Meet The Girls


alisonAlison Baker

Age: 60 | Home: Guildford

I am 60, a part time librarian, mother of two grown up sons and about to become a granny. I really do like my food, and am not a sporty type, being built for comfort rather than speed.  Three years ago I decided to move on from swimming Old Lady Breaststroke once a week, and learn to swim properly.  It is time to take my brand new front crawl out into the open and become the eccentric Wild Swimming Gran, not the Too Timid To Try Gran.  A friend sent me the link to This Girl Can at the Henley Mile, so here goes, challenge accepted!


barboraBarbora Walderova

Age: 37 | Home: Wokingham

Spending most working days in the office, I’ve been trying to keep fit with varying levels of success. There have been excuses – too much work, not enough time, feeling tired or unwell, until I realised I needed a purpose to keep me on the right track. I often used to talk myself out of doing something because I lacked self-confidence. By signing up for the Henley Mile I’m getting out of my comfort zone (I’m very anxious being in open water) and want to prove to myself that I can do it.


katieKatie Potter

Age: 40 | Home: Newbury

I’m a nurse, part-time student and new mummy – all of which conspire to give me multiple excuses for not exercising! With broken sleep and in a new mummy haze the majority of my recent contact with water has been sitting by the canal drinking coffee. Entering the Henley Mile seems the perfect opportunity to help me begin to be a fit and healthy mummy. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with exercise, so I’m hoping this experience will teach me to enjoy the journey and realise that being a novice doesn’t stop you achieving your goals.


leanneLeanne Hughes

Age: 28 | Home: Keyworth, Nottinghamshire

Geologist, Brown Owl and chicken keeper. Team sport has never really been my thing but swimming always felt fun rather than a chore. After a bout of insomnia last year when exercise became a distant memory, swimming was the first thing to get me back on track. At first it was a real effort but now it’s my favourite hour of the week. In my work I get to visit many parts of Britain and often think how inviting the streams, pools and lakes can look which got me thinking about outdoor swimming. Then suddenly I’d signed up for this. The person who complains if the room temperature drops below a balmy 22 degrees signed up for a cold water swim. Excited and scared in equal measure I need to get training


julietteJuliette Sheldon

Age: 42 | Home: Kedleston, Debyshire

I am the mother of a 7 year old busy boy and 9 year old gorgeous girl, full
time School Registrar, wife of 11 years and house-building
-slightly-worn-out 42 year old. I thought it high time I challenged myself
to fall back in love with swimming and give myself a fitness goal. Henley
Mile – nervous and excited just about sums it up!!!






Cat Whitehouse

Age: 30 | Home: London

Back-of-the-pack runner and coffee-addicted neuroscience nerd, always looking for ways to grow and challenge myself. Haven’t been swimming in years, so for me the Henley Mile is about breaking out of my usual fitness routine, getting a little uncomfortable and proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. But first – to buy a swimming costume!


justineJustine Flower

Age: 44 | Home: Naseby

I love wild swimming and have always been attracted to water. It reminds me of my childhood and it still makes me feel free. I have 3 children and an amazing husband all of which love water but not when it is cold! I live just about as far from the sea as you can get in Britain, and chlorine irritates my skin so I will be looking for rivers that I can train in.



Helen Rayner

Age: 32 | Home: Oxford

By day I’m a consultant, and the rest of the time I can generally be found swimming, knitting or sewing. I learnt to swim as a child but in November 2014, I took up swimming to regain muscle tone after a neurological illness left me with muscle weakness in my legs. My legs are better now, but I decided to carry on swimming because I enjoyed it so much. My long-term goal is to complete a 10km open water swim.



Claire Bennett

Age: 43 | Home: Swindon

A few years ago I was given a copy of the book ‘Wild Swim’ by Kate Rew and was completely captivated by it. The idea of swimming in open water just really appealed to me but I lacked the confidence to give it a go. The team at Henley Swim and the ‘This Girl Can’ initiative has spurred me into action. I look forward to completing my first open water swim and hope that it will be the first of many.


FrancesFrances Butler

Age: 56 | Home: London

I’m good at facing challenges  – the ones I can’t avoid like single motherhood, tight work deadlines, boarding rush-hour trains –  but when it comes to challenging myself,  my inner saboteur speaks up – the little voice persuades me not to try because it’s too hard and I’ll fail anyway.   The thing is, those challenges are always the ones that would lead to me having serious fun.  I aim to banish my inner saboteur forever, when, with a huge grin on my face I’ll look back at the Henley course and say ‘I did it, for myself and I had FUN’.


nicolaNicola Wilson

Age: 36 | Home: Reading

There are two little reasons I am taking part in this challenge; my children Luke and Pippa. Pippa was born 11 weeks premature back in June 2013. Luke kept me battling through the sadness with his smiles and “huggles” and Pippa showed me every day in the NICU that battles you thought were too hard can be conquered if you just keep fighting. I want to show them that Mummy doesn’t give up either. So here I am, the 36 year old who can’t put their face in the water, signing up to swim half a mile in the River Thames this summer. What can possibly go wrong?!


emilyEmily Chomicz

Age: 26 | Home: Finchampstead

I work for young people with Special Educational Needs and am also a competitive horse rider. I like to keep fit and try everything once. If faced with a new challenge or adventure, I have to have a go. I would like to attempt the challenge of swimming in the Thames and to inspire others to try new things even if they seem difficult or a bit scary.


kellyKelly Meuleman

Age: 42 | Home: Oxford

I am a mum of two teenagers, full time teacher and part time student. I often tell my children and my students to ‘have a go’ at all the things that are offered to them. This is my way of taking on a challenge myself and showing them rather than telling them. I am not ‘a swimmer’ but I enjoy swimming – by this I really mean a gentle swim (very slow breast stroke!) or sitting in the water with the kids while on holiday, preferably somewhere warm. Swimming one mile of the Thames will be a proper challenge but I am determined to do it.