Laois native prepares to swim with Mermaids

By | March 16, 2021

Laois native Joan Fennelly, is preparing to raise money for four Irish charities by swimming the Bristol Channel with her local swimming club the Henley Mermaids.

The 50 year old software sales director, Joan joined the Henley Open Water Swimming Club, before becoming one of the Henley Mermaids, a group of five woman who swim in the Thames river, no matter the weather.

Joan has already competed in a relay swim across the English Channel from England to France, and completed a personal challenge to swim 100km in 100 days for charity, in 2018.

She is currently planning to swim the Bristol Channel on July 22, which will be the anniversary of the Mermaid’s English Channel relay.

The Bristol Channel swim is in aid of Sunrise for Brain Conditions, a non-profit partnership which organises running events and fundraising for four Irish charities covering Huntington’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Motor Neurone Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

“We are delighted that spring is approaching, the days are getting longer and the rivers and lakes are starting to warm up,” she told The Leinster Express.


The team’s training has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as Joan describes “with no access to pools or lidos during lockdown, we have not been able to do any distance training over the winter months, so we will have a lot of ground to make up in building fitness for our Bristol Channel relay in the coming months.”

“In the meanwhile, we are all keeping as active as we can with hiking, biking, spinning, pilates and yoga.

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“Hopefully, the Henley Mermaids 2021 campaign will help raise both awareness and funding to support sufferers and families living with these conditions, both in Ireland and the UK.”

The Henley Mermaids are actively seeking donations for their chosen charities and both Irish and UK patrons can support their causes, on their website.