast so from an early age I could effectively not drown but I was never a particularly strong swimmer. I started swimming in earnest about 9 years ago when my husband did a few triathlons. Once we tried open water swimming we were hooked and it’s something we do together all year round. The best part is meeting so many like-minded people, like my amazing Marvel team mates. It’s a privilege to raise funds for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and I'll be swimming the Channel in honour of my cousin’s late husband Ed and my late colleague Alex.

MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
Channel Relay 2016
Jubilee 10k 2020

Rebecca

56, Professional singer, vocal trainer, conductor, organist, piano accompanist, open water swimmer and keen amateur chef. I love reading, surfing, running, walking and good food and wine! I have four grown-up children, a much put-upon husband and two dogs.

I started swimming lessons aged 4 in our local swimming baths. We swam in the sea on holiday and in the lake at the end of my grandfather’s garden. I was never afraid of cold water and always happy to hurl myself in. When my youngest son started having lessons aged 5 months, I began to train twice a week in the local pool where he was taught. Fast forward several years and he became a wild swimming champion, doing his own channel swim relay challenge in 2019. Spending hours on the side of the Thames watching him train finally got me into the open water. I found a strength I didn’t know I had - I’m a complete convert, loving the cold water swimming experience, particularly throughout the winter months, also the camaraderie with my wonderful team mates. Swimming in local rivers, lakes and in the sea where possible, has kept me sane in lockdown and got me through many difficult times. It is both my joy and my salvation.

I’m swimming the English Channel Relay with the Thames Marvels in loving memory of family friend and daughter's boyfriend, Craig McCowan, who took his own life aged 20 in 2010, whilst suffering from depression. Please support the Charlie Waller Trust as they strive to promote mental health and well being, so that tragedies like these will occur less and less.

MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
Boscombe long swim 5k 2020
Dorney long swim 2.5k 2020
All Henley swim events 2020: Henley Mile, Club to Pub 1.6k, Virtual Thames Marathon 14k , Virtual Henley Classic 2.1k

CHALLENGES FOR 2021
Channel Relay Crossing -June/July
Ullswater Chillswim - 11k - July
Thames Marathon - 14k - August
Wye Wild Water swim 7k - September

Vicky

50, Physiotherapist working in the NHS and privately in neuro-rehab for children and adults. Pilates teacher and sports massage therapist.

I have been swimming since I was 3, focussing on synchronised swimming from the age of 7 until 18, representing GB for 4 years. My coach and team mates from that time all remember me being frightened of sharks in the pools when training alone in the diving pits those early dark mornings so they can't believe I love open water swimming so much now!

I first dipped my toe into lakes about 10 years ago, keeping my wetsuit firmly on as a barrier to the fish. 2018 saw me brave my first sea swim event in skins. I finally ditched the neoprene for river swims in 2019, doing my first winter swimming and I haven't looked back.

Swimming with other like-minded people keeps me going, both in the water and in life in general. It lifts my mood and has been vital this year with lockdowns. Working on wards with Covid patients this year, being able (eventually) to get into rivers and swim helped keep me healthy in mind and body. I have had many bereavements and family traumas in my life (including my youngest brother drowning when I was 11, becoming severely disabled; ironic considering we were a 'swimming' family). Swimming, water and swimming friends have been constant companions throughout. I have one daughter and a dog who love the open water as much as I do, and a husband who, despite being a good swimmer is still wary of the open water.

MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
Scilly 360 15km sea swim September 2020 (as a relay of 2)
Boscombe 5km sea swim 2020
Thames 14k Marathon 2019
BEST Fest 3km and 5km point to point sea swims 2019 (1st and only long sea swims without a wetsuit)

CHALLENGES FOR 2021
Channel Relay Crossing - June/July
Thames Classic - 2.1km
Ullswater Chillswim - 11k - July
Thames Marathon - 14k
Wild Wye - 7km
Gaelforce Great fjord swim - 3.9km

Liz

54, Maths Tutor (& Examiner) and a Pisces.

I’ve always swum (as I can’t run), but 99.9% in swimming pools (or falling off windsurfers in neoprene on sunny holidays). In 2014 I was treated for breast cancer and swimming (still in pools) was the main thing that kept me sane and healthy through recovery. A couple of years later I met Lee through a mutual friend and she inspired me into swimming The (14km) Thames Marathon in 2018 (still in a wetsuit).

It was such a confidence booster to achieve that after having had my confidence and energy annihilated by chemotherapy that when Lee suggested I join her lovely HOWSC friends on a Channel Relay it was impossible to resist.

I dedicate my swim to my late best friend through my senior school years, Chris. A lovely but troubled soul who passed away aged 21, verdict 'death my misadventure'.

MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
LCW Wales Swim 4k 2018, 2019
Thames 14k Marathon 2018
Lake Swim 10k 2020

CHALLENGES FOR 2021
Channel Relay Crossing -June/July
Ullswater Chillswim - 11k - July
Thames Marathon - 14k - August
Aberdovey - 13k - September
Wild Wye Swim – 10k – September’

LEE

53, Marketing Consultant and Environmental enthusiast.

I am originally South African and have lived in the UK for the past 20 years. I was thrown into the water, literally when I was about 2 years old - in South Africa you learn to swim about the same time you learn to walk. So as a result to this day I am still a complete water baby, as my hubbie says it is my 'happy place'. I have wanted to swim the English Channel as long as I can remember, and now I have this incredible opportunity with a fantastic group of wonderful women. My ultimate goal is a solo channel swim, but one step at a time. When I am not swimming, I am a marketing consultant, and a great lover of all things outdoors. I am really both excited and terrified about this challenge that we are taking on, not only a physical, but mental challenge for me personally. It’s great to be raising money for such a worthwhile charity who helps people dealing with far greater challenges on a daily basis.

MOST SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS
LCW Wales Swim 4k 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Thames 14k Marathon 2019
10K Lake Swim 2020

CHALLENGES FOR 2021
Channel Relay Crossing -June/July
Ullswater Chillswim - 11k - July
Thames Marathon - 14k - August
Abberdovey - 13k - September

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”

Wilma Rudolph